Ormesby's joyful salute to George
Sadness mingled with celebration as a young boy was given the bright, vibrant send-off that matched the joy that filled his short but happy life. With so many people dressed in colourful clothes - including the odd Hawaiian shirt - it was difficult at first to determine quite what the occasion was at Ormesby St Margaret Parish Church on Wednesday.
Sadness mingled with celebration as a young boy was given the bright, vibrant send-off that matched the joy that filled his short but happy life.
With so many people dressed in colourful clothes - including the odd Hawaiian shirt - it was difficult at first to determine quite what the occasion was at Ormesby St Margaret Parish Church on Wednesday.
But it was what the parents of George Howard, almost eight, wanted - a joyful salute to their smiling son.
Mourners having quickly filled flower-trimmed pews were played Hakuna Matata (No Worries) from Disney's Lion King, as George was brought in.
Proud parents Paul and Michelle of West Avenue followed - Paul, wearing a bright red shirt and “Daddy” socks, stepping forward to place a happy snap of George on the coffin.
The service lead by the Rev Neil Spencer featured hymns and readings aimed at chiming with George's achievements and personality.
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Rev Spencer said the congregation should not be sombre or wear gloomy expressions, describing George as a child with a disability not a disabled child.
He said: “George was born on July 4 2002 weighing 6lb 12oz. At five months old he was diagnosed with Leigh's disease and not expected to live beyond one or maybe two years.
“Paul and Michelle wanted to give him as normal a life as possible within the limits of his disabilities.”
Using his parents' words Rev Spencer described George as “a laid back little dude,” who enjoyed going places but was happiest at home.
The fact that like most little boys he liked farty noises and bogeys sent a ripple of laughter along the pews and he was variously described as “charismatic” and “a bit of a flirt.”
George was well known at the allotments and all around his home village of Ormesby where last year a fun day at the Jolly Farmers and beard shave raised around �3000 for new equipment, some of which will now go to the James Paget Hospital's children's ward.
His parents, Rev Spencer, said had been taken out of their own comfort zones by George, his dad Paul running a half marathon and setting up the George's Gifts charity. The generosity of other people who had performed their own money-raising feats had astounded and gladdened his parents, Rev Spencer said, adding: “He was a brave boy who put up with a lot and always smiled. He waited until Ruby came along before he went on his way. He would have been a great big brother - but would probably have taught her bad habits!
“He was such a beautiful child. There was a beauty that shone of him that was quite unlike anything I have ever encountered.
“This is not the end of George's journey but the beginning of it.”
George's sunflower-topped coffin was taken out of the church to Circle of Life, also from the Lion King, followed by Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride from Lilo and Stitch.
The service was followed by a private cremation after which everyone was invited to join the family at the Jolly Farmers in Ormesby.