HUNDREDS of people turned out in Alvechurch on Monday (December 7) to bid farewell to brave Finlay Church.
As well as congregating outside the village’s St Laurence Church, there were rows of people along Bear Hill.
The coffin was taken to its final resting place in a horse-drawn carriage, complete with police escort, passing by Alvechurch Middle and Crown Meadow First School so those not at the funeral could pay their respects.
Officers from West Mercia Police formed a guard of honour at the doors to the packed church, paying tribute to Fin’s ambition to become a police officer.
The coffin was carried into the church by members of the 11-year-old’s karate club to the song I Lived by One Republic. Fittingly, the song contains the words ‘I did it all’ – very apt for Fin who lived his life to the full, as well as raising more than £100,000 for Brain Tumour Research and Birmingham Children’s Hospital.
After the welcoming and first hymn Amazing Grace, there were tributes from family and friends.
Among them were a piece written by his brother Kenzie which praised Fin for always been willing to do things for him, always cheeing him on at football and for always helping others. It concluded with the words: ‘Live life, dream dreams and always remember to remember’.
A tribute entitled ‘Words About Our Angel’ was read by his mum and dad Penny and Wayne.
In it, they spoke about how when he was born, he always slept and smiled and the NCT (National Childbirth Trust) referred to him as an ‘angel baby’ and about how he was a model pupil at school, always focused, polite and helpful.
His smile was described as ‘being able to light up a whole room’, words epitomised by the picture at the front of the church of Finlay smiling and looking happy, as he had been through the majority of his battle.
Those gathered heard from Wayne about the ‘competitive’ games of football and cricket in the garden and about how Fin loved karate, working hard to become a black belt.
At rugby, which he really excelled at, Fin was described as a ‘little terrier’ who won ‘coach’s player of the year’ in his first season of full contact rugby, amazing everyone with his strength and tenacity, despite him often being the smallest person on the field.
He, Penny said, had accomplished more than most adults were able to do in their lifetimes. Among the highlights were meeting the Chelsea players, seeing police riot training and getting to use a taser and riding Europe’s longest zip wire.
Penny explained how the name Finlay meant ‘fair warrior or hero’ and talked about how he would always go along with their ideas to improve his health, with a smile and a positive approach, even though he was not often keen on what it entailed.
There was laughter through the tears from everyone as Penny explained how he was especially not a fan of the Ketogenic diet as it meant he could not go and have a meal at the Dilshad, his favourite restaurant.
“He has been able to draw on an inner strength that most adults would not have been able to access and showed us the true meaning of courage, bravery and strength.
“He has loved and been loved beyond his years.”
The tribute ended with Penny telling Fin to ‘sleep tight, adding he would always be loved forever and ever’.
At the end of it, every single person was on their feet, applauding Fin and everything he had achieved in his 11 years.
Further tributes included a recorded message from his cousin Scott Cuppelditch and a reading by Emily Ruston.
A letter from Fin was read out by Claire Whitehead where he spoke about his life, describing Penny as ‘the best mum in the world’.
He spoke affectionately about ‘his crazy mum’ and ‘more sensible dad’ and about his little brother Kenzie, sister Tegan and the dog, labelling him a ‘big daft ball of wool’.
He thanked the whole community for its support in helping with the fund-raising had said he wanted to become the best armed policeman that Birmingham had ever had.
To the moving music of Ellie Golding’s ‘How Long Will I Love You’, candles were lit in memory of Fin and, after prayers and a blessing, the coffin left the church to Up by Olly Murs and Demi Lovato – Fin’s favourite song.
There was then a private family burial and a celebration of his life at the Red Lion in Alvechurch afterwards.
A lasting memorial for Fin, yet to be confirmed, will also be created in Alvechurch for youngsters in the village to enjoy and remember him.
The family has asked for family flowers only and donations for the memorial can be made on the day or via Thomas Brothers Funeral Directors by calling 0121 445 3422.
You can read more about Finlay’s journey at www.facebook.com/Finlaysjourney or donate at www.justgiving.com/teams/Finlaysjourney