Funeral for Cumbria shooting victim Garry Purdham

Hundreds of mourners paid their respects to Garry Purdham

Hundreds of mourners have paid their respects at the first funeral for a victim of the Cumbria shootings.

Garry Purdham, 31, a father of two, was killed in Derrick Bird's shooting rampage as he worked on his father's farm near Gosforth on 2 June.

Mr Purdham was the ninth person to be shot dead by Bird, 52, who killed 12 and wounded 11 before killing himself.

Mr Purdham's wife Ros, and sons Flynn, two, and Cameron, eight, were at the service at St Mary's Church, Gosforth.

Friends from the local rugby league scene sported the club jerseys of Whitehaven, Workington and Egremont - the three teams Mr Purdham played for, both as a professional and amateur.

'Best friend'

Others wore shirts with the club crests of local amateur teams he had played against.

Garry Purdham

The funeral for Mr Purdham, described on the order of service as "a devoted husband, father, son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend", was led by the Rev Jonathan Falkner and the Rev Alison Hart.

During the funeral, Mr Purdham's wife said: "We were such a close family unit, time together was precious and treasured and happy and most important, unforgettable - bouncing on trampolines, digging in dirt and of course, playing football and rugby in the garden, when kisses and cuddles were given as prizes but never asked for.

"The short time we had as a family was the best time I and the boys have ever had.

"Garry was, and still is, my best friend, my soul mate and my husband and the most stunning dad anybody could ever have."

Mr Purdham's brother Rob, a professional rugby player, was among the six pall-bearers.

'Good support'

The coffin was carried past a guard of honour of players and officials from Egremont Rangers RLFC.

Before the service started Mr Falkner, Rector of St Mary's Church, said: "My primary concern was the immediate family and helping them through this day.

Ros Purdham Garry Purdham's wife, Ros, said her husband was a "stunning dad".

"They have coped remarkably well up to now and obviously this is an important stage in the process for them.

"They have had a lot of good support from friends and neighbours and the rugby league community but today we have to help them get through this."

The service was broadcast to about 600 people who stood outside in the church grounds.

A private cremation followed at nearby Distington Crematorium.

Further funerals are due to be held over coming days, starting with a service for solicitor Kevin Commons in Workington on Friday.

On Wednesday, thousands of people attended a series of memorial services for the victims, at which their names were read out and prayers were said followed by a minute's silence.

On Friday, Prince Charles will visit Whitehaven, the town at the centre of the killings, after being invited by the lord lieutenant of Cumbria.

The prince has said he was "utterly horrified" by the events.

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