Stoke & Staffordshire

PC David Rathband's funeral held in Stafford

Hundreds of people have paid their final respects to PC David Rathband at his funeral in Stafford.

PC Rathband, who was shot and blinded by Raoul Moat, was found dead at his home in Northumberland on 29 February.

The funeral, in the town where he grew up, began with the Monty Python song Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

Identical twin brother Darren told those at Stafford Crematorium: "We were the image of each other, but I can never come close to the man he was."

Recalling the last time he saw his brother alive, when he visited his home in Australia, he said: "It broke my heart seeing him arrive in Adelaide. He was a shattered man, he looked so tired and frail, and the scars were so clearly visible."

Darren Rathband said his brother had found the flight to Australia difficult.

He said: "This was my brother's new life, and it wasn't first class.

"David often said, 'I wish somebody would turn the lights on'."

Image caption A private burial was held after the service

PC Rathband's family said that it was his wish to be buried in the town.

Following the service, the officer's family held a private burial where the father-of-two was laid to rest next to his 18-year-old niece Naomi Essery, who died in 2002.

BBC reporter Chris King estimated between 200 and 300 people - friends, family, members of the public and emergency services - attended the funeral on Tixall Road on Saturday afternoon.

He said: "On the side of the hearse, Tango 190 - his police call sign - was written out in orange flowers.

"One hundred and ninety blue balloons were released into the air signifying his charity, Blue Lamp Foundation, and his police call sign."

Image caption PC Rathband grew up in Stafford but moved to the North East to join the police

PC Rathband's cap and a boxing glove were on top of the coffin and a wreath showed the emblem of Northumbria Police.

Family, friends and members of The Royal British Legion carried the coffin, accompanied by a lone piper.

Police were joined by members of the fire service who marched from their headquarters on Weston Road to the crematorium, where police formed a guard of honour outside the front entrance.

Humanist celebrant Carly Fee told the congregation that Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life was chosen because "it encapsulates David's own optimistic outlook and irrepressible humour".

She described PC Rathband, a former traffic officer, as "David the brave" and "David the hero".

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