“MY HERO”, “best friend”, “my heart” – just some of the tributes paid to four siblings killed in a tragic fire which robbed a family of a future together.
Grief was etched on mourners faces as devastated family and friends paid a final farewell to two-year-old Jordan, nicknamed Banger by his mum, four-year-old twins Holly and Ella and 19-year-old Reece Smith at the youngsters’ funeral.
Horse-drawn carriages with two separate coffins, carrying Reece and Jordan in one and the twins in the other, spent a few moments at the scene of the fire at their home in Freckleton before arriving at St John’s Church, East Beach, Lytham, where around 500 mourners had gathered to pay their respects.
The siblings’ mother, Michelle Smith, fought back tears as she paid a moving tribute to her children, whose photographs were displayed inside church next to four candles.
Reece’s father Martin Goulding described his son as “his best friend”.
He said: “In his 19 years Reece grew up to be a fine human being. He was a friend, always, and a hero to everyone. Reece loved his family. Now he’s going to take all that love and give it to Holly, Ella and Jordan as he continues to take care of them.
“Reece was not only my son, he was my best friend and I’m never going to forget the times we spent together.
“He made me proud to be his father. Sleep tight baby boy, you’ve earned it.”
The youngsters’ sister Beth then bravely spoke in front of the congregation about her favourite family memories with her siblings.
She said: “I remember just before Christmas Reece took me for a lovely walk in the countryside. Holly and Ella were my cheeky twins and I called Jordan my little boy. I remember Jordan coming running towards me to give me a hug. They are good memories.
“They will never be forgotten.”
Towards the end of the service – which was led by Rev Jack Wixon – one of Reece’s school friends Lucy Blundell sang a poignant song, composed by Irish musician Enya, May It Be.
The Blackpool FC anthem, The Dave Clark Five’s Glad All Over, was played as the coffins were carried out of church and taken to Lytham’s Park Crematorium. Many of those gathered wore tangerine colours in tribute to Reece who was a huge Seasiders fan.
The siblings all died from smoke inhalation following the fire, which broke out at their home last month during a party to celebrate their mother’s 36th birthday.
Reece bravely battled to save his siblings, who were asleep in the attic of the converted bungalow.
Police believe the blaze was started deliberately in a wardrobe in a bedroom where the children were sleeping.
Earlier this month, Miss Smith, who has five other children, appealed directly to the person responsible to turn themselves in.
An 18-year-old man from Lytham was arrested on suspicion of murder and has been bailed pending further inquiries.