A TOWN joined together to pay a tearful tribute to a tragic baby found abandoned in a stream.
Kirkham came to a standstill as church bells rang out and scores of people packed into St Michael’s Parish Church to pay their respects to the little boy whose body was discovered by dog walkers in a remote field last October.
And the community was determined to ensure – despite the continuing mystery surrounding the boy’s identity – the tiny youngster was laid to rest with dignity.
The funeral was organised thanks to the generosity of local firms and the community, who donated more than £1,000 to ensure it could go ahead.
And Rev Rick Bunday, who led the service, said: “The funeral service is deeply sad – there is no way of side-stepping that.
“However hard we may try, the circumstances surrounding the discovery of this baby boy’s body outside of our town is disturbing and heart wrenching.
“But the funeral service is not about considering and debating the actions of those who placed this baby boy in Spen Brook during October of last year.
“We come together as a community, in this market town of Kirkham, to mark the passing of a life which was short-lived but nevertheless significant to the one who created him.”
The hymn All Things Bright and Beautiful rang out across the church as residents came together to pay their respects to the youngster.
Elaine Silverwood, the town’s former mayor, was instrumental in organising the service and said: “It was really very moving and it was a big turn-out for him, everybody wanted to pay their respects.
“I think we take it for granted the community spirit in Kirkham but it is different from other places.
“The service was wonderful – it was very difficult for everyone involved but I think it was a lovely atmosphere in the church.”
The coffin was carried into the church by police sergeant Eamon Miller. Det Chief Insp Andrea Barrow, who is leading the investigation into the baby’s death, lit a candle of remembrance during the service.
Residents laid flowers and cuddly toys in the churchyard, and threw petals as the baby’s small blue coffin was lowered into the ground.
One teddy left outside the church held a small card which read: “Baby boy, rest in peace little one”.
Sophie Hornby, 19, from Kirkham, came with her mother, Cheryl, and brought two teddy bears for the youngster.
She said: “It was just a horrible event but it is nice everyone came down to the funeral for one child who has no family and has nothing, so we are his family now.
“I brought two teddy bears and my mum brought one because the baby doesn’t have anything and we wanted it to have some nice things.
“The whole community got involved and I’ve never ever seen everyone this close together.”
Several town centre shops closed early and others allowed staff members to leave in time to attend the 5pm funeral.
Rachael Berrisford, 16, from Debbie-Jayne’s hairdressers, on Freckleton Street, said: “I finished work to come down because I wanted to pay my respects.
“The baby has no family and I think it’s sad.”
And her boss Philip Watkinson added: “Rachael wanted to come and it’s the least we could do to pay our respects.
“Kirkham is a lovely community and we’ve all come together.”
Local funeral directors Billingtons offered their services free of charge for the service, while Preston-based firm the McMurray Brothers agreed to provide a headstone, also free of charge.
The money raised by the community is set to be given to a local childrens’ charity.
The mayor of Kirkham Coun Peter Hardy attended the service but had to be treated by paramedics after collapsing in church.