TOUCHING tributes were paid as hundreds gathered to celebrate the life of a vibrant five-year-old.
Mourners packed into West Road Crematorium’s East Chapel, Newcastle, on Tuesday to say goodbye to Shilbottle’s Matthew Phillips who died from a brain tumour on February 1.
Around 200 people arrived to celebrate the brave youngster’s life, with many wearing a splash of colour in Matthew’s memory, while plumes of balloons adorned the chapel.
Leading the service, humanist Greta Cairns read heartfelt messages about Matthew on behalf of parents Vicki and Rob, 10-year-old brother Dan and teachers at Shilbottle First School, where he was a pupil.
She said: “Our hearts are full of compassion for Vicki, Rob and Dan.
“Nothing is more sad than the death of a beloved child.
“Matthew was such a special boy and he had already formed his own views on how he wanted to live his life.”
She spoke about his love of Peter Pan and said he showed great similarities with the fictional character. She added that he loved animals and had a constantly positive outlook, despite battling the tumour for four years.
She added: “Teachers said that Matthew was the main man at school. He loved to tell a story in front of an audience. He was a great listener and had an amazing memory for detail.
“He made connections in his life which helped him to make sense of his world, he showed real intelligence. He also had a great sense of fun.
“They added that they had a deep sense of privilege that Vicki and Rob trusted us with such a precious boy.
“There was only one person prouder than Rob on the day Matthew was born. That was his brother Dan.”
Dan wrote a special message to his brother which was read at the service. He described Matthew as ‘the ruler of the universe’ and said ‘I love you like no other human on the planet’.
Dr Juliet Hale, Matthew’s consultant, read an emotional letter to Matthew from Vicki.
She said: “You were beautiful inside and out, you thought of others all the time, for a five-year-old that is a pretty amazing and special thing.
“You did know Matt, you knew more than I ever imagined. You knew what to do to make this pain more bearable, right until the end; you just knew.”
She added: “The Indians call memories the haunting of the heart, all the pain, all the heartache now is worth every single memory I made with you. Would I do it again? In a heartbeat. I love you to the moon and back ten million billion zillion times.”
Rob also read Invictus by Sir William Ernest Henry in honour of Matthew.
Songs chosen for the service had a sentimental value to the family. Slideshows of pictures of Matthew, his friends and family were also shown.
And, as in life, Matthew had the last word.
A video of him singing The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine was played as a final tearful tribute to an inspirational young boy.