MARLOW came to a standstill as hundreds of people gathered to say goodbye to the “beautiful, cheeky, energetic and unique” Kyrece Francis today.
So many people attended the funeral service of the football-mad youngster, it was relayed through speakers so mourners outside unable to get into the church could hear what was being said.
Hundreds of people walked from Great Marlow School, where Kyrece was a pupil and was due to start studying for his GCSEs next year when he returned after the summer holidays, to All Saints church in the town centre.
Many mourners came dressed in the kit of the side he supported, Chelsea, while several others wore blue clothing to match the colour of the team’s shirts. His coffin was painted blue and white and bore the Chelsea club crest.
His Downley Dynamoes team mates, dressed in the club’s kit, carried a floral arrangement in the shape of the number 22, his shirt number with the team.
Some of his friends gave a tribute to him during the church service, with his girlfriend saying: “You brought sunshine into our lives.”
Kyrece, who would have celebrated his 14th birthday on Wednesday, died in a tragic accident in the River Thames at Marlow when he was out playing with his friends.
His family gave heartfelt tributes to the popular teenager during the funeral service.
His father Jason Marshall said: “I feel privileged to be a dad to such a beautiful, cheeky, energetic and unique young man. Every day I spent with Ky was full of love and a learning experience.”
His grandfather Freddie Finlay said: “The loss of this beautiful young man so young – a brother, a grandson, a nephew, a boyfriend, a team mate and a friend – has devastated us all. Kyrece has touched us all and is in us all.”
Stepdad Lewis Cook said: “Your mum’s unconditional love for you rubbed off on me – you were a gift from her heart.
“Watching you [play football] week in, week out – me, your mum and your sister are very proud of all your lifetime achievements. I’m privileged to have been in your life, to see you grown into such a strong character.”
A memorial fund was set up in his memory to provide life-saving equipment along the Thames path to prevent future tragedies on the river. More than £10,000 has been raised so far.