HUNDREDS of people lined the streets of South Elmsall to remember murdered former soldier Ian Smith at his funeral on Monday.
The procession followed the hearse towards Doncaster Road to the Parish Church of Saint Mary the Virgin, where the service took place.
Mr Smith’s father, Ian, spoke of the wonderful times he had shared with his 22-year-old son.
He said: “Our son, my best mate. A fantastic big brother. He was our special boy.
“I watched him grow up into a fantastic young man. People said that we made him that way, but he made us what we are.
“All this has shattered our family, it is impossible to describe.
“We welcomed you into this world and did not have the chance to say goodbye. We will miss you forever son.”
He also spoke about how Mr Smith made everyone around him laugh and had a great sense of humour.
He said he loved watching his son play football and even though his son supported Manchester United, and he supported Leeds United, they enjoyed the friendly rivalry.
Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson sent his condolences to the family in a letter, read by Father Paul Witts.
He wrote that the days and months ahead would be difficult but hoped the family found comfort in each other and the wonderful memories they had of Ian. He said they were in the club’s thoughts and prayers.
Mr Smith’s brother Stephen, 18, read a poem dedicated to his brother and Father Paul read out another from his mother, Vicki Lownes, entitled, To My Beautiful Son, with the line, “Goodnight, God bless sweetheart, I will love you forever.”
His parents and brothers, including, Jamie, 15, and Liam, three, lit candles and placed them on the coffin to symbolise everyone’s prayers.
Father Paul described Mr Smith as an entertainer who loved to sing and was always the first one up on karaoke machines. A DVD remembering Mr Smith’s life was played at the service.
Family and friends then went to Pontefract crematorium for the funeral service.
Mr Smith, who attended Minsthorpe Community College, joined the Army as a Royal Engineer where he stayed for four years before returning home to work at Netto Distribution Centre, South Elmsall.
He died due to head injuries following an attack on Saturday, February 19. Five men have been charged with murder.