Crowds gathered from far and wide and wore bright clothing to celebrate the life of a young Wrexham man who touched the hearts of many.
At least 250 people attended a celebration of the life of 23-year-old Will Clark, of Springfield Lane in Marford, at Pentrebychan Crematorium on Friday.
There has been an outpouring of heartfelt tributes to the former Darland High School pupil since he died last month following a year-long battle with leukaemia.
Loved ones including Will’s father Trevor carried the coffin, which was adorned with flowers, tributes and the slogan ‘To Infinity and Beyond’ – the catchphrase of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story, one of his favourite movies.
Mr Clark, 66, thanked people who had come from as far away as Singapore, Switzerland, Austria and America and also from across the UK to attend the ceremony.
Numerous family members and friends wore bright kaftans and dashikis in celebration of Will’s loud dress sense, while several others donned Newcastle United shirts and Wales rugby and football tops in his memory.
Mr Clark told a packed crematorium that Will loved, music, dance, vibrancy and people.
Will spent much of the last year at the Christie Hospital in Manchester but he was “strong and resilient yet charming and caring” throughout, his father added.
“Throughout his illness he took on his personal battle with his head held high,” Mr Clark said
There were many stories of Will helping others – often complete strangers – with no concern for himself, the ceremony heard.
Mr Clark said Will and the family became “part of the Christie family” over the last year and thanked the “wonderful” staff there – as well as friends for their support.
Ending his speech, Mr Clark tearfully told his son: “Thank you for giving your mum and dad the best 23 years of our lives.”
Will’s sister, Victoria Marigold-Clark, told of his passion for music and karaoke, his loud dress sense and how he entertained colleagues and charmed customers over the phone when working at Marks & Spencer customer sales and service centre in Chester. She said she did not think they ever fell out.
Addressing her “little bro”, she added their time together was an “an amazingly awesome adventure”.
She wished her tribute to Will could have been paid at his wedding, where she would tell him how proud she was of the gentleman he had become, adding: “If you were not my brother you would be my best friend.”
Another sister, Lisa, told of Will’s passion for playing various games and sports, adding: “He lit up every room. He brought energy to every situation.”
Will’s friend Alex Haas said the pair met at Phantom Lake YMCA Camp in Wisconsin, USA, where Will worked for three summers.
A memorial service was held for Will at the camp on November 5, and Mr Haas provided stories and quotes from parents, colleagues and children who encountered his friend during his time a the camp, where he was affectionately known as “Will from Wales”.
He added: “There wasn’t a person who Will met who he didn’t have a positive impact on and he lives on in so many hearts.”
David Wright, a Teenage Cancer Trust lead nurse at the Christie, said that Will was “so, so amazing” and a “truly beautiful young man”.
Mr Wright said he only saw Will upset on a few occasions, and these were due to the impact of his illness on others rather than himself.
Those attending sang along to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen.
They also wrote personal messages to Will as musician John Blaycock played a rendition of Randy Newman track You’ve Got a Friend in Me, from the Toy Story movie series. Those messages were later placed alongside Will.
The order of service detailed £15,000 had been raised by Will’s friends and family for the Christie and £3,000 for the Anthony Nolan Trust. More than 200 people have signed up to the stem cell donor register in the UK, and a further 23 in the USA so far.
Those attending the ceremony had the chance to give donations to the Christie Hospital Palatine Ward, Haematology and Young Oncology Unit, and donations can also be made at www.justgiving.com/
During the secular ceremony, celebrant Julie Pendennis read a poem entitled The Song of the Marigold Fairy by Cicely Mary Barker, and a poem written by Will’s grandmother Julia Marigold.
Music from R Kelly, Daft Punk and The Eurythmics was played to close the ceremony.