HUNDREDS of people paid their respects to an “inspirational” youth worker.
Two communities came out to celebrate the life of 30-year-old Darren ‘Coco’ Roberts who died earlier this month – one day after being involved in a crash.
Every seat was taken in St Michael’s Church, Caerwys, yesterday as family and friends packed in to say a final goodbye to the loving father-of-one.
Following the service his coffin was taken to The Venture centre for children and young people in Garner Road, Caia Park, Wrexham – where Mr Roberts worked and dedicated his life.
People in Wrexham lined the streets and as the coffin, which was draped with red and white wreaths, entered The Venture – and a round of applause was sent out in his memory.
Crowds then packed into Pentrebychan Crematorium for a second service which was followed by committal.
During the first service, held in Mr Roberts’ home village, where he lived with his partner of 13 years Clare Ponton and their 10-year-old daughter Charley-Louise, his commitment to “changing his community” was recognised.
Chief officer for The Venture and Wrexham councillor Malcolm King paid tribute to Mr Roberts - who he has described as being “like a son”.
Speaking during the service he said: “This is one of the hardest things I have ever done in my life.
“I have known Coco for 25 years – nearly all his life.
“For the last 15 years he has been more like a son.”
He spoke of how he remembered Coco first starting at The Venture aged 12, going on to highlight his years of commitment.
“Most families now in Caia Park have at least one child going to college, who wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for him,” said Cllr King.
“His dedication changed his community.”
He added: “Over the years he became the most successful project manager The Venture has ever had.
“He didn’t just work at The Venture – he lived for The Venture.”
Cllr King said Mr Roberts had four great loves – which included his family, The Venture, football and his community.
“He helped hundreds of young people to achieve so much more than they would have if it were not for him,” he added.
He went on to say Mr Roberts had died just as he was starting out as the driving force behind a campaign to keep The Venture open.
Choking back the tears, Cllr King added: “We need to use his memory and beliefs he stood for as an inspiration in our own lives and that way his memory will live on.”
At Pentrebychan Crematorium members of his family described him as a “loving father and husband” and a “people person”.
It was also described how his ambition was always to work at The Venture after he regularly went there as a child growing up in Spring Lodge in Caia Park.
A minute’s applause was also then held at the crematorium to celebrate the life of the Liverpool and Wrexham fan, which was followed by the song You’ll Never Walk Alone at the end of the service.
Afterwards a wake was held at Wrexham Memorial Hall with donations going to the Welsh Ambulance Service.