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Family and friends say farewell to gunman's victim

The first funeral service for a victim of the Cumbria gun massacre took place today with loved ones and hundreds of mourners paying their last respects to Garry Purdham.

The father-of-two was shot dead while working in the fields at his father's farm outside Gosforth, a random victim of Derrick Bird's rampage.

As a boy, the farmer's son ran down the country lanes to the village school just across the narrow lane from the church, where today his family and friends said their final goodbyes.

His heartbroken wife Ros, their sons Flynn, aged two, and Cameron aged eight, parents Jack and Bridget, and brother and sister Robert and Becky led mourners into the ancient village church of St Mary in Gosforth, for the start of the service.

Around 200 people were in the small chapel, with hundreds more spilling out into the church grounds, listening to the service broadcast on a PA system.

His death brought heartbreak and shock not only to his family and neighbours, but to the local farming and rugby community - the other two "loves of his life", his family said.

Mourners were asked by his family to wear bright colours and many of the 31-year-old victim's friends from the local rugby league scene sported the club jerseys of Whitehaven, Workington and Egremont - the three teams he played for, both as a professional and amateur.

Mr Purdham was described as "tough as teak and as gentle as a lamb" and many more young men wore shirts with the club crests of local amateur teams he had played against.

Village life came to a standstill, as Gosforth's three pubs, bank, smattering of shops and cafe all closed as a mark of respect.

A smiling photo of Mr Purdham adorned the front of the order of service with the words: "In loving memory of a devoted husband, father, son, brother, nephew, cousin and friend."

Inside was a collage of photos of Mr Purdham in happier times - one of him at his brother's wedding, another holding his two sons in his arms, another with his brother standing on a tractor, and one of him playing rugby.

A church has stood on the same site in the village since Viking times and, with different branches of the Purdham family farming the area for generations, the local farming community was also out in force.

Mr Purdham worked the fields at his father's farm, Low Boonwood, nestling under Gosforth Hill, just a mile outside the village, where he became Bird's ninth fatal victim during his killing spree last Wednesday.

Bird finally turned the gun on himself as police closed in.

The service, conducted by the Rev Jonathan Falkner, rector of St Mary's, began with a hymn popular in the countryside, We Plough The Fields And Scatter.