Hundreds attend funeral of PC David Rathband

 

Hundreds of people gathered today for the funeral of blinded PC David Rathband, which began in humorous style with the Monty Python song 'Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life'.

Humanist celebrant Carly Fee told the congregation at Stafford Crematorium that the policeman's family were "unanimous" that his funeral should be a celebration of his life.

She said the song - which drew laughs from some of the mourners - was chosen because "it encapsulates David's own optimistic outlook and irrepressible humour".

PC Rathband, a father of two, was shot by gunman Raoul Moat in 2010. He hanged himself at his home in Blyth, Northumberland, on February 29.

The celebrant described PC Rathband, a former traffic officer with Northumbria Police, as "David the brave" and "David the hero".

His identical twin brother Darren delivered a moving eulogy, pausing briefly to compose his emotions halfway through.

He said: "We were the image of each other, but I can never come close to the man he was."

Recalling the last time he saw his brother alive - when he visited his home in Australia - he said: "It broke my heart seeing him arrive in Adelaide. He was a shattered man, he looked so tired and frail, and the scars were so clearly visible."

Darren Rathband said his brother struggled with his blindness, and had found the flight to Australia difficult.

"This was my brother's new life, and it wasn't first class," he said.

He added: "David often said, 'I wish somebody would turn the lights on'."

Darren Rathband added: "I have always known that David was struggling to cope with his blindness, that he was left with on that horrible day, the fourth of July.

"How ironic that American Independence Day was the day he lost his independence and I lost some of me.

"Sadly we are a broken family from his passing and there is grief in all of us. I hope that those who carry a burden after his death carry it with themselves and don't aim to lay that at his graveside.

"It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenceless one."

Referring to the manner of his brother's death, he added: "Some of us will question why, but try to understand his loneliness.

"The darkness he could not share with anyone.

"When you close your eyes tonight you will have just the thinnest idea of the dark life David had to endure."

He went on: "I just hope the memory of my brother is not tarnished by others who feel the need to set the record straight.

"Because the record is simply this, PC Rathband succumbed to his injuries and the struggle with life, having been shot by a coward who will remain forgotten."

PA

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