Large crowds are expected to attend a “theatrical” funeral for Martyn Hett, a victim of the Manchester Arena terror attack, who will “exit like a diva”, his family have said.
Today’s open service to celebrate the life of the 29-year-old PR manager will be screened outside Stockport Town Hall for people who cannot fit inside the building.
Mr Hett, described by those who knew him as “iconic and beautiful”, had hundreds of friends and thousands of fans online attracted by his lively social media posts and a series of TV appearances.
“Martyn, having lived the life of a diva, and a social media sensation, he can’t just be disappearing quietly. He has to have an exit like a diva and that’s what we have to do,” his mother Figen Murray told Sky News.
“He’s got a very interesting coffin so he’d have been thrilled to bits with that”.
The Coronation Street superfan was one of 22 people who died in the suicide bombing carried out by Salman Abedi as revellers left an Ariana Grande concert on 22 May.
His parents have said they feel no anger towards 22-year-old Abedi as he “doesn’t deserve” to be hated, instead saying they have chosen to forgive him and wish to remain positive for their son.
“The guy was a young man who was brainwashed, who was radicalised from an early age, and he did what he thought was the right thing in his crazy mind,” said Ms Murray.
Mr Hett had discussed and planned his funeral, his parents said, which he wanted to be “fabulous” with two white horses and a flamboyant dress code.
"He wants people to dress smart in black but have something extra. A bit of something fabulous with it,” said his stepfather Stuart Murray.
Mr Hett was known for his tattoo of Coronation Street character Deirdre Barlow, which he had covered up on Channel 4 reality show Tattoo Fixers – by another, much larger picture of her face.
His original tattoo was just the word Deirdre, written on his ankle in script. He described how he and his boyfriend had gone for a haircut, “still drunk from the night before”, and “for some reason I decided to get Deirdre tattooed on my ankle”.
He’d picked the character because of his love of the soap, with his flat decked out with Coronation Street memorabilia. But he liked Deidre most of all, he said: “I love how common she is – a bit like me”.
Mr Hett would go on to have his tattoo fixed – with a huge portrait of Deirdre Barlow behind bars on his ankle.
He also appeared with his partner Russell in hit TV show Come Dine With Me.
In 2016, one of Mr Hett’s tweets went viral after he shared a photo of his mum’s stall at a craft fair. She hadn’t sold anything, he told the world, and his heart was breaking for her.
Mr Hett’s friends – many of whom had never met him – rallied to help his mum by buying things online. His first customer was a close friend who bought a knitted purple monster, and Mr Hett described how his heart was melting and his mum was delighted too.
Twitter followers ended up buying absolutely everything in his mum’s store. Just days after she’d struggled to sell anything at all at the craft fair, her entire online shop was completely sold out.
His mum went on to gain her own Twitter fanbase, and the pair were interviewed on TV.
Mr Hett's funeral will start at 12.30 and anyone who wishes to "celebrate Martyn’s life" have been invited to attend. Close friends and family will attend a private cremation and wake later today.
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