Grief-stricken families and friends pay tribute to pals killed in crash

Michael Gallagher and Thomas Hughes' coffins are carried from Doncaster Minster.
Michael Gallagher and Thomas Hughes' coffins are carried from Doncaster Minster.
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MOVING tributes to two of the friends killed in a triple-fatal car crash last month brought tears to the eyes of many who attended a double funeral service yesterday.

More than 1,000 family, friends and teachers and mates from their schools packed into Doncaster Minster for the 80-minute service for Michael Gallagher, aged 16 and Tom Hughes, 15.

They and their friend Antonia Browne, aged 14, died when a car driven by Michael left the road and hit a tree in Sheffield Road, Conisbrough, on January 30.

The headteachers of both Hall Cross and McAuley Catholic High schools were among those giving tributes on behalf of the other pupils.

A hearse carrying Michael’s coffin was the first to arrive at the Minster entrance, followed by Tom’s and four limousines bringing close family.

Both hearses carried floral decorations, many on the theme of the victims’ favourite shared pastimes, including football, go-karts and ju jitsu.

A large contingent from both schools and sporting friends were already in the church, some in football strips. Rival karting competitors came to pay their respects.

Pippa Dodgshon, head of Hall Cross, spoke of her pupils being “left bereft” at the loss of Tom Hughes. It was “impossible not to mourn the loss of all the things that Tom wanted to do”.

She described how he stamped his mark on the school as an outstanding competitor in the rugby and hockey teams and had an unblemished school record.

Her voice began to falter as she told the congregation: “I am not sure if a student could have had a more full and positive outlook on life. He will remain one of the best of us and we will treasure his memory.”

Friends of Michael Gallagher from McAuley gave short readings before headteacher, Paul Gray, paid tribute, saying the word “legend” kept coming up.

“His smile and laughter brought great fondness among his friends” and he “was one of those people whose friendship knew no boundaries.

“Michael brought a depth of humanity to our school and all who knew him.”

The Vicar of Doncaster, the Rev Canon Dr Paul Shackerley, said: “Visit their graves often, take a picnic to their graves and recall shared memories.

“Some days you will feel strong. Some days you will not. Be honest about what you feel, and share it with friends who understand, as Tom and Michael shared.

“Michael and Tom contributed deeply to the fabric of their schools and sports networks. Your presence here, every one of you, is a tribute to what they meant to you. Many lives have been touched by them. Stay connected as friends, as they were.”

Police outriders halted traffic on Church Way for the funeral cortege to reach Rose Hill Cemetery where the boys were laid to rest.

A collection will be shared between Bessacarr and Doncaster Wolverines football clubs and Sprotbrough Jujitsu club.

Antonia’s funeral was at St Peter-in-Chains RC Church earlier this week.