The heartbroken parents of a young man stabbed to death on a Sheffield street have urged family and friends to celebrate his short life ahead of his funeral today.
Paddy and Karen Walker, whose son Joe died from a knife wound just days before his 24th birthday, said the popular lad would ‘not want everyone to be sad’.
In a heartfelt tribute to his ‘forever-smiling and joking’ spirit, the pair have insisted there is no formal dress code for the hundreds of people expected to turn out to pay their respects to Joe at City Road Crematorium at 2.45pm.
The couple from Intake also thanked the close-knit community for their support in the wake of the tragedy.
Karen, aged 50, said: “The funeral is about respect for Joe and remembering all the wonderful things in his short life.
“It’s an unbelievable loss, we will never get over it, but everybody has come together and been brilliant.
“We can’t thank them enough.”
Joe, who lived at home with his mum and dad in Hollybank Close, failed to return home after going out with friends on September 21.
He died following an attack in Rayland Road, Manor - and a 17-year-old boy, who cannot be named for legal reasons, has appeared in court charged with Joe’s murder.
His mum and dad spoke of the hole the Blades fan’s death has left in the lives of siblings Jack, 25, and Shannon, 20, and nephews Lucas, five, and one-year-old Bladen.
Grandfather Terry Foulstone, 77, who Joe visited every day following the death of his grandmother in 2011, is also heartbroken.
Paddy, 55, said: “His grandad lives across the road, so after his nana died Joe would go every night. He’s got a gym in his extension and they trained there together.
“Joe took him out to the pub, just so he could get out and about. He more or less gave up his life for his grandad.”
The former City School pupil used Fridays to socialise, but would be back at Hollywell Close to make sure he took his grandad to their local - The Ball Inn, Intake - the following day.
Paddy said: “It wasn’t until the Saturday morning we were told something had happened. We got to the Northern General and they told us there.
“We can’t believe his life has ended this way. He never really had an argument with anyone.”
Joe had trained as an electrical engineer and was looking forward to following in his father and brother’s footsteps working on electrical pylons.
Instead his devastated family are left with only memories and photographs.
One which will endure is him taking to the microphone for a sing-song on a family holiday to Egypt to celebrate Karen’s 50th in May.
Paddy said: “Joe was a good singer. He liked The Drifters because of his grandad but he liked all sorts.”
Karen added: “He would get us all up dancing and singing. He just loved putting a smile on people’s faces.”
‘A farewell tribute from his family to forever-loved Joe’
“We would like to say a special thank you to all Joe’s friends for the support they’ve given him and our family, our community of Intake, Woodthorpe and Birley for their care and respect, Ian and Richard our police liaison officers, Scott Jenkins and his family, Costco wholesale and Ford Windows for their support, and most of all funeral director Michael Fogg.
“No-one could have cared for our son better than him at this tragic time.”