Standing ovation for young Blades fan killed in hit-and-run, as funeral celebrates life of popular teen from Rotherham
Applause rang out around the cavernous hall at Rotherham's Magna Science Adventure Centre this morning, as hundreds of people gathered to celebrate the life of a popular teenager who died after a hit-and-run collision.
Mourners gave Ryan Durkin a standing ovation as the coffin, emblazoned with the crest of his beloved Sheffield United, was carried out to the strains of the club's Greasy Chip Butty anthem.
A moving funeral service included reflections from the 15-year-old's family, friends, school teachers and teammates about a young man whose smile could 'light up a room' and whose talent both in the classroom and on the football pitch had meant 'the world was his oyster'.
"If love alone could have saved him, Ryan would still be here with us, because he was loved so much," said the celebrant Patricia Revell, who led the ceremony.
Ryan, who lived in Brinsworth, Rotherham, was hit by a stolen silver BMW in his home village on April 19. He died in hospital eight days later.
Ms Revell, shared memories from Ryan’s family of a ‘happy’ boy, who was a ‘thoughtful and caring son’ and had been part of a close-knit group of friends at school.
Although he was a ‘quiet’ and ‘well-mannered’ student, who was well liked at Brinsworth Academy, she said, he also had a ‘banging sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye which could get him and his mates into trouble at times’.
Mourners heard how he was fiercely intelligent, with teachers predicting top grades in his GCSEs, and they were told how much his loss had affected everyone at his school, which is planning a memorial in his honour.
One of Ryan’s happiest times at school was the skiing trip he went on in 2017, the service heard, where he mastered the slopes and embraced the fun and laughter off them.
He was due to return this year and staff and students, who said it would not be the same without him, plan to leave a tribute at the summit in his memory.
Ryan loved music and fashion but football was his first passion, Ms Revell explained. He was a Sheffield United season ticket holder and played for Phoenix FC’s Under-15s.
Ms Revell told how he was a 'skilful midfielder’ who was a ‘force to be reckoned with on the pitch’, despite his mild-mannered demeanour off it, and had last season won the parents’ player of the year award.
A memorial tournament organised by teammates has raised over £2,500, on top of more than £6,000 raised through an online appeal.
His family has asked for any donations to be made to The Sick Children’s Trust at Sheffield Children’s Hospice which they said had done so much for him.
In a heart-wrenching message, Ryan’s girlfriend Ellie said: “You always were and will be my love… Tragically, you were taken from us and from that moment a part of me broke but my heart still holds our special memories and moments we shared together. I will live this life for the both of us, along with the rest of your friends and family.”
Ms Revell described how Ryan’s death had left his parents, brothers and extended family ‘shattered’, and how they found the family home eerily quiet with no ‘Xbox blaring and no booming music’.
But the abiding memory of those who knew him, she said, was his infectious smile.
“He had a smile that could light up a room, and, as big as this hall is, the love you all have in your hearts for him is lighting up this room too….
“Diamonds don’t turn to dust or fade away, and Ryan was a diamond who shone brighter than the rest.”
Anyone who saw the collision is asked to call police on 101, quoting the incident number 1099 of April 19.