THE funeral of a man who had a “heart of gold” has taken place in Radcliffe.

Hundreds of people attended the service at St Thomas and St John’s Church to pay their respects for John Atkinson, who was killed in the Manchester attack on May 22.

The 28-year-old Radcliffe man's coffin, which was decorated in an array of pictures, was transported by horse-drawn carriage to the church this afternoon.

Some mourners wore T-shirts bearing John’s name, while others wore the Manchester bee and '22' on their shirts, the number of people killed.

The service, conducted by Revd Elizabeth Binns and Revd Carol Hayden, lasted around an hour before the procession left the church and travelled to Radcliffe Crematorium.

Music from Leona Lewis, Whitney Houston and Ariana Grande, who had just performed at Manchester Arena when the attack happened, was played at the service.

A eulogy, read out by Revd Carol Hayden, said: “We have come together today to give thanks to God for the life of John, for the privilege of having known him and having shared in his life.

“On leaving school John became a support worker, first working on the stroke unit and then working with young people who had Asperger’s syndrome and autism. He was so well thought of in the workplace and a genuine role model to the people he supported.

“John loved music; he loved going to concerts and had seen many of the great divas. If there was someone he wanted to go and see he would have the family on standby with laptops and mobile phones at the ready trying to buy tickets. He would think nothing of queueing for hours to buy tickets or see a star. It wasn’t only the music he enjoyed, it was the whole experience …the crowds and the atmosphere.

“But the greatest love and passion of John’s life was his family. He was caring and thoughtful - he never left anyone out.

“John will be missed by so many people in so many different ways. To all those thoughts and memories we have heard today, each of you will be adding your own… as together we come to give thanks for so many memories of John which death cannot take away from us. 

“So although today will inevitably be a sad day for you, when you feel deeply a sense of loss, at the same time take comfort in the assurance that death is not the end, it is not final, it does not separate us forever. And that one day when we too make that final journey through death, there will be our own loved ones waiting to greet us and to welcome us safe home.”

A tribute from John’s family said: “John was not somebody that you could have a cross word with – he was too kind and thoughtful for that. He had a heart of gold.

“His senseless death has left our family broken hearted. Our lives have been shattered beyond belief. We will continue to miss John every day, until the end of time.

“John was the devoted son of Daryl and Kevan. He was the loving partner of Michael, they had been together for 15 years. He was a caring and thoughtful brother to Stacey, Laura and Amy. John was also a dear uncle, nephew, cousin and friend to many people. He adored his sisters and his nephews – his loss to them is immeasurable. John would text his mum and sisters every day making sure that they were okay.”