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Wednesday 17th September 2014
Max 23°C | Min 16°C

MH17 Victim Liam Sweeney's Funeral Held

Thursday, 21st August 2014 11:56

Grief-stricken relatives have said farewell at the funeral for the first of 10 Britons killed onboard the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.

Hundreds of mourners, including Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew and team captain Fabricio Coloccini, packed St Mary's Catholic Cathedral in the heart of the city for a service in memory of 28-year-old supermarket worker Liam Sweeney.

Football fanatic Mr Sweeney and his friend John Alder, 63, died while on their way to New Zealand to watch Newcastle United play in pre-season friendly matches.

They were among 298 passengers and crew killed when the aircraft was apparently brought down in Ukraine last month. 

Friends read poetry reflecting Mr Sweeney's devotion to football before the funeral procession passed Newcastle's St James Park on its way to a private crematorium service. 

The club has announced the creation of an Alder-Sweeney Memorial Garden outside the stadium as a permanent feature.

In the cathedral sermon Canon Robert Spence described the fan as "a gentle giant" from a close family who "deserved his place in Geordie mythology".

He referred to his "passion for all things related to Newcastle United" and said that he would attend not only first-team home and away matches but also under-21 games while "filling the gaps" by watching local matches refereed by his father Barry.

Prayers were said for all victims of the MH17 tragedy.

Dutch-led forensic teams are still working to identify the remains of many of the flight's passengers.