Family and friends say goodbye to Daniel

Daniel McCullagh's funeral at St Mary's Church, Woodford
Daniel McCullagh's funeral at St Mary's Church, Woodford

Family, friends and villagers gathered to pay their last respects to the teenager who died while swimming in the River Nene.

Daniel McCullagh, 15, got into difficulties while swimming with friends in the river between Woodford and Denford on Tuesday, July 24.

His funeral was held on Tuesday at St Mary the Virgin Church in Woodford.

Close family and friends gathered in the High Street to walk the short distance behind the single hearse to the church, which was full of mourners. Others waited outside to say their farewells to a boy described by his family as “a typical 15-year-old, always talking and telling stories”.

Taking part in the service was the Rev Canon John Hall. He said: “In a simple but dignified ceremony, 300 of Daniel’s family and friends; members of the community in which he lived and from his school, joined together in an emotional service. Together we wept and mourned his sudden and unexpected loss, but we also rejoiced and gave thanks to God as we remembered a life full of vitality and energy. Of a young man who was simply bubbling over with life. Treasured memories were shared and the Rev Pauline Tate, in her homily, asked us not to dwell on the what might have been, but to celebrate the time that was shared.

“The thoughts and prayers of the whole church goes to Debbie, Jack and Gabriel, Daniel’s family.”

The Dukes Arms in the village has started a collection to improve river safety. There has not been a lifebelt at the popular swimming spot for two years after three were stolen or burned in quick succession.

The pub landlord, Tony Blyth, went into the river to try and save Daniel. He said: “We are hoping the river authorities will pay for the lifebelt and the money we’ve collected can go towards funding a youth club in the village instead so youngsters don’t have to play by the river.”

The collection has topped £600 and the village’s Jubilee committee has agreed to make a donation.