Published: 00:01, 09 May 2014 |
Updated: 17:20, 09 May 2014
Moving music specially selected by Kayleigh Duff and dedicated to each of her loved ones filled Barham Crematorium this afternoon as hundreds said their final farewells.
The brave young mum chose the songs as she was nearing the end of her battle with a rare form of cancer.
She was just 24 when she died on April 15 at her mother Beverley’s home in Seasalter, leaving behind three-year-old son Kai.
At the emotional service, mourners wearing pink – Kayleigh’s favourite colour – filed into the chapel as the white coffin painted with pink roses was carried inside.
It arrived at the crematorium in a pink carriage drawn by two white horses and surrounded by vibrant flowers.
One floral tribute in the shape of a pink bow was placed on top of the coffin as it lay at the altar.
Music played throughout the service included Your Song by Ellie Goulding, dedicated to Kai, and Look for me in Rainbows by Miruisa for Kayleigh's mother.
The upbeat Little Dreamer by Christina Aguilera was then played for Kayleigh’s four siblings, followed by Goodnight My Angel by Celine Dion for her sisters Jade, Emma and Lainey.
For the entire congregation of friends and family, Kayleigh chose I am your Angel by Celine Dion.
And as mourners left the chapel, Dance with My Father Again by Luther Vandross filled the chapel.
It was a poignant nod to Kayleigh’s father Lee, who died of the same type of cancer as her in 1998 when she was just eight years old.
Bravely leading the tributes was Lainey, 20, who said Kayleigh would have wanted her siblings to celebrate her life and focus on the happy memories.
She said: "She would want us to think of all the fun we had when we were little and all the trouble we got into. We always had each other's backs.
"We stuck together through the good and bad times. We might have bickered, but that’s all part of being sisters."
She added: "She was funny, caring and a brilliant mum to Kai. She was also very stubborn, but she was a very strong person, right to the very end.
"I'm so proud of my sister. She is so brave. She is my angel in the sky. I love you big sis and will always miss you."
Lainey also paid tribute to her mother, adding: "Mum and Kayleigh were best friends. They were two peas in a pod, always borrowing each other's clothes and shoes.
"I want to say how proud I am of my mum for caring for Kayleigh and putting up with all of us."
Kayleigh's other sisters Emma, 22, and Jade, 26, chose a poem to be read out about the bond shared by sisters.
Adding to the eulogies was Kayleigh's close friend, also called Kayleigh, who described her as "the bravest woman I've ever met and an inspiration to us all".
She promised to keep Kayleigh’s memory alive for her son, adding: "You have given us so many memories that we will pass on to Kai so he will always know what a wonderful mother he had."
Leading the 45-minute service was Reverend Guy Laurence, who said it was a long time since he had seen so many people in the chapel.
Referring to the carefully selected songs and touching tributes, he described the service as "one of the most meaningful funerals" he had conducted.
He said: "The number of people here is a measure of how much she was loved by those who knew her. She was defined by her immense popularity.
"She was happy. She was a party girl who knew how to enjoy herself. If it wasn’t for people like her, this world would be a very dull, drab, grey place.
"She was also a very loyal person who showed us strength and determination during her illness which was truly remarkable.
"She fought with tremendous courage and was an example to so many people."
The service was followed by a wake intended to be a celebration of Kayleigh's life at The Heron pub in Herne Bay.
Kayleigh's death sparked a wave of grief from friends, family and well-wishers touched by her story.
As she battled her illness, they had rallied round and raised thousands to help her realise her 'bucket list' of dreams.
Video: Kayleigh Duff's funeral
In May last year, she had a dinner date with Hollywood film star Tom Hardy, who also visited her just before her death with his actress partner Charlotte Riley.
"She was happy. She was a party girl who knew how to enjoy herself. If it wasn’t for people like her, this world would be a very dull, drab, grey place" - Rev Guy Laurence
He is said to have considered attending the funeral, but did not want to take the focus away from Kayleigh.
In the same month, she was able to take her son on a dream holiday to Disney World in Florida, to give him happy memories to look back on.
She also had a hen party and then a bridal photoshoot at Whitstable Castle, so that her mother could see her in a wedding dress.
Her "groom" on the day, male model Danny Wisker, was among hundreds to pay tribute to Kayleigh after news of her death broke.
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