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Hundreds mourn ‘courageous’ South Shields youngster

FAREWELL .. the funeral of nine-year-old Jack Leggett at South Shields Crematorium.

FAREWELL .. the funeral of nine-year-old Jack Leggett at South Shields Crematorium.

HUNDREDS of well-wishers turned out in force to honour the life of a ‘courageous’ youngster who has brought life to others after his own tragic death.

Jack Leggett, nine, of Primrose Avenue in South Shields, died of a brain tumour three days before Christmas – only two months after being diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.

In a fitting tribute to a boy who always thought of others, Jack has given the gift of life to three other children after his family agreed to donate his organs.

His funeral service – an emotional celebration of his life – was held at South Shields Crematorium yesterday.

Many guests were forced to wait outside as every spare seat and inch of space was taken by those wanting to offer a fond farewell to the Holy Trinity Primary School pupil.

Jack’s coffin was adorned with artwork from his favourite superhero Batman, while some of his favourite songs were played during the humanist funeral service, including North East band Lindisfarne’s Run for Home.

Many mourners wore flashes of Jack’s favourite colour green – including jackets and ties – to mark his life.

Among the congregation joining Jack’s parents Alfie Leggett, 45, and Susan Clarkson, 47, and his brothers James and Thomas Leggett, both 11, and Ryan Clarkson, 20, was stand up comedian and Hebburn star Chris Ramsey, who is Jack’s second cousin.

Humanist minister Ian Hunter paid tribute to a child full of ‘kindness’ and a ‘bubbly personality’.

Mr Hunter said: “Jack won our hearts with his bubbly personality, his kindness and his amazing courage. What survives him now is love.

“He will always be in our hearts. He is part of our lives now and always will be. He always brought so much joy and sunshine to us all.

“He was an inspirational little lad.

“He showed immense courage, amazing bravery and always had that great smile.”

Hailing Jack’s parents Alfie Leggett and Susan Clarkson, Mr Hunter added: “I was moved by their courage, their dignity and their determination that this day should be a celebration of Jack’s life – a celebration of his story.”

Jack’s illness was discovered in October, when he had appeared to be suffering the same sickness virus as his brothers, twins James and Thomas, 11, but his parents became concerned as he was unsteady on his feet.

His parents took him to South Tyneside District Hospital and doctors then referred him to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary for further tests.

Within 24 hours their life changed forever, as the couple were told Jack was suffering from an aggressive brain tumour, which was inoperable.

Jack was found unconscious by his mother at about 12.40am on Sunday, December 22 and was rushed to South Tyneside District Hospital, before again being transferred to the RVI.

His parents had to make the heartbreaking decision to switch off his life support machine when doctors made it clear he couldn’t be saved.

Friends and loved ones filing out of the service gave donations to CLIC Sargent, a national charity supporting children with cancer, one more way to honour a little boy always putting others first.

Speaking after Jack’s death, dad Alfie Leggett said Jack’s gift of life to three other children was a ‘fitting tribute’ to him.

Mr Leggett, a postman, added: “We were asked if he would want to donate organs, and we didn’t hesitate.”

“That is a fitting tribute to Jack.

“It is a comfort to us that other children and parents won’t have to go through the same thing because of this organ donation.”

Jack’s lungs were used in a transplant to save the life of another nine-year-old child, while his kidney and liver were used in other transplants.

Twitter: @shieldsgazchris

 

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