HUNDREDS of mourners gathered to say farewell to a caring South Tyneside father tragically killed in a road accident.
Michael Lewthwaite, 49, died when his motorcycle collided with a Royal Mail van near the entrance of the Tyne Pedestrian Tunnel, in North Tyneside on June 12.
Yesterday, mourners gathered in huge numbers at Harton Cemetery Chapel to pay their respects to the much-loved son, brother, father and grandfather.
Silence fell as the hearse carrying Michael’s coffin arrived at the church before the Savage Garden song Affirmation played as his coffin was carried in.
The tune had been chosen by his two children, Sabrina, 24, and Conrad, 23.
The service, which people travelled from across the country to attend, was led by humanist minister Ian Hunter, who spoke of a “popular and special lad who had brought so much joy to people’s lives”.
Mr Hunter spoke of his creativity as a youngster and how he would always have a project on the go.
As a teenager, Michael had found himself a Saturday job at a Tropical Fish store and had his own tanks at home.
After leaving school, he went onto work at Curry’s in King Street, and then at South Shields town centre pub Boulevards.
He was also a member of the Territorial Army.
Mr Hunter also spoke of Michael’s joy at becoming a father and how he was “devoted and proud” of his role.
Described by his family as a “free spirit”, he had been an integral part in helping his family cope with the death of his sister Denise Healy, who died from a brain tumour, aged 37, eight years ago.
Michael, who was also a grandfather to two-year-old Dragun, was laid to rest just a few feet away from his sister.
As Dido’s White Flag played, his friends and family were invited to spend a few moments to recall their own memories of Michael.
Monies donated at Michael’s funeral will be donated to The Carers’ Trust, after the charity offered valuable support to Michael’s sister Denise during her illness.
Her husband, Patrick Healy, became trustee of the charity after her death, in a bid to ensure other families were aware of the support the organisation offers.
Michael worked as a self-employed engineer and pipe fitter in the oil and gas industry, often working offshore all over Europe.
His younger brother, Anthony, 46, had been driving to work behind him when the collision happened.
After the accident, on the A187 in Howdon, Michael was taken to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he sadly died the next day.