Grieving relatives and friends of a brave 16-year cancer victim said their final goodbyes as mourners remembered his caring nature and ‘cheeky smile’.
It was standing room only at Endon Methodist Church for Matthew Hollinshead’s funeral service where poignant eulogies were read out, alongside an array of photographs depicting the teenager’s life.
Matthew, from Baddeley Green, was told he had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma on his 16th birthday in August last year. Just last month, the aspiring RAF firefighter passed away at the Donna Louise Children’s Hospital after his spirited battle with the disease came to an end.
Reverend Julie Herbert, who led yesterday’s touching service, said the former Endon High School pupil had ‘lived with courage and spirit’. She said: “A flower bud holds so much beauty, expectation and hope for the future – but sometimes it never opens. Sometimes it’s a journey never to be taken. Sometimes the beauty of life is touched by its frailties. That brings us here to remember Matthew and to give thanks to his short but beautiful life.
“I have been told by everyone I have spoken to about Matthew how caring and amazing he was – many would tell me that story.”
Reverend Herbert, minister for Endon, read out a number of cards sent to the family following the teenager’s death, which spoke warmly of his personality, big smile, and loving nature. Notes from friends talked about how Matthew would always be full of fun at school, with one teaching assistant remarking how the ‘true gentleman’ would make sure he held the door open for her.
A eulogy from Matthew’s best friend, who described him as a ‘inspiration and a hero’, revealed a number of memories of the pair daring to down hot chilies to remaining strong at the Donna Louise where he’d happily be raced around in his wheelchair.
Matthew Hollinshead passed away from cancer last month
Prior to receiving the bombshell news, Matthew was planning a career in the RAF and had also studied a BTEC in firefighting at Hanley community fire station – with a number from the county service attending yesterday’s funeral.
Doctors had initially suspected Matthew had been suffering from glandular fever before a biopsy revealed the devastating diagnosis. The courageous teenager underwent five different types of chemotherapy before medics confirmed the treatment was no longer working.
His uncle Dave told mourners how Matthew, who was baptised at Endon Methodist, loved his holidays to Florida and was very close with his family – with his last words at the hospice being, ‘I love you, mum’.
He said: “He was brave-hearted and dedicated and we are all so proud of him.”
Mourners were told how, despite being in the midst of chemotherapy, he attended his mum Elizabeth McEwan’s wedding. “Matt was an inspiration that day,” said Dave, who praised the work of the Donna Louise. He added: “He was laughing and wanted to be in the photographs – he would do anything for his mum.”
Reverend Herbert added: “He was a fine young man, who could not have been a better son and step son. How appropriate his last words were ‘I love you, mum’. He lived with passion and he’ll be an inspiration to those who loved him, for each day of their lives.”
Relatives have already embarked on fund-raisers in support of the Donna Louise.