Goodbye lads, we will always remember you

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THERE were tears of grief and fond memories as a community united to pay their final respects to brothers Dan and Tom Hazelton and their friend PJ Peter Johnson.

The three men, alongside Adam Taylor, 26, from Rickinghall, were killed in an industrial accident at Great Yarmouth last month. Adam’s funeral takes place at 1pm today at St Mary’s Church, in Redgrave.

All Saints’ Church in Stanton was packed for the funerals of the Hazelton brothers on Friday, and again for PJ on Wednesday. A PA system relayed both services to a crowded churchyard.

Matt Hazelton, the surviving brother of Dan, 30 and Tom, 26, led tributes at Friday’s service. “For me this is a celebration of what the boys gave to us,” he said.

Dan played for Stanton FC and Bardwell Wasps. Matt talked of how he and Dan grew up playing football together and of his memories of Tom fishing and laying down with a ‘roll up on the go’.

“I just wish I could win one more trophy with Dan and catch more fish with Tom,” he added.

Dan’s partner and the mother of his three-year-old son Freddie, Sam Ellis, fought back tears as she described him as ‘strong and dependable on the pitch as in real life’.

“A smile that can reach inside you, a look that says I love you, two arms that will protect you, my rock, my love, my life,” she said. “So many were touched by Dan in our lives, so never forget him, so if you cry, cry with pride, that this wonderful man was in your life.”

Charlotte Oliver, partner of Tom, and mother of his six month old son Alfie said she still had not ‘picked up the courage to go home’.

In a tribute read by her brother, she said: “I have so many memories that I will treasure in my heart for the rest of my life. The last four weeks have been so hard and the only thing that keeps me going is looking at our beautiful boy. He reminds me of you.”

Knocking on Heaven’s Door by Eric Clapton played as 42-year-old PJ’s coffin was carried in on Wednesday. He was well known as a local DJ.

Daughter Bethany, 15, said: “My dad was second to none. Irreplaceable. Who could honestly take PJ the DJ’s place. I promise to make you proud.”

Among the songs played was Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father.

His brother Paul said: “He lived his life to the full. He never did things half-hearted. Peter was a genuine larger than life, lovable character, that once met, would never be forgotten.”

He spoke of the close relationship between PJ and Bethany. “She was his angel and he was her hero,” he said.

A cavalcade of scooters from the Backstabbers Scooter Club, of which PJ was a member, followed his hearse as it left the church. PJ also played the saxophone in a ska band and Wednesday’s service ended with ska music.