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Kidderminster says goodbye to brave Charlie
HUNDREDS of people gathered at a Kidderminster church today to say goodbye to brave Charlie Harris-Beard who lost his courageous battle with leukaemia.
St Mary’s Church was filled to capacity, while dozens of people listened to the service on two small screens outside, to celebrate the life of the inspirational two-year-old, whose brave fight has touched the hearts of a nation.
Friends, family and people whose lives he touched, many of whom were dressed in Charlie's favourite colours - purple and blue - wept as his tiny white coffin was carried into the church by his heartbroken parents Fiona Harris and Joe Beard.
It was followed by his favourite remote control toy car, which he rode down the aisle of the same church just three months ago as best man at his parents’ wedding.
Pictures of Charlie were shown on the screens outside the church as people arrived for the service, with music to popular children’s programmes including In the Night Garden and Fireman Sam.
The emotional service was led by Canon Owain Bell, who paid tribute to the youngster.
He said: “Not so very long ago many of us were here for Joe and Fiona’s wedding.That was the day Charlie stole the show.”
He added the first time he met Charlie, he found it hard to believe he was ill because he was “so full of life”.
“‘Had I made a terrible mistake?’ I thought when I visited his house and saw him tumbling and laughing with his uncle,” said Canon Bell.
“In such a very short life he has captured the emotion and hearts of so many people. I have seldom seen a community so brought together.
“Somehow, Charlie’s story and his courage has brought out the best in us and his family has inspired us.”
There was not a dry eye in the church as a family friend Kerry sang Sunshine, the song Fiona used to sing to her son to get him to sleep, and a special song for Charlie.
Rev Katherine Derby, a chaplain from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, where Charlie was treated, told how everyone at the hospital was “charmed” by him.
“We were so very, very fond of Charlie,” she said. “It was his smile and the light in his eyes that was so visible about Charlie.”
She added: “When there came the moment when he had to let go he was surrounded and held by his loving family as he slipped very peacefully away. His life has inspired many and will continue to do so.”
The service ended with Kerry singing Mariah Carey’s Hero and Charlie’s coffin was carried out by his parents to Luther Vandross’ Dance With My Father.