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Hundreds attend funeral of Neil 'Babyface' Smith

By Burton Mail  |  Posted: August 11, 2014

  • Neil Smith funeral

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FRIENDS and family of a local 'celebrity' who passed away turned up in their hundreds for his funeral at the weekend.

Neil Smith, of Thorn Street Mews, Woodville, was found unwell at his home in July. Aged only 30, he died in hospital two days later.

Since his passing, Neil Smith's family have been inundated with condolences from an array of people who were friends with him.

Mr Smith was known to many of his friends as 'Babyface' after the Mail revealed how he was constantly being stopped by the police because he looked too young to drive, even though he was 17 years old.

After the story got out in 2001, Mr Smith was swamped with phone calls from national media including The Sun newspaper.

He also appeared on Channel 4's The Big Breakfast, Central News, BBC Radio 5 and GMTV.

Mr Smith's young appearance didn't stop him achieving his dream of becoming an HGV lorry driver, and most recently he was working for Emerson's.

Mr Smith's funeral was held on Saturday at 10am at St George and St Mary's Church.

His coffin was led to the ceremony by a fleet of three Emerson's lorries in celebration of his love for the vehicles and his career driving them.

His custom-made blue coffin – professionally airbrushed with pictures of HGVs on it – was carried into the Castle Gresley church by six of his closest friends.

More than 200 people attended the service to mourn his death.

The small church was not big enough to house the large crowd which turned up for his funeral, and many people spilled out onto the path leading up to it.

A large amplifier was set up so those people outside could share the speeches, hymns and prayers in his memory.

Following the funeral the huge crowd flocked to a wake at The Box Club in High Street, Woodville, to celebrate his life.

It wasn't all tears though, as Mr Smith's friends gathered to share stories and a laugh or two about their memories with him.

His mother Denise King tragically also lost another son, Lee, in a car crash in 2000.

She said: "Neil was always so happy and always joking and having a laugh. He couldn't be serious.

"In all the photos of him he is always smiling."

His stepfather Nigel King described his death as an 'absolutely horrendous shock'.

"Everyone says the same, that they just cannot believe that this has happened."

As part of Mr Smith's funeral, there were also donations made to the Midlands Air Ambulance, a charity chosen by the family.

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