Car lovers got behind the wheel to say an emotional goodbye to a popular mechanic who died at the age of 35.
A procession featuring dozens of cars, including many older vehicles, formed the cortege to the funeral of Damian Hennefer yesterday.
It was led by a hearse carrying a coffin with an image of a car and a floral tribute bearing his nickname Damo.
Hundreds of people gathered at Howe Bridge Crematorium, with a version of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s The Power Of Love playing as friends and relatives packed into the chapel.
Celebrant Susan Wood opened the service, saying it was a celebration of Mr Hennefer’s life, before his wife Karen read a poem.
There was a moving and sometimes humorous speech giving details of his life, starting with his childhood as a “blue-eyed boy” with three brothers who had brown eyes.
Mourners heard Mr Hennefer loved cats and as a child he once took one he had found home for his mum as a Mother’s Day present.
As he got older he was a “party animal” and became interested in “anything with wheels or an engine”.
He loved cars, especially Fords, and was always working on some kind of project, the funeral heard.
He worked as a mechanic at his brother Geoff’s garage for many years, before leaving in January 2016 to open his own firm AutoWeld Bolton.
But cars were relegated as the love of his life when he rekindled his relationship with childhood sweetheart Karen.
They had been a couple for 12 months as teenagers, but got back in touch through Facebook in 2013 and “never looked back”.
Ms Wood said: “He always said she was the first and only love of his life. They soon built a really happy family.”
The couple were married in October 2015 and went to Gran Canaria for their honeymoon.
Mr Hennefer loved spending time with his stepchildren Kayleigh, 17, Tegan, 14, and Jack, 11.
He also enjoyed listening to music, playing pranks and was not always politically-correct.
Ms Wood said: “Damian was a kind, gentle person. He was a giant of a man in every way and he will be enormously missed by all his family and friends.
“Damian leaves his family with a very special legacy, something that no amount of money could ever buy. He leaves them with a wealth of memories and hearts full of love.”
The service heard Mr Hennefer, of Broom Avenue, Leigh, died at the exact time he was born.
He fell ill in the early hours of Sunday, December 17 after drinking lager and spirits at a family celebration.
His wife said he was drunk and vomited so she took him home. But she later noticed he had turned blue, started CPR and called 999.
Mr Hennefer was taken to the intensive care unit at Wigan Infirmary, where his condition deteriorated.
Mrs Hennefer made the heartbreaking decision to turn off the life support machine four days later and he died on Friday, December 22.
Donations were being collected at the funeral for the intensive care unit.
After the service, Mr Hennefer’s family released doves in a moving tribute outside the crematorium, before a wake was held at Leigh Miners Welfare Club.