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Hundreds gather for funeral of powerboat champion Dean Paling
FRIENDS and family gathered to say a tearful farewell to powerboat champion Dean Paling today.
At least 100 cars, many of them customised, formed a convoy from Hedge End Retail Park, followed Dean's blue coffin arrived on the back of a flat bed truck bearing the name of Paling Haulage - his family's company - and carrying wreathes, tributes and a number plate of P444 LNG.
An undertaker walked solemnly in front of the truck before a huge convoy set off towards nearby Wessex Crematorium in West End.
There were so many cars that police brought traffic to a halt and closed a roundabout along busy Tollbar Way to allow vehicles to join the road.
Many revved their engines to deafening levels and some even performed wheel spins as they roared out of the car park.
The 23-year-old car lover was killed along with pal Tom Emery in a car crash earlier this month.
So many people attended the funeral that people had to listen to the non-religious service from outside on loud speakers.
They heard how Dean, a former Wildern School student from Holmesland Drive, Botley, had an entrepreneurial spirit, setting up his own businesses both at school and more recently.
They were told how the fun-loving former Sea Scout had battled bravely against cystic fibrosis, enduring visits to hospital for a month at a time every year for treatment without complaint.
A touching tribute was read out on behalf of Dean's mum Carol in which she said it had been “such a joy” to have him in her life for 23 years adding: “I miss you so much it hurts”.
“My love for you will never go and is locked safe in my heart”.
Among those to speak was Hampshire-based racing driver Dean Stoneman, who fought back tears as he remembered his best pal.
He spoke of how the pair had taken the power boating world by storm in 2012, winning a major UK championship, with the friend he referred to as “Little Dean” taking on the role of navigator.
Mr Stoneman added: “We were just two mates taking on the world and winning.
“Dean meant the world to me and there was not a day when I did not speak to him.”
An acoustic version of Titanium by David Guetta was then played out as friends and family quietly reflected on Dean's life.
As reported, tragedy struck on December 2.
Dean's friend Tom, 24, of Moorgreen Road, West End, was driving the car along Southwick Road towards Boarhunt when the crash happened at around 11pm.
Emergency services were quickly on the scene but were unable to save them.
Inquests into their deaths have been opened and adjourned with the cause of death identified as a fractured skull for Dean and multiple injuries for Tom.
The inquest will resume in early 2014. Police are continuing an investigation and are appealing for any witnesses to contact Sgt Shaun Hopkins, quoting Operation Adelite, on 101.
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