‘You were my strength when I was weak’: Lucas Dobson’s mother sheds tears as father pays tribute to their son who died in river at funeral on what would have been his seventh birthday
- Lucas Dobson went missing after falling into River Stour in Kent on August 17
- His body was found four days later after an search involving 200 volunteers
- The six-year-old was swept away by the strong current and ‘just disappeared’
- Mother and father Kirsty Furze and Nathan Dobson gave heartbreaking tribtues
- His racing car-themed coffin was carried into St George’s Church, in Deal, Kent
- Were 460 mourners inside the church, along with a further 30 outside
Lucas Dobson, six, died after falling into the River Stour and being swept away
Hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of a six-year-old boy who died after falling into a river and being swept away on a family fishing trip.
Lucas Dobson, from Deal, Kent, went missing on Saturday August 17 after he fell from a jetty into the River Stour in Sandwich, Kent.
After an extensive search, his body was found four days later close to where he fell.
Today, on what would have been his seventh birthday, his devastated family led mourners at his funeral at St George’s Church, in Deal.
Dozens of people wore red in tribute to Lucas, and one of his favourite songs – 21 Seconds by hip-hop group So Solid Crew – played as they walked into the church.
The funeral cortège arrived at 12.15pm, with Lucas’s loved ones embracing each other before his coffin was carried inside.
The red coffin was dedicated to Lightning McQueen from Disney’s Cars movie, with the word ‘Lightyear’ in the shape of the tyres and ’95’ emblazoned across it.
It had a white wreath saying ‘Son’ behind it in the hearse, while a floral tribute of a teddy bear with a ribbon saying ‘grandson’ was also taken away in the vehicle.
Lucas’s Mother Kirsty Furze (pictured centre) led tributes today to her son, who was swept away by the strong current of the River Stour in August
Hundreds of mourners turned out for his funeral this afternoon at St George’s Church in Deal, Kent
Another wreath from Warden House School was laid, with the letters ‘W H’ on white flowers.
Members of the Kent Search and Rescue organisation which helped in the search for Lucas also attended to pay their respects, along with officers from Kent Police.
A statement released by Lucas’s family today said: ‘Kirsty, Nathan and all the members of Lucas’s family want to thank everyone who has come today to pay their respects to our beautiful little boy.
‘We are very grateful to all the members of the emergency services, and to everyone who came to support us in the search for him.
‘This is a very sad day for us, and we are grateful for the space to celebrate his life, and grieve our deep loss.’
In a devastating speech at the funeral, Mr Dobson, fighting back the tears, said: ‘Lucas George Dobson, my son. I just want to say you were more than that.
‘You were my strength when I was weak.
‘I’m sorry you had to leave so soon. I will always be here waiting for you.
After today’s service mourners carried Lucas’s coffin from St George’s Church, in Deal, Kent
His Lightning McQueen themed coffin was earlier carried into St George’s church in front of his devastated mother and other mourners
After an extensive search, his body was found four days later close to where he fell. Above: Police and members of search and rescue teams who helped in the search for Lucas were at today’s funeral
Following his death, Ms Furze had paid tribute to her son, saying he would ‘never, ever be forgotten’. Above: Inside St George’s Church ahead of today’s service
Floral tributes left by family members included one with white and red roses which read, ‘Son’ and a teddy bear bearing a ‘grandson’ banner
‘Goodbye son. I love you today, I love you tomorrow, I love you always and forever. Thank you.’
More than 200 mourners packed into the church for the service.
Ms Furze’s mother Donna addressed the funeral, taking deep breaths before paying tribute to her grandson.
She said: ‘The reason we are here today is heart breaking, but I would like to share some precious memories with you all.
‘I hope to make you all smile, maybe even laugh.
‘I was there when he was born. It was the most amazing experience, and I have got my daughter Kirsty and Nathan to thank for that.
The order of service which was given to mourners at six-year-old Lucas Dobson’s funeral
‘He was my perfect little pickle from the moment he was born.
‘We creates some lovely, lovely memories on various holidays.
‘Our first camping holiday… there was about eight of us in a four-man tent.
‘He wrapped himself to me and didn’t need a baby carrier. He was there for the whole four days.’
Donna said Lucas had a ‘special relationship’ with Nathan and they shared a love for cars.
She went on: ‘He had such a talent from riding bikes at such a young age.
‘You are still my perfect little pickle, and you are still Mummy’s prince.
‘Love you forever and always.’
The song was also referenced by Reverend Peter Ould, who opened his address to the funeral saying: ‘I’ve got 21 seconds to flow, I’ve got 21 seconds to go.
Lucas fell when, while on a family fishing trip in Deal with his friends and father, Lucas tried to step from a jetty onto the fishing boat but fell between the jetty and the boat. Above: Mourners carry Lucas’s coffin into St George’s Church in front of search and rescue teams
Lucas was swept away by the strong current of the River Stour and three men, including his father, dived in to the water to try to save him but could not reach him
‘Actually, I’ve got a bit more than just that.
‘I’ve got a few minutes to somehow bring all our prayers, all our tears, all our thoughts and questions together.
‘And that’s a hard thing to do at any funeral, but on a day like today, it’s a whole other story.’
The reverend continued: ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to rap for just 21 seconds?
‘It’s not easy and it’s not a lot of time to say what you want to say, even if you’re as good as Romeo and the rest of them.
St George’s Church in Deal, Kent, where Lucas Dobson’s funeral took place today
‘To get something across, to tell a story, to stir emotions, to make a point. A third of a minute. It’s not enough.
‘You can only scrape the surface of what you really want to share, of how much of your life you want to communicate.
‘In the past few weeks we’ve seen sharing of stories in Sandwich and Deal and across East Kent.
‘As a community was united in their search for Lucas and then their grief for his loss, we shared our love for each other again and again and again.
‘Our love for Nathan and Kirsty and their families – Nathan, I will never forget your courage as you stood in front of hundreds of people and thanked them for their support, Kirsty your love as you went to social media to pour out your heart.
‘Lucas was lucky, is lucky, to have parents like you.
‘Nathan and Kirsty, you shared Lucas with us for five long hard days and we will never forget the privilege of the way, somehow, he during that week he was our son as well as yours.’
Lucas fell when, while on a family fishing trip in Deal with his friends and father, Lucas tried to step from a jetty onto the fishing boat but fell between the jetty and the boat.
Lucas Dobson’s birthday was held on what would have been his seventh birthday
He was then swept away by the strong current and three men, including his father, dived in to the water to try to save him but could not reach him.
Three men, including his father, had dived into the water to try to save the boy but couldn’t reach him.
The reverend went on to praise the emergency services, asking the frontline workers to stand as other attendees gave them a round of applause.
He said: ‘We will never forget how the men and women of our amazing emergency services gave of themselves above and beyond to find Lucas.
‘I know many of you are with us here today and I want to take a short moment to recognise all that you did.
‘If you are one of those incredible people, Kent Police, Kent Fire and Rescue, Kent Search and Rescue, Her Majesty’s Coastguard, the RNLI, anyone else involved in the official search or simply a representative of these uniformed organisations, please stand now.’
He added: ‘Dear friends of our emergency services, East Kent thanks you from the bottom of our hearts – you gave us your 21 seconds, you gave us your five days.
‘You were there for us when we needed you and we will never forget it.’
Rev Ould continued: ‘When the police gave that tragic press conference on the Wednesday we found Lucas, the tribute they gave to the community here in East Kent was deep and profound.
‘Whether it is 21 seconds, 5 days or 6 years that each of us have to share with each other, we have been created by God to do that.
‘Each of us is unique and has been given by God an individual personality, an individual life experience.
‘Some of us spend decades on this earth, for some of us we have what seems like a fleeting moment and we are gone way before it seems fair.
‘Especially when a life is taken in such a tragic way, it is perfectly understandable to be angry, to ask why this can happen.
‘Whether we have decades of life, six years, five days or 21 seconds, every single one of them can be spent with God.
‘He’s already in them, in all the joy and pain, in the laughter and the tears.
‘And most important of all, he knows what it’s like to be a Father whose Son dies and he knows what it’s like to see new life when all around seems dark and dead.
‘I got 21 seconds den my vocals done, two multiplied by 10 plus one – this priest’s done.’
His address was met with rapturous applause and laughter.
His father, Nathan Dobson, re-lived the moment that Lucas was swept away, saying how he ‘disappeared into the water and never came back’
The Christian hymn Morning Has Broken was sung by mourners during the service, as a montage of pictures of Lucas played out on screens inside the church.
Prayers were read to mourners by Reverend Sheila Porter before the funeral ended, with George Ezra’s hit Shotgun being played for the departure, and more pictures of the youngster were played in a montage.
Ahead of today’s service Lucas’s parents, Nathan Dobson and Kirsty Furze, had urged well-wishers to donate to raise money to improve river safety, rather than sending flowers.
Posting a message to the ‘In Loving Memory of Lucas’ Facebook page, Mr Dobson said last week: ‘Funeral date is confirmed and is for everyone and anyone that would like to come to pay last respects to the little boy that brought so many people and so much love together.
‘Friday the 13th is his birthday and the day we lay him to rest. Unlucky for no one on this day.’
He and Kirsty Furze, Lucas’s mother, spoke of the tragedy which left them without their son
He added: ‘There is so many flowers around and 99 per cent of them will end up in the bin, rather than spend more money on something to be thrown away and go to waste.
‘We are raising money for the awareness campaign to improve river safety and also giving donations to all the unpaid emergency services that where involved in searching for our amazing little boy.’
He added: ‘I just want to say thank you for everyone’s love, kindness and support.
‘Just because we are laying him to rest it’s not goodbye from us or over in anyway.
Mother Kirsty (pictured above) shed a tear as she relived the horrific moment her son was swept away
‘You will see all progress and what is put in place for the river and safety awareness for along time after.
‘Thank you from the bottom of mine and Kirsty’s hearts we love you all and are so grateful our little boy can make such an impact and difference to the world.’
Mother Kirsty Furze, 31, said Lucas would have been ‘too scared to try swimming’ despite having lessons.
She added: ‘Lucas will never ever ever be forgotten. I’m so overwhelmed with the support I have and had and so is Lucas’ dad’.
Shortly after his death she and Lucas’s father re-lived the moment that Lucas was swept away.
Speaking to ITV Mr Dobson said: ‘There was adults right next to him and he just disappeared and never come back up.
‘And it’s only since the tragedy you notice there’s only a few life rings, I haven’t noticed any signs to say how dangerous the undercurrents of the water is.
‘I’ve seen children feeding ducks at the Quayside, a couple of feet away from the water.
‘One simple slip or trip could end in something like this and we don’t want anyone else to go through it.
‘You see how fast the water moves but you don’t realise how powerful it is.’
Maciee Stanford, Lucas’s aunt told Kent Online in August: ‘He was with his Dad and his Dad’s friends along with other children.
‘The incident happened because our Lucas was on the jetty and tried to step from there onto the boat but he fell in between the jetty and the boat.
‘As soon as he fell, the three adults jumped in after but the current was too strong; he had already gone. In the short amount of time he could not be found.
‘The current was so strong the three men could barely swim in it.’
More than 200 volunteers were involved in the search for Lucas, with many coming from other parts of the country to help.
Lucas, pictured left with his mother Kirsty Furze, was swept away on a family fishing trip
Along with officers from Kent Fire and Rescue and HM Coastguard they searched further along the River Stour and areas around it.
A body was then found by police on August 21 close to where Lucas had fallen in the water and Kent Police later confirmed it was of Lucas.
Experts from the emergency services used specialist equipment to find him, including sonar detectors, underwater cameras, divers, dogs and drones.
Writing on Facebook shortly after his death, Lucas’s mother wrote: ‘I’m Lucas’s mum and I just want to thank each and every one of you.
‘I’m so thankful for donations and the food and being out all hours searching for my baby, and for the police & rescue and search team.
‘I can’t not believe how much my baby has touched all your hearts. He was such a beautiful boy.
Lucas was swept away by the strong current of the River Stour and was later found dead by rescuers
‘Lucas is looking down on everyone saying thank you in his own way. Lucas will never ever ever be forgotten.
‘I’m so overwhelmed with the support I have and had and so is Lucas’s dad.
‘I really don’t know how else I could show my appreciation to you all.’
His cousin Chloee Martin told others to ‘cherish the good in life’ as she also paid tribute to the youngster.
Lucas Dobson (pictured) went missing after he fell into the River Stour in Sandwich, Kent, while on a fishing trip with his family
She said: ‘Rest in peace little man, gone way to soon. Nanny will look after you. I love you much and I’ll cherish the memories forever.
‘Life is so important so is family. Cherish the good in life. You don’t know what’s round the corner. I little accident is all takes!
‘This world’s a cruel place it really is. But I’m so thankful for the thousands of support through the journey of finding my little cousin.
‘Took time but we can now say our goodbyes and lets him rest now.’
During the search for the missing schoolboy, vigils had been held in towns across the South East of England, while Twitter users shared images of lit candles under the hashtag #LightUpTheCoastForLucas in solidarity with his family.