Hundreds at funeral for Leukaemia teen Peter Ashton

Mourners were decked in football colours for Peter Ashton's funeral. Picture: Scott Taylor
Mourners were decked in football colours for Peter Ashton's funeral. Picture: Scott Taylor
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LEUKAEMIA sufferer Peter Ashton told his little sister he could “see a light” shortly before he slipped into a coma and died, his funeral heard yesterday.

Hundreds of mourners turned out at Newton Church, Danderhall, to pay their respects to the 14-year-old who posted a final message on Facebook days before his death, saying: “The cancer has got so aggressive now my body can’t fight it any more. Thank you for all the support you all have given me. I still want to fight this but my body can’t, I love you all.”

The village church was a sea of maroon, with mourners wearing Hearts tops in memory of the young football fan, who was laid to rest in the club’s kit.

Relatives, including Peter’s mother Mary, father Jason and sister Gemma, wore shirts bearing Peter’s name, while his coffin bore the Hearts colours and club emblem.

Senior Hearts officials, school friends and representatives from cancer charities were among those who gathered for the funeral.

Songs played in tribute to the teenager included See You Again by rapper Wiz Khalifa and Fly by Celine Dion.

Reverend Carrie Applegath, chaplain at the Sick Kids hospital, asked everyone to hold on to the many happy memories they had of Peter.

Rev Applegath said mourners should take comfort in the fact that Peter was “so loved” and was always thinking of others even when he was so ill.

The Newbattle Community High pupil’s love of football – particularly his beloved Jambos – and computer games became the main focus of how the 
teenager’s family chose to remember him.

Mourners were also told how Peter displayed bravery on rare days out of hospital with his family, confronting people who stared at him.

He had lost his hair due to the cruel side-effects of chemotherapy but Peter would tell anyone who looked that they should refrain from staring at those with an illness.

“Peter would say, ‘don’t stare at them’ [ill people],” said Rev Applegath. “‘Go up and talk to them, speak to them about it’.

“Peter had a big heart. He loved life and he loved his 
family.”

She described a poignant moment Peter – who kept an online diary about his cancer treatment – shared with his family in hospital shortly before he succumbed to the 
illness.

Rev Applegath said: “His mum and dad were cuddling him close, and Peter looked at Gemma and said ‘I love you lots’. Not long after that he said he could see the light. Peter, your mum and dad now say, go to the light son.”

Hearts head coach Robbie Neilson and director of football Craig Levein were among those in attendance.

Peter, who died last Tuesday after a ten-month battle with leukaemia, told his parents he did not want people to wear black at his funeral.

kaye.nicolson@edinburghnews.com