HUNDREDS of mourners gathered for an afternoon filled with tears and sorrow as friends and family of brave teenager Leon Rendle bid their final farewells.
The 16-year-old’s mum Nickie read a poignant poem she penned herself after the body of her son, who lost his battle with a rare cancer last month, was piped towards Warriston Crematorium by his Uncle Alec.
He played the When the Battle is Over, before Leon’s dad and fellow pallbearers – kilted just like Leon in Hibs tartan – carried his coffin, clad with a Hibs crest, to the sound of the club’s anthem, Sunshine on Leith.
Mourners carried Batman balloons through the pouring rain as they filed inside Lorimer’s Chapel to hear the Leith Academy pupil described as witty and gorgeous during a moving humanist ceremony.
There were emotional scenes among those who gathered as Nickie stood before them to read a letter she had written especially in memory of her son.
Nickie, who told the News yesterday of her preparations for the hardest day of her life, said: “I wanted to let you know, we feel that we were truly blessed the day you decided to be born.
“You were my gorgeous boy, my munchkin and my joy.
“You truly were amazing, someone special from the start, so kind caring and thoughtful.”
She finished the speech tearfully, saying: “You were truly too beautiful and had to go away.
“So you go on your way now pal – laugh, have fun, be free.
“Until we meet again wee man.
“You’ll always be in our hearts.”
Mourners were told of some of the highlights of Leon’s life, including holidays to Canada, meeting Manchester United footballer Wayne Rooney and having a Skype conversation with favourite actor Norman Reedus, who appears in hit US TV show Walking Dead.
Leading the service, humanist Candice Dillan said: “We have come together this afternoon to pay tribute to a much-loved, and very special wee man.
“We have come together in sorrow and grief to say goodbye to Leon.
“Everyone here today holds Leon in their hearts, and many of you will have some very special memories of him, that will always remain.”
The hundreds who turned out where also told details of the gruelling treatment the teenager underwent during his three-year battle with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare bone and tissue cancer.
Among the mourners were the parents of three-year-old Kai Laidlaw, who lost his battle with leukaemia at the start of the year.
And, after the crematorium emptied, the crowds heading on to a Hibs supporters club for refreshments, Leon’s mum, dad James and sister Chloe remained outside the chapel for an important family moment as they released Batman balloons into the sky.