SONGS of a young musician who died more than 10,000 miles away from home rang out as mourners gathered to pay their last respects.
Poignant melodies penned by singer-songwriter Ash Dean, 24, who died less than a month after becoming a dad to son Jayden, were played during his funeral at Stranton Grange Crematorium, in Hartlepool.
CLICK THE EXTERNAL LINK, RIGHT, TO LISTEN TO ASH DEAN’S MUSIC
The talented Hartlepool musician died in New South Wales, Australia, from pneumonia and septicemia on February 7, just five days after texting his mother, Dorothy, back home in the town’s Mayflower Close, complaining of flu-like symptoms.
Ash’s sister Stephanie, a 21-year-old Durham University student, paid tribute to her “cool older brother”.
Stephanie told the congregation: “He was the mischievous one and I was the sensible one.
“Even though he was naughty, he had a heart of gold and he was sociable and made friends wherever he went.
“Your memory will live on in your music and your son.”
Ash’s songs, including Please Don’t Go Away, were played at the service, alongside tunes by his heroes, including Bob Dylan’s Catch the Wind, which was played as his dark mahogany coffin was led into the crematorium.
Ash’s best friend Rachel Evans said: “John Lennon said ‘count your age by friends, not years, count your life by smiles, not tears.
“I find his words comforting when I think of Ash who was taken from us so prematurely.
“If you could count his life through friends it would be a daunting task.
“Enjoy jamming with Lennon and the greats Ash.”
Mourners were invited to sing along to John Lennon’s Imagine and other songs played at the service including Gerry and the Pacemakers’ Walk Hand In Hand, In My Life by The Beatles, Art Garfunkel’s Beyond The Tears and Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice
A recording of a memorial service held in Australia was played, in which Ash’s friend Sue said: “Ash was one in a million.
“We didn’t know him long, but what we did know is he was a super-talented little dude and we are grateful he blessed us with his talent.”
Lee Spearing, who played with Ash in a band called The Chapters, from 2000 to 2005, sang and played guitar on a song called Through Me at the service, which was led by life celebrant Volney Ham-Ying, who described Ash as a “free spirit”.
Mourners were asked for donations to the Dementia Society, in memory of Ash’s gran Dorothy, who died in October last year.
A wake was held at The Staincliffe Hotel, in Seaton Carew, afterwards.
Hartlepool musician and Ash’s friend Jeff Butterfield told the Mail Johnny Mac, a musician in New South Wales, will plant a tree in Ash’s memory.