‘Farewell my son’ – family joined by almost a thousand people to say goodbye to Mark Denton

IT was the venue which was so often packed out as it hosted some of his most magical nights in the ring.

And yesterday, at the Borough Hall, on the Headland, Mark Denton packed it out one final time as almost 1,000 people took the chance to pay their final respects to him.

Ann Denton (centre) heads into her son's funeral at the Borough Hall

Ann Denton (centre) heads into her son's funeral at the Borough Hall

On so many occasions the famous old venue rocked to its foundations as Mark made his way to the ring to the sound of his signature entrance, the Bongo Song.

Yesterday, the song echoed around the venue again. But this time it was met by tears as friends, family and fellow sportsmen gave a final farewell to the 31-year-old as his coffin was carried in by his close relatives.

Those who knew Mark lined the streets outside the venue as his coffin arrived in a horse-drawn hearse.

Mark’s life was cut cruelly short when he was murdered on New Year’s Eve at a house party.

Just minutes before, he had texted his parents to let them know how much he loved them.

At an emotional service, the hundreds who turned out were told of the “loving, sociable and happy-go-lucky” former High Tunstall College of Science student.

His parents Ann and Brian had told how they wanted the funeral to be a celebration of their youngest son’s life.

They got their wish.

A large screen at the front of the huge venue, set out with dozens of aisles of seating, flashed with a slideshow of photographs of Mark accompanied by some of his favourite music.

Many were of Mark with his loving family, his best friend and older brother Craig.

Others were of him doing what he did so well, boxing. All showed him smiling and happy.

Those gathered took a moment to recall their own personal memories of Mark while all stood to sing the hymn Abide with Me.

The service was conducted beautifully by Minister Volney Ham-Ying.

He looked back on Mark’s life, speaking about his success in boxing and karate, but also his talent as an artist and his ability to play the piano.

He also read out a touching tribute from Mark’s girlfriend, Sarah Kinnie, who said: “I miss you more than words can express.

“I have loved you since day one, and I will love you forever.”

Hundreds of people have left tributes and sent condolences to Mark’s heartbroken family since his tragic death.

Yesterday, his popularity was clear once again as so many people turned out to pay their final respects.

His family thanked Joel Kerr Funeral Service for arranging what is believed to be the first funeral to be held at the Borough Hall.

Addressing the hundreds in the venue, Minister Ham-Ying said: “Understandably Mark’s family feel empty.

“But in the midst of their pain, they do take some comfort in all of the happy memories they have.”