Family and friends of a young Hartlepool man who died after he collapsed in Poland gathered to say their final farewells.
Simon Ankers inspired a fundraising appeal which saw more than £13,000 raised by generous well-wishers to fly him home to the town after he collapsed with devastating brain injuries at Poznan Airport in July.
The 39-year-old was waiting to catch a plane home for a surprise visit to his family in Hartlepool when tragedy struck.
The money was raised to bring the former Brierton Comprehensive schoolboy home but sadly he died in hospital surrounded by his doting family.
His sister, Victoria Ankers, who set up the funding page, said the family were overwhelmed by the generosity of everyone who allowed them to spend two precious weeks with Simon before he died.
His loved ones gathered at Stranton Crematorium for a funeral service where Simon’s zest for life was celebrated.
He had a great sense of humour, was generous and would do anything for anyoneOlwyn Dickinson
Celebrant, Olwyn Dickinson, told how as a teenager Simon had been mischievous and impulsive, including once at the age of 15 running off to London with friends where they were found selling items door-to-door.
An avid surfer, Simon later moved to Cornwall because he loved the lifestyle there.
Simon spent many years travelling the world, including spending a couple of years living in Australia and then New Zealand, as well as time in Dubai, Bali and India.
She said: “Simon was a family man at heart. Christmas was always back in Hartlepool. He would even go surfing at Saltburn at Christmas if he had the chance.
“He was a funny guy and a big practical joker, who loved his family dearly.”
Simon’s family have been inundated with messages of sympathy from people living all around the world who knew him, telling their own stories about Simon and how he had a big heart.
Ms Dickinson said: “He was definitely a people person. He had a great sense of humour, was generous and would do anything for anyone and everyone who knew him, loved him.”
She said Simon packed more into his 39 years than most people do in a long lifetime.