I am so proud to be standing here amongst you as Michael’s Dad, to celebrate with you all his tragically short life.
Michael – who “loved to live and lived to love”.
A giant of a man, literally and physically, who at only 19 was someone so giving, so considerate and so hard working. He was admired by everyone of all ages and was someone who loved to have family and friends around him.
Even from his earliest years Michael was organised! I remember his first holiday abroad when, after a long tiring journey and in the small hours, we arrived at the apartment and he unclipped himself from his push chair, climbed out, took his little haversack from his back and unpacked his favourite toys, placing them carefully around his bedroom before climbing into bed – priceless!
Always a happy and smiling child as he was growing up, by 12 he had found that great motivator, money! He started by washing cars – practising on mine, and with the wrong side of a scourer sponge – but he soon got the hang of it! Then grass-cutting, doing neighbours’ lawns – he cut more grass than the Council and in the process cost me three lawn mowers!
By 14, family friend Pauline managed to get him a job as pot washer at The Fox Covert pub. Here he progressed to salad dresser, waiter and barman and was an aspiring Chef.
With Michael’s attention to detail he practised and improved his culinary skills and perfected the art of swearing!
Michael loved his food. He tasted a sandwich in the same way he tasted life – he would lift up the bread, pull apart and carefully inspect every ingredient before adding his own finishing touches. Only then would he close his eyes and take bite – slowly appreciating every taste and combination of tastes, every smell, savouring the whole experience.
Then there was Michael the shop assistant – working at Marks & Spencers. Overnight he became his Mum’s best shopping friend with a 20% staff discount.
Michael the referee – refereeing had become his latest passion. He had always had a love for football – he may not have been the best but he read the game well. An avid Boro fan and former season ticket holder, we watched them win their first major trophy – the League Cup at Cardiff. Precious
He and his friends would travel to away games, but as much as he enjoyed this it was refereeing that took over and he found it was something he was particularly good at. He was confident, mature and authoritative with a natural presence on the pitch beyond his years. He was recognised by Middlesbrough FC and his coaches at the North Riding FA as being one of the best young referees in the area and they were confident he could rise to the highest level. He was so proud to be a referee.
Michael the apprentice. Following his studies at Teesside Training Enterprises, Michael had only recently been awarded an apprenticeship with Huntsman as an Instrument Technician. He was thrilled to bits that he could embark on such a career and follow in his Uncle’s footsteps.
Michael had all of this to look forward to, with everything falling nicely into place. The foundations he had so carefully prepared for himself, to launch his future career from, could have supported the highest of skyscrapers.
Michael has touched the lives of so many people, which is why we are here today!
He always had time for people despite his frenetic pace and fully embraced the sense of community. He was a good neighbour – once raising the alarm when he spotted a shed fire in the middle of the night and running out to tackle the blaze himself with a hose.
He had the good sense to dowse the nearby kitchen door, melting in the heat, and prevented the fire spreading to the house until the firemen arrived.
He was also the Good Samaritan who, when travelling home late from Yarm, came across a badly injured cyclist on Leven Bank following a ‘hit and run’. Luckily the cyclist survived despite being critically injured, thanks to his timely intervention.
If I was to describe Michael and the effect he had on people around him, my best analogy would be that of a giant butterfly; and all of you are the flowers he chose to settle upon in his short life. God’s most beautiful of creations. So busy moving from one to the next. It was only when he settled down with you that you could take in his true beauty.
His very presence in a room would turn heads. He was colourful, warm, kind, gentle, pleasing to the eye and brightened everyone’s life he touched; and also took time to listen.
Michael was a truly great friend, loving son, considerate brother, devoted grandson, nephew and cousin. Everything you could ever ask for in a person.
So understanding, affectionate, patient, caring, hard working and yet cheeky with a wonderful sense of humour. Despite all of these positive attributes, Michael was never arrogant, cocky or aloof, but was self-assured, modest, assertive and simply amazingly cool.
We can only be proud of what he has achieved; and like God’s most beautiful of creatures has had far shorter a life than we would like.
For Michael, life was there to be lived. If burning the candle at both ends wasn’t enough, he would snap it in half and burn all four ends. Better for us all to have shared his love, and our love for him, than experience a lifetime without it.
We are not here to be bitter, frustrated, resentful or angry about such a tragic loss. Michael would want us to celebrate here today as friends – surrounded by good people here to send him off to a better place.
Michael – thank you son – thanks for sharing your life with us, we will always treasure those memories. Although our hearts are bursting and aching for you to be here with us, we will remember the life we enjoyed together. Don’t be tormented son, with negative thoughts of what could have been. This is an evil world, and although you were God given, it is evil that takes you away from us. Please, go to the light for peace and to be with us always. We will meet again.
Michael, our loving son, we will always love you.
Please God, look after him for us.