Town at a standstill as families bid final farewell to crash sons

A TOWN centre came to a standstill yesterday for a funeral procession for two teenagers who were killed when their car hit a tree.

Michael Gallagher, 16, and 15-year-old Thomas Hughes were with friend Antonia Browne, 14, when they were died in the crash on the A630 at Conisbrough, near Doncaster, on Sunday, January 30.

Police believe Michael, who was too young to have a licence, had been driving, with Antonia in the front passenger seat and Thomas in the back, when their Honda Civic careered off the road at about 4.30am.

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A funeral service was held for Antonia on Monday at Doncaster’s St Peter in Chains church, and yesterday more than 1,000 people gathered at Doncaster Minster to pay tribute to the two boys.

Michael’s father, also called Michael, spoke of the pair during the service, and said: “They made me so proud. It was always a pleasure to be with them, to get to know them and share their lives.”

Mr Gallagher added: “I don’t understand why they were taken away from us, I will never understand. But I do know that the distance between us is only a heartbeat. I love you both.”

Family friend David Shaw read tributes to Thomas, who lived with his family in Bessacarr, and spoke of his strong friendship with Michael and their shared love of go-karting and other sports.

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Mr Shaw read eulogies from Thomas’ mother and father and added his own memories of the teenager. He said: “Everyone that knows Tom realises things will never be the same without him.

“From team mates, school friends and karting buddies, to his closest friends and his loving family, there is now a massive void that can never be filled.”

Mourners sang the hymns Morning Has Broken and All Things Bright and Beautiful and the service also included the song Something Inside So Strong by Labi Siffre.

Pippa Dodgshon, Thomas’ headteacher at the town’s Hall Cross School, paid an emotional tribute to her pupil, describing him as “an outstanding individual but also a striking team member”.

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She added: “In his passing he has broken many hearts, but we will always be proud that he came to our school and we will treasure his memory.”

Paul Gray, headteacher at Doncaster’s McAuley Catholic High School, where both Michael and Antonia were pupils, also spoke and said the word most often associated with Michael was “legend”.

Mr Gray added: “I knew Michael, but I didn’t know what a presence he was among other students. They described his gentle sense of humour, his smile, his laughter.

“He was self-assured, he was confident, he simply did his own thing. And by being himself, he brought joy to others.”

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Police motorcycle outriders cleared a path for the two hearses and four limousines in the funeral cortege, which left Doncaster Minster at noon yesterday after the service which had begun at 10.30am.

Both families and close friends then attended a private burial service at Doncaster’s Rose Hill Cemetery before a reception that was held at the Regent Hotel in the town’s South Parade.

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