Page last updated at 13:53 GMT, Saturday, 17 October 2009 14:53 UK

Boyzone star in tribute to Gately

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Ronan Keating called Stephen Gately ''the perfect angel''

Members of Boyzone have paid a moving tribute to bandmate Stephen Gately at his funeral in Dublin.

"The world has lost one of its brightest stars, we have lost our brother," Ronan Keating told guests at St Laurence O'Toole's church.

Keating frequently broke down as he delivered his eulogy, at one point apologising to the congregation.

Boyzone sang Westlife track In This Life during the service before carrying the coffin out of the church.

Gately was found dead at his Majorca holiday home last week. Post-mortem tests found he died of natural causes.

It was estimated that more than 3,000 people gathered outside the church to pay their respects.

AT THE SCENE
Fiona Pryor, BBC entertainment reporter

It was amazing how many fans had travelled from far and wide to stand outside the church.

Many people had been shocked by his sudden death and some were keen to stress they were there to support the remaining members of Boyzone as well as Stephen's family.

I think fans were pleased to hear from the band members themselves and were particularly touched when Ronan broke down, so much so they all applauded him.

Afterwards, some fans were so distraught they could not speak.

Keating spoke of how close the band members all were.

"We will carry on but it will never be the same without him. Forever young and never forgotten. A man, a friend, a brother, a son a husband and a hero. I'm gonna really miss you brother. We love you and always will. And we know you have found peace. Perfect peace."

Mikey Graham spoke of Gately's devotion to his partner Andrew Cowles and of how much he loved his parents Margaret and Martin.

"With an audience, Stephen came alive - he truly became himself," Graham said.

"The band feels black and white without him. We were very lucky to be invited in to see a glimpse of the warm, honest and gentle loving man that he was."

Keith Duffy described Gately as "a giant of a man in our hearts. So many owe him so much for what he did. We were always there for each other through thick and thin."

The crowds threw white roses on Gately's coffin as it left for a private cremation at Glasnevin Cemetery ahead of a funeral party for 450 guests at a hotel in the city.

Boyzone's manager Louis Walsh spoke to journalists before the funeral service.

"He (Stephen) would not believe the reception he's got today. He was living his dream," Walsh said.

Jason Donovan
Jason Donovan looks at a tribute to Gately outside the church

"It's a fantastic feeling here today - we have to celebrate his life, he would absolutely love what was happening here today.

"He was always professional, he was so likeable. I wouldn't be where I was today if it wasn't for Boyzone. We're all in this together."

Grief-stricken

The X Factor judge will miss the ITV1 show this weekend because of the funeral.

Former Irish taoiseach Bertie Ahern, members of Boyzone and Westlife, Jason Donovan and Shayne Ward were among the mourners, joining many of Gately's close family and friends.

Fans from as far afield as Taiwan were among the crowds, with many of them laying flowers outside the church.

The remaining members of Boyzone stayed with Gately's body in the church the night before the funeral - singer Keating came out to thank fans for their support in the early hours of the morning before going back inside.

"They brought a bottle of wine in, they cried, they laughed, they cried, they are a very close bunch of mates," said Boyzone backing musician James McNally.

Stephen Gately
Gately was found dead on a sofa in his Majorcan home, aged 33

Messages of condolences were received from George Michael, David and Victoria Beckham, Simon Cowell, Take That, Westlife, U2, Robbie Williams, Cheryl Cole, Colin Farrell, Sharon Osborne, Brian McFadden and Delta Goodrem.

David Furnish arrived at the church and explained his partner Elton John was in Zurich on tour and could not break his contractual commitments but "was very much there there in spirit".

Loudspeakers relayed the ceremony to well-wishers outside.

Instead of flowers, mourners were asked to make donations to the Caudwell Children Charity, for which Gately was an ambassador.

His grief-stricken bandmates escorted the late singer's body back to his hometown on Friday.

Gately grew up in Dublin but had spent the last few years living in Highgate, London.



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