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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 October 2006, 12:20 GMT 13:20 UK
Hunter's widow in moving farewell
Lindsey Hunter
Lindsey Hunter lights a candle for her husband at Leeds Parish Church
The widow and baby daughter of snooker star Paul Hunter led mourners as his coffin was brought to the church where his funeral will be held on Thursday.

Leeds-born Hunter, 27, died of cancer in a Huddersfield hospice last week.

His widow Lindsey and 10-month-old daughter Evie were at Leeds Parish Church as the coffin was brought in.

In a book of condolence opened at the church on Tuesday, Mrs Hunter wrote: "To Paul. You are my husband - forever. You are Evie's Daddy - forever."

The moving tribute continued: "You are our rock and will always be with us.

"You made us what we are as a family. All our hearts always. Love you forever. Your family, Lindsey and Evie Rose."

Book of condolence
Lindsey Hunter's entry in the book of condolence for her husband

Other members of Hunter's family also signed the book before lighting candles.

After the coffin was brought into the church a short service was held.

The church's rector, the Rev Canon Tony Bundock, said the 27-year-old player never fully recognised how popular he was.

"Paul hasn't in the course of his life been able to know just how much people loved and cared for him," he told BBC Radio Leeds.

"All across the world people spoke of him as the Beckham of the Baize, which is an indication of just how much he has brought to the sport in terms of glamour."

'Overwhelming' response

He said the church would welcome anyone who wanted to pay their respects.

"Members of the public, fans and supporters will be able to come along, view the coffin and sign the book of condolence."

The public response to Paul's death has already been huge, according to his manager Brendan Parker.

"He is at least five times bigger than when he was alive," he said.

"That is why we think we are going to be overwhelmed with people [visiting the church]."

The three-time Masters champion was diagnosed with neuro endocrine tumours on the lining of his stomach in March 2005.

He died at the Kirkwood Hospice in Huddersfield last Monday.

Hunter's fans pay their last respects

Minute's silence held for Hunter
12 Oct 06 |  Snooker
Hunter loses battle with cancer
09 Oct 06 |  Snooker

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