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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 16:12 GMT 17:12 UK
Hundreds gather at Hunter funeral
Lindsey Hunter
Lindsey Hunter arrives at her husband's funeral in Leeds
Hundreds of mourners assembled in Leeds Parish Church and many more gathered outside for the funeral of snooker professional Paul Hunter.

The three-times Masters champion died of cancer at Kirkwood Hospice, Huddersfield last Monday, aged 27.

Matthew Stevens, Hunter's closest friend on the circuit, was one of the pallbearers at the service.

Former world champions Stephen Hendry and Steve Davis were among Hunter's fellow professionals at the service.

Hunter's coffin had been inside the church for the past two days and thousands have signed a book of condolence started by his widow Lindsey and 10-month-old daughter Evie Rose.

Lindsey Hunter watched as the coffin was carried into the church by six pallbearers wearing the snooker player's "uniform" of a dark suit with a black bow tie.

The hearse was covered in floral tributes.

Lindsey Hunter follows her husband's coffin into Leeds Parish Church
Mrs Hunter follows her husband's coffin into Leeds Parish Church

Down one side, the words "My daddy" were spelt out in pink roses and next to a photograph of Hunter was a card which simply said "From your princess".

Other flowers on the car spelt out the words "Legend", "Son" and "Bro".

Hunter's father, Alan, gave the first of four personal tributes, saying the massive turnout of about 1,000 mourners "would make our son Paul so proud" and showed "just how much our beautiful son was loved".

Fighting back tears, he said his son told him simply that he had been "dealt a bad card".

Jimmy White was among the first of the players to arrive, with those following forming a roll-call of the famous names of the sport.

John Virgo, Willie Thorne and Steve Davis chatted with other mourners as Peter Ebdon, Ken Doherty and Shaun Murphy were among the many others who filed into the church.

Ronnie O'Sullivan was one of the later players to arrive.

I admired the kid so much, he battled so very hard these last two or three years
Willie Thorne

Speaking outside the church, fans' favourite Willie Thorne said: "I'm deeply saddened.

"He's just going to be so sadly missed. He had a great personality, so you never knew whether he had won or lost.

"I admired the kid so much, he battled so very hard these last two or three years."

Bald Thorne recalled how Hunter used to say he did not mind the chemotherapy "as long as I don't end up looking like Willie Thorne".

Also speaking outside the church, former world champion Dennis Taylor said: "Paul just stood out a mile. He was just so good for our game.

"It's just a dreadfully sad loss. He would have certainly been a world champion, that's for sure."

Taylor recalled a particular final clash between Hunter and Ronnie O'Sullivan, saying the two of them walked to the table like "two pop stars".




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Tributes from Paul Hunter's snooker colleagues



SEE ALSO
Paul Hunter funeral photos
19 Oct 06 |  Snooker
Hunter's widow in moving farewell
17 Oct 06 |  West Yorkshire
Minute's silence held for Hunter
12 Oct 06 |  Snooker
Hunter loses battle with cancer
09 Oct 06 |  Snooker

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