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Last Updated: Friday, 16 September 2005, 09:50 GMT 10:50 UK
Funeral service for murdered Rory
Coffin with saltire

The parents of the murdered schoolboy Rory Blackhall have delivered emotional tributes at his funeral in Livingston.

The 11-year-old's coffin was covered in a saltire and mourners at the short non-religious service wore tartan at the request of Rory's family.

In a reference to a legendary Scottish figure, his father described him as "my William Wallace". His mother said his death left a "huge cavern" in her life.

Police said Simon Harris, 37, who hanged himself, was the prime suspect.

A lone piper played Flower of Scotland as the coffin arrived at the Howden Park Centre.

Please, remember Rory for the person he was and the things you have heard from us today, rather than how he died
Michelle Blackhall

It was followed by his mother Michelle, his father Russell and his 14-year-old brother Conal, who wore a kilt.

Police officers who led the investigation were also present, along with friends and teachers. Many local people were outside the centre to pay their respects.

Three Scout flags had been placed at the front of the hall to recognise Rory's enthusiasm for the Scouts as a member of the 14th West Lothian group.

His family asked that any donations in his memory were given to the dogs' trust in West Calder, where Rory sponsored a collie called Jasper.

'Bright light'

Rev John Povey, a family friend and minister at the Kirk of Mid Calder, did not wear his minister's collar in favour of a less formal style of dress.

He told mourners: "There is no-one else in the world like Rory. Nor will there ever be again."

He quoted the Russian writer Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, who said: "Some people are bound to die young. By dying young a person stays young forever in people's memory.

Rory Blackhall
Rory had "passion and strength", his father said

"If he burns brightly in life, his light shines for all time."

The Deep Purple song, Smoke on the Water, which Rory had been learning to play on his guitar, was played before his mother paid tribute to her son.

"The face of an angel, Rory's smile could melt hearts at 20 paces and his cheery good mornings would make many a shopper's day.

"Over the years, many, many people have stopped me to tell me what a star Rory was and what a pleasure he was to know," she went on.

'Huge cavern'

"Rory will leave a huge cavern in my life and in our family. We will only be able to move on from this by focusing on the joy he gave us and on the wonderful young man that he was.

"Please, remember Rory for the person he was and the things you have heard from us today, rather than how he died.

"I know that he made me a better person for knowing him and I'm very proud to have been his mummy."

Michelle and Russell Blackhall
Michelle and Russell Blackhall stand at the hearse

Rory's father Russell told stories about his trips to Murrayfield to watch Scotland play rugby.

He said: "I miss him so much. My life will not be the same again. Rory, my son, had passion, strength and gave so much to other people.

"There is no question in my mind that Rory would have been a good, strong and compassionate man, partner and father.

"I hope I can be half the man he would have been."

Bullying memory

In a reference to Rory's love of Scotland, Mr Blackhall added: "To me, he is my William Wallace."

He also spoke of Rory's resilience in the face of bullying. Flanked by his friend, college lecturer John Cowan, he said: "He (Rory) went to a youth club and it turned out that he was getting bullied by a number of kids.

"We asked him if he wanted to leave, change, or let me deal with it. His response was simple - no.

Michell and Russell Blackhall
Rory's mother and brother enter the community centre

"He faced it out and dealt with it himself. He would not give in."

Mr Povey read a short passage from House at Pooh Corner by AA Milne in which Pooh and his friend Christopher Robin have a conversation which begins: "Promise you won't forget about me ever."

The piper played Scots Wha Hae by Robert Burns as the congregation left the community centre. A private cremation was held in Edinburgh.

Rory disappeared on 18 August after being dropped off close to Meldrum Primary School. His body was found in woods three days later.

Mr Harris was found dead at his home in Livingston on 28 August.

Evidence gathered by police would have been enough to charge him with Rory's murder, the procurator fiscal has said.

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