Stephen Gately Funeral Held
Fans, friends and the four remaining members of Boyzone said farewell today to singer, presenter and actor Stephen Gately.
In an emotional funeral broadcast in audio to over 4000 gathered members of the local community, and supporters of Boyzone, outside the church of St Laurence O’Toole on Sheriff Street in Northern Dublin where Gately grew-up, and returned home for the final time last night.
Fans, friends and the four remaining members of Boyzone said farewell today to singer, presenter and actor Stephen Gately. In an emotional funeral broadcast in audio to over 4000 gathered members of the local community, and supporters of Boyzone, outside the church of St Laurence O’Toole on Sheriff Street in Northern Dublin where Gately grew-up, and returned home for the final time last night.
Gately, nicknamed ‘Steo’ by friends, died last Saturday of natural causes while on holiday. The 33-year-old’s body was brought back to Ireland last night by his co-Boyzone stars Ronan Keating, Mikey Graham, Keith Duffy and Shane Lynch. They later held a final ‘party’ with Stephen in the church which lasted until 6.30am. It is reported that they celebrated their 16-year friendship with a bottle of wine and a fish and chip supper. While many mourners were local some had traveled from across the UK and as far away as Taiwan to be outside the church.
An emotional Keating sang In This Life during the almost 90-minute service, before reading a tribute. “I have lost my brother. Life will never be the same. He was a man, a friend, a son, a husband and a hero.”
The funeral was broadcast on speakers to the gathered crowd and across Ireland and the UK on Sky News. BBC News also broadcast the service in the UK on their rolling news channel.
Celebrity friends of Gately’s paid their respects at the church including Boyzone’s manager Louis Walsh, Emmerdale actor Chris Bisson, Neighbours and West End singer/actor Jason Donovan, Brian McFadden and his former fellow Westlife band mates, former Irish PM Bertie Ahern and Vanessa Feltz. Big names who couldn’t attend but sent their condolences included rock group U2, pop group Take That, singers Robbie Williams and George Michael, X Factor judges Simon Cowell and Cheryl Cole, pop star Elton John and Gately’s co-star from his time in the London Palladium production of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Christopher Biggins.
Speaking on Sky News many fans paid tribute to the “grounded” and “professional” singer-turned-actor including some showbiz friends who have been “disgusted” by recent press reports over the tragic end to the “kind and gentle” Gately. Friend and Heat Magazine Editor Hannah Fernando blasted the Daily Mail, and one of its gutter writers, for commenting on Stephen’s demise in an inappropriate manor. An article which has thus far, at least, gained over 1000 complaints to the PCC.
Fernando told Sky News “I’m very aware that, my position at the moment is to put out there what Stephen was really like when there is a lot of sinsisium and speculation. [The Jan Moir article was] “absolutely disgraceful, and it should never have been written in my opinion. Too right that there were lots of complaints, it was disgusting and it was disrespectful for Stephen and for his family and for all the friends around him who knew him because it was inaccurate and it wasn’t a fair representation of the man that he was, that we’ve heard so clearly and distinctly today what Stephen was all about. It was terrible.
“I’m here to remember Stephen for the right reasons because I knew him and because I knew what a genuine guy he was.”
She added: “He was just so, so genuine. In this showbiz circuit, which I certainly work in on a daily basis, it’s very unusual to meet characters like that, that will literally treat you as one of their own and be funny and charismatic and so genuine. There was never a chink in the armour, and that is why he’ll be remembered for all the right reasons.”
Leading the service Father Declan Blake recalled Stephen at the height of his fame. “Through his singing and entertaining …he really touched many people throughout the world. He brought great joy, and lifted the hearts of many, many people. Stephen, as we all know, was a real gentleman. He was kind, he was caring and he was very talented. He supported many charities in his own quiet way and he visited many sick children in the hospitals over the years and he went out of his way to bring them a little happiness… …the time he went in to see a little girl in hospital who was very seriously ill and he spent quite a while with her, and she was admiring the jacket he had on him. And Stephen took off the jacket and gave it to the little girl who died about an hour later.”
The gathered crowd were moved to tears twice, firstly when Irish singer Tony Kenny sang ‘My Son’ and later when Ronan Keating broke down while reading his tribute.
Fans concluded that they hoped the coverage on Sky News, and the BBC, and the tributes shown on the channels from the everyday public to the celebrity names proved what Stephen Gately was really like, and not the tarnished view some tabloid press had tried to paint of the star. A memorial service will be held in London – Gately’s last residence was the North London area of Highgate – at a later date.
“He was never a happier person. He did everything he wanted in his life. He just wanted to be a pop star, that’s it.”
-Louis Walsh, Boyzone manager speaking to Sky News.
“He had a lot of talents on his side, he was a great singer and of course he was wonderful in the theatre.”
-Christopher Biggins, co-star, Chitty
Tributes left on his official website, which he regularly visited, include:
“Stephen, you had a great big heart and brought joy to many. What’s more, you lived your life to the fullest, with a huge appetite for work as well as for fun. With music, acting and musicals you also lived your dream. As a friend, I was privileged to know you first as a kid in ‘Sherriffer’ and then as an adult. I have many happy memories: I remember the joy you expressed when you saw the Movie ‘Willow’ for the first time, only to be matched much later on by Toy Story. How proud your sister was and how worried for you she also was in the ‘early days’ for you and Boyzone. How concerned you were when family were ill and how you called up, distressed, when Mikey fell off his horse and was brought to hospital. As soon as he was OK though, the jokes came thick and fast. And many more happy memories, as with all your friends. My deepest sympathies to your partner, your family and your many fans. You lived a good life, Stephen. RIP.”
“Stephen Gately was such a dear kind person, he had a warm personality and a generous heart. He was such a lovely person and I will miss his messages”
“I feel truly blessed to have been able to have shared some special times with Stephen, I know that he is still with us and always will be even though the shell is gone the soul is not and he had the most beautiful soul. He had a small frame but a huge heart.”
“I have some very nice memories I will treasure forever with Stephen I will never forget how sweet and nice he was to my mum way back in 1997 and how he had time for everyone and he was always a delight to talk to you that’s for sure… I know that many people around the world are asking why, and are very upset with the news, as no one thinks that a healthy 33 year will die and especially one with such a caring nature about them. Stephen always had time for his fans and this is what made him such a special person to so many of us and he was not only caring but if he asked how you were it was because he really wanted to know and nothing seemed to be a effort for him all.”
“In darkness there are lights of many kinds, you were one of those lights, one that has now gone out, but that will be remembered for all the good it did while it shone.”
Ending on a positive note, fitting for a man who lived to entertain and bring happiness to his fans, a fundraising scheme set up on the 15th of October in Stephen’s memory has, at the time of this article being published, raised £10,500 in three days with online donations. Within the first 12-hours the appeal had raised over £2,000. The money will be given to a charity Stephen cared deeply about, the Caudwell Children’s Appeal.
Donations can be made at http://www.justgiving.com/stephengately/