AS the first notes of Gerry Hunt’s drumming solo rose from the speakers, mourners struggled to contain their tears at having lost the gifted musician to cancer.
More than 200 friends and relatives gathered at Kindgsdown Crematorium yesterday to bid farewell to the 62-year-old who succumbed to lymphoma on July 14.
Despite a successful campaign for funds to cover the cost of alternative therapies, which initially allowed him to regain strength, Gerry experienced a setback last month.
But throughout his three-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he stood strong, never giving up hope.
This determination prompted him to write to hospital staff ahead of a transplant urging them not to ‘give up on him’ as he felt he had much to live for.
“His very name brings a smile to my face,” said his wife Maggie, paying homage to the man who asked her to dance one night and never let her go thereafter.
“I always knew if he was around life would be fun. Creating happiness was his aim.
“Gerry’s greatest achievement was his boys. He both supported and encouraged their musical talent. He loved his grandchildren deeply but will never get the chance to know them.
“However the murals he painted on their bedroom walls will always be there to remind them of his love and devotion.”
The father-of-two, from Wroughton, combined his two passions, his family and music, by teaching his sons Darren and Jamie to play the drums, encouraging them to try the guitar, and eventually forming the band Shred with the youngsters.
“Teaching himself to play the drums by ear, much later he taught himself to read music,” she added in her tribute which was read out by funeral celebrant Lorraine Heath.
“Music was Gerry’s number one passion and he played whenever and wherever he could. Forming a band with his sons Darren and Jamie was the highlight of his life and something which forged the strongest bond between all of them.”
Gerry never hesitated to put others first. This was never better illustrated for his wife than when he rescued a little boy from drowning on a holiday in Bali.
Mentor, teacher, friend and partner in crime is how Gerry will be remembered by his son Jamie.
“We never gave up hope,” said the 34-year-old in a note read aloud at the ceremony.
“We spent hours together doing everything and anything that we possibly could.
“In the 34 years I knew him he taught me a lifetime worth of lessons. He has guided me on each day of my life so far.
“All I know at this stage is that he is my inspiration, my best friend, my band mate, Father Christmas, my security, my childhood happiness, my tower of strength , the answer to any question I’ve ever had, my superhero, my dad.”
The family is asking those who knew and loved Gerry for donations to Cancer Research UK in his memory. To donate visit www.cancerresearchuk.org