AN INSPIRATIONAL outlook on life and positive attitude in the face of tragedy is the lasting legacy of a brave 25-year-old taken too soon by a rare terminal cancer.

Friends and family celebrated the life of Harry Martin and explained how his turn to spirituality in the months after his diagnosis has changed how they view their own lives.

Nine weeks after giving her wedding vows, his widow Sinead, who met Harry 12 years ago at Commonweal School, read out a heartfelt letter at his funeral.

She said "You taught me what I couldn't see at the time - that though the path may lead us here, there was so much beauty to be found along the way. That became the journey you led us all in.

"You've been my rock. You had the brightest smile and cheekiest laugh. My life has been immeasurably better for having you in it, my best friend, protector and number one supporter.

"In one year, I watched you transform from the most physically strong person I know to the most mentally strong.

"You faced your demons head-on and instead of remaining bitter and angry about your circumstances... you used it as another opportunity to learn, to grow, to lead and to teach, and my goodness how you've taught us all.

"As a young boy, you aspired to be a superhero - then, as a young man, a soldier. My love, you have earned both of those titles and more.

"You developed an incredible strength that gave us the courage to keep on pushing and keep on smiling. Even through constant pain and declining function, you looked after the rest of us until your last breath."

Harry was last year diagnosed with Grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme – an aggressive cancer which spread throughout his spine and left him wheelchair-bound - just before he was due to start basic training.

Harry kept a journal and meditated regularly to help stay calm and appreciate every moment of the time he had left. His family fundraised £95,000 before he died on May 16 at 10.20am.

Neighbours on Goddard Avenue lined the street and part of Bath Road to pay their respects as the funeral procession made its way to the North Wiltshire Crematorium.

Harry's mum Elaine, father Tony and siblings Charlie and Maisie each read out emotional tributes to their much missed loved one which painted a picture of a caring older brother and a popular, sociable classmate with a big imagination and inquisitive mind.

His parents spoke of a "harrowing" year dealing with an "incredibly cruel" cancer but Harry's love kept them going through the "darkest and hardest of times".

Eileen added: "We got through this because of Harry. He kept us all strong and... held us all together. He experienced and shared with us such wonderful things.

"He was and still is our guiding light. He gave us so much strength to face each day and find the joy and beauty in even the darkest of moments.

"When your own child gives you life lessons, that really is something to cherish. Thank you for the gift of making us all the best possible version we can be of ourselves - still pushing, still smiling."

Song choices like Queen's Another Bites the Dust, Redbone's Come and Get Your Love and Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life showed Harry's sense of humour and love of film and TV.

The weightlifting fan even prepared his own funeral speech, read out by dad Tony, which described the first few weeks after the diagnosis as a "living nightmare" before he found "a pure love and gratitude for life".

Another diary entry read: "All this can't be for nothing. If it helps just one person see life as I believe it is meant to be lived now, then all this is worth it."

Sinead added: "The future is an overwhelming concept. But through your wisdom and your lessons, I will live for you. You wanted to make a difference in this world and leave a legacy to be remembered by, you've done all that to a miraculous extent.

"We all share the same destination - it's about how we choose to spend the journey. See your life as the gift that it is.

"We all have the power to tap into our minds and enable ourselves to let go, to enjoy, to find peace and be happy no matter the rest.

"Go, be and do it all, in honour and in memory of our beautiful, brave Harry."

The small socially-distanced crowd of mourners listening to the service outside bowed their heads and took these words to heart as a gentle wind blew, the sun shone and the sound of birds tweeting was all that disturbed the silent summer day.