HUNDREDS of mourners yesterday paid their last respects to a hero policeman from Chester who gave his life to save a young boy who had been washed out to sea.
Jonny Speakman, 33, from Park Drive in Hoole had been bodyboarding while on holiday in Australia when he was among a group caught in a dangerous tide.
The Cheshire police officer's funeral was held at St Mary's Church in the picturesque village of Eccleston near Chester where DC Speakman and his wife Jennie had been married.
Cheshire's Chief Constable, Peter Fahy, told the congregation he saluted Jonny Speakman's bravery and said the officer was an example the force should be proud of.
Don Speakman, DC Speakman's father, gave a moving speech which was relayed by loudspeaker to those who could not fit in the church.
He said: "Words can't express how I feel about the Jonny-shaped hole in my heart that I know can never be filled. "We were so lucky to have him, even if it was just for a short time.
"He gave his life to save others and to me is a true hero."
The police officer (right), who had recently become a detective in Warrington, died after giving up his board to push a young boy to safety off Spoon Beach, north of Sydney at the end of January.
Three children and a friend also caught in the tide were rescued but DC Speakman's body was recovered from the water some time later.
He was given full honours by Cheshire Police and the procession was led to the church from DC Speakman's home in Hoole by four police motorcycle outriders and followed by a police traffic car.
An honour guard of 68 officers lined the path up to the church while six friends carried his coffin.
They were led by his nephew, Jake Speakman, 11, who carried his uncle's police helmet as the song Yellow by Coldplay was played over loudspeakers.
Hymns during the service included Love Divine, All Loves Excelling and Jerusalem, and there was a reading from Canon Henry Scott Holland, chosen by DC Speakman's wife Jennie and read by Alex Rowland.
The service ended with the songs No One But You by Queen and Only The Good Die Young by Brian May, before the funeral procession went on to Blacon Crematorium for a private service.
Two coaches carried officers from Warrington where DC Speakman had been based, while many mourners lined the roads of the small village as the procession left the church.
There were flowers from the family only, except for a wreath from Cheshire Police, and all donations in lieu of flowers will go to the Jonny Speakman Forget-Me-Not fund for leukaemia research in memory of his mother, Dorothy, who died from the illness in 1995.
Donations made in the church will be forwarded to the Australian Surf Rescue charity.