Friday, October 16, 2009

Elton Invited to Stephen Gately's Funeral

It will be the most emotional gig of Boyzone’s career and – with one missing voice – its saddest.

Among the musical tributes at Stephen Gately’s funeral tomorrow will be a song by the four remaining group members.

After talking it over with his family the lads agreed “it is what Stephen would have wanted”, a source confirmed yesterday.

Last night they had yet to decide on the song but will settle that today with the family and Stephen’s partner Andy Cowles.

Boyzone members Ronan Keating, 32, Shane Lynch, 33, Mikey Graham, 37, and Keith Duffy, 35, are also expected to carry the casket, along with two relatives.

Elton John, Andrew Lloyd Webber and the four members of Westlife are expected to join mourners at the service in Dublin. The family’s solicitor Gerard Kean said: “We expect it to be a very musical affair in tribute to his great talent.”

Stephen’s parents Margaret and Martin last night thanked his fans for their support.

They have been inundated with messages and cards from well-wishers.

They couple said: “It's been a great deal of comfort to us through this terrible time. All of your kind thoughts and prayers have helped us get through this horr-endous ordeal.”

Boyzone manager Louis Walsh said: “I think Dublin will come and pour its heart out.

“It’s going to be the best send-off we’ve ever done in Ireland. There’s going to be a lot of crying and great stories. We have to celebrate his life.”

Today Ronan, Shane, Mikey and Keith return to Majorca to pick up their pal’s body and bring it back to his family.

They will fly to Palma on a private jet and might not leave the airport before going back to Dublin, accompanied by Andy and Stephen’s elder sister Michelle.

The body will be driven with a police escort from Dublin airport to a funeral parlour to be prepared by undertakers. It will then go to a chapel of rest near the Gately family home in Dublin’s inner city for a private viewing and mass.

At 7.30pm it will be moved to the nearby St Laurence O’Toole church.

The Boyzone four and some family members will stay with it overnight.

Irish PM Bertie Ahern, who is close to Stephen’s family, is expected to attend the funeral mass at noon tomorrow. It will be followed by a cremation service at Dublin’s Glasnevin crematorium.

It is believed Ronan or Andy, 31, may speak at the service. The family are waiting for Andy to arrive back in Ireland to run the details past him. He was in the Majorca flat the couple shared when Stephen, 33, was found dead by a friend, Georgi Dochev, on Saturday.

A postmortem revealed he died of natural causes – fluid on the lungs consistent with heart failure.

Yesterday Boyzone visited Stephen’s parents before meeting Dublin police to discuss security. Mikey was seen strolling through the small churchyard with officers and the group spoke to Father Declan Blake.

Ronan is said to be “utterly heartbroken”.

Volunteers have been tidying the grounds and preparing the area. Friends and neighbours were making the terraced streets shine for Stephen’s return. Thousands are expected to line the route to pay their respects to the singer.

Councillor Nial Ring said: “When something happens to one of their own, the community spirit comes out.”

The family asked for donations, instead of flowers, to Caudwell Children, a Stokebased charity for whom Stephen was a goodwill ambassador. A spokesman said the star “could never do enough” for them.

- Mirror

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