The family of six-year-old Lucas Dobson has thanked all those involved in the search for their “beautiful little boy” at his funeral service.
Lucas died after falling into the River Stour in Sandwich, Kent, in August, while on a fishing trip with his family.
Nearly 500 mourners attended his funeral service at St George’s Church in Deal, Kent, on what would have been his seventh birthday.
Guests arrived at the church wearing red in support of Lucas – some had also dyed their hair.
His father, Nathan Dobson, delivered an emotional eulogy, saying: “You were my strength when I was weak.
“You were the light that shined in the dark. I’m sorry you had to leave so soon.”
The Rev Peter Ould conducted the service, addressing the packed church.
He paid tribute to the “ordinary people” who did so much to help with the search.
He said: “As a community was united in their search for Lucas and then their grief for his loss, we shared our love for each other again and again and again.
“Our love for Nathan and Kirsty and their families – Nathan, I will never forget your courage as you stood in front of hundreds of people and thanked them for their support, Kirsty your love as you went to social media to pour out your heart.
“Lucas was lucky, is lucky, to have parents like you.”
Members of the emergency services joined Lucas’ family and friends at the church, and were honoured with a standing ovation.
A family statement said: “Kirsty, Nathan and all the members of Lucas’ family want to thank everyone who has come today to pay their respects to our beautiful little boy.
“We are very grateful to all the members of the emergency services, and to everyone who came to support us in the search for him.
“This is a very sad day for us, and we are grateful for the space to celebrate his life, and grieve our deep loss.”
Much of the service centred around the song 21 Seconds by So Solid Crew, which Mr Ould said Lucas had loved dancing to.
Organisers estimated that 460 people attended the church, with many standing outside as the seats were full.
Rob Hackett, head teacher at Warden House Primary School which Lucas attended, paid tribute to him at the service.
He said: “There are not many pupils deserving of the term model student but Lucas was just that.
“His all-too-short time at Warden House has left a lasting impact on the lives of those who knew him.”