FAMILY and friends of inspirational paralympic hopeful Shane Hartop packed St Mary’s Church at Marlborough for his funeral.

The 25-year-old, who was on track to compete in the 2020 games, was given an amazing send off, said his mother Sharon.

She paid tribute to supporters who helped his family raise money for the service on Wednesday last week, following his death in May.

She said later: “There were lots of family and friends and a lot of his friends wore Leicester tops for him. He was well loved.”

She said it wasn’t until they left the church that his family realised just how many people had turned up to say farewell to the young man who lived 15 years longer than doctors had predicted.

“We didn’t even see them at first. Going into the church you focus on the coffin. It wasn’t until we got outside and saw them lined up in the road that we saw how many there were.

“It was just the overwhelming love that everyone had for him. That was amazing.”

Among the mourners were two of his former head teachers, old school friends and team mates. Shane, of Five Stiles Road, had battled with spinal muscular atrophy all his life and was in a wheelchair from the age of two.

But he had been a rising star in paralympic shooting until bouts of pneumonia stopped him. He transferred his sporting prowess to boccia, won a clutch of national competitions and was aiming for the next games in Japan.

“He did more than a lot of able-bodied 25 year-olds have done,” said Sharon.

Shane was rushed to hospital on May 10 and died three days later in his sleep. Afterwards his family launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise £6,000 so they could give him a fitting service. In just seven days it had raised £2,000 – enough to pay for a coffin in the colours of his beloved football team Leicester City.