Hundreds of mourners gathered for the funeral of little Lucas Dobson on what would have been his seventh birthday.
Six-year-old Lucas fell into the River Stour in Sandwich, Kent, after trying to leap from a jetty to a boat while on a fishing trip with his dad Nathan.
His father and two adults jumped in to rescue him but could not reach the boy before strong currents swept Lucas away.
But his body was not found until four days later, on August 21.
Lucas’ family thanked the more than 200 people involved in the search for their ‘beautiful little boy’ at the funeral service in St George’s Church, Deal.
Guests arrived wearing Lucas’ favourite colour red, including some who had dyed their hair, as one of his most-loved songs, 21 Seconds by So Solid Crew, played as they entered the church.
Lucas’ body was carried in a red coffin painted in the colours of the Disney movie character Lightning McQueen.
A wreath in the shape of the poignantly simple word ‘son’ was placed on the ground.
Dad Nathan delivered a heartbreaking eulogy, saying: ‘Lucas George Dobson, my son. I just want to say you were more than that.
‘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.
‘I will always be here waiting for you.
‘Goodbye son. I love you today, I love you tomorrow, I love you always and forever. Thank you.’
Lucas’ grandmother Kirsty said he was her ‘little pickle’ who enjoyed a ‘special relationship’ with his dad.
She went on: ‘He had such a talent from riding bikes at such a young age.
‘You are still my perfect little pickle, and you are still Mummy’s prince.
‘Love you forever and always.’
Conducting the service was Reverend Peter Ould who also 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 who attended the funeral 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.’