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World snooker champions attend funeral of Dagenham teenage prodigy

PUBLISHED: 15:14 22 December 2015 | UPDATED: 07:52 23 December 2015

Snooker player Billy O'Connor's coffin is carried out by a group of pallbearers including five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan

Snooker player Billy O'Connor's coffin is carried out by a group of pallbearers including five-time world snooker champion Ronnie O'Sullivan

Archant

Snooker world champions were among those who celebrated the life of teen prodigy Billy O’Connor at a packed funeral service this morning.

Snooker player Billy O'Connor's coffin is carried out by a group of pallbearers including current world snooker champion Stuart BinghamSnooker player Billy O'Connor's coffin is carried out by a group of pallbearers including current world snooker champion Stuart Bingham

Ronnie O’Sullivan and current world title-holder Stuart Bingham were among the pall-bearers for the 18-year-old who lost his three-year battle with cancer earlier this month.

Billy, who lived in Ivyhouse Road, Dagenham, captained England’s under-16 snooker team before he was diagnosed with a germ cell tumour aged 15.

Chas and Dave’s Snooker Loopy welcomed everyone in to Holy Family Church, in Oxlow Lane, Dagenham, ahead of the service. So many people wanted to attend that there weren’t enough seats.

A moving tribute, which was read out on behalf of Billy’s parents, Debbie and Barry, said: “We have had 18 wonderful years with the most amazing, caring, inspirational son we could have ever hoped to have.

The funeral procession heads towards Eastbrookend CemeteryThe funeral procession heads towards Eastbrookend Cemetery

“He never got down, was always smiling and helped others whenever he could.”

They added: “We wish we had more time with you but you were just too good for this world.

“Until we meet again, our darling Billy.”

Despite his illness, the former All Saints School pupil spent his final years raising cash for the Teenage Cancer Trust – raising more than £11,000 with a 24-hour snooker tournament in August last year – and a collection was held for the charity which meant so much to him.

All Saints headteacher Kevin Wilson could not speak too highly of his former pupil.

“He was never self-pitying, always resilient and not scared of anything – Billy came in positive to the very end,” he said.

“He was a credit to everyone that knew him.

“We were all aware of his sensational ability at snooker but you’d never have known it because Billy never came in and bragged about it.

“He was just this normal boy, and determined to be this normal boy.”

Billy was laid to rest at Eastbrookend Cemetery following the service.

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