OVER 100 firefighters from across Lancashire and Greater Manchester paid tribute to tragic bridegroom-to-be Paul Cross who was killed in a horrific motorway crash.
The chapel at Accrington Crematorium was overflowing with family, friends and colleagues mourning the loss of the young dad who died in the motorbike smash while his fiancee, Dionne McKinlay, went for a final fitting for her wedding dress.
The service was a fitting tribute to fireman Paul, 31, of Bertha Street, Accrington, whose life was cut short in the accident a fortnight ago.
He was on his way to work at Blackley Fire Station in Manchester when the crash happened.
His coffin, carried by firefighters from Red Watch, was draped in a Union Jack flag, with Paul's yellow helmet resting on top.
A sea of mourners gathered at the service which was conducted by fire service chaplain, Major Nigel Tansey.
Paul's father Glen paid an emotional tribute to his "beloved'' son, saying: "He was not just a son and a drinking partner, he was also a best friend.
"Paul had such a big personality and his life was given a new purpose when he met Dionne, the love of his life, and especially when they had their son Ethan."
The song Show Me by Accrington-born Jon Ander-son from Yes was played to the tearful mourners.
Paul and Dionne, 28, were due to marry on 17 September.
In a heartfelt tribute, read out by Mr Tansey, Dionne wrote: "This is for all the love we gave to each other, all the kisses and tender moments we shared and all the support you have given me.
"This is for all the personal sacrifices you made for me, and this is to remind you that I will always love you."
Neil Gallowship told the congregation what a passionate person Paul was, how he was proud to be his best friend and how three-year-old Ethan was his pride and joy.
He said: "Paul was full of determination and ambition and achieved so much in his life.
"He was a great laugh and I loved being with him. You never knew what you were going to get next."
Paul's brother, Lee, and his ex-station officer at Blackley Fire Station, Tony, also read out their own touching tributes expressing how sorely Paul will be missed by everyone.
Offering his own sympathy, Major Tansey said it was good to see the touching smiles as mourners remembered Paul.
The service ended with an uplifting and appropriate song, Fire Brigade, chosen by Dionne's father, Don, before pink lilies and a claret and blue floral tribute showing Paul's support for Burnley FC, were placed outside.
More than £500 donated by mourners is to be given to Booth Hall Children's Hosp-ital, Manchester, in memory of Paul.