Tom Bell murder: Donations help make sure Doncaster boxer is ‘given the send-off he deserves’
Thousands of donations helped to make sure a promising Doncaster boxer killed in a shooting in a pub was given a fitting send-off at his funeral.
Hundreds of mourners turned out for the funeral of Tom Bell on Monday, who was killed in a shooting in The Maple Tree pub in Balby on January 17.
A cortege of four flat-bed vans carrying poignant floral displays followed the horse-drawn carriage as it made its way to St Peter's in Chains Church in the town centre.
As the procession approached the junction of Chequer Road and College Road, Tom's relatives and mourners, some of whom wore blue T-shirts with the slogan 'legends never die', followed on foot.
They were followed by the vans – one of which was filled with flowers and a picture of Tom, another with the message 'pain is temporary, pride is forever’, a third had flowers which spelt out: ‘Champ brother’ and carried a mini boxing ring while a fourth also had flowers which said: ‘Our kid’.
Family and friends walked behind the carriage hand-in-hand as around 500 mourners gathered to pay their respects to Tom, who would have celebrated his 22nd birthday the day before.
A night of boxing at Doncaster Dome on Friday, organised by his former coach Jimmy Harrington, raised around £11,500 for the funeral.
In a statement, Tom’s dad Tony said: “My heart is broken and has been ripped apart. Not only have I lost my youngest son, I have lost a friend. I will miss him always and forever.
“I wish to thank the community sincerely for all their support and donations. You have made an extremley difficult day slightly easier, all your contributions have paid for Tom’s funeral and the money raised that is left will go back into the boxing community to help upcoming boxers like my son. It was what Tom would have wanted.”
Tom's mum Tracy also thanked those who donate dmoney to help with funeral costs, adding it meant her ‘blue-eyed boy could have the send off he deserves’.
She also thanked Mandy Hackett, who was working in the Maple Tree pub on the night and performed CPR on Tom after he had been shot through the pub window.
Tracy added: “I’ll never have the chance to be a nanna to his children but his life was wonderful and he lives on in my heart forever."
Tom’s carriage was carried by four horses and the service was followed by a burial at Hatfield, where doves were released at his graveside.
It was standing room only outside the church as crowds turn out to pay their respects.
In a joint statement, his siblings said: “As Tom’s brothers and sisters who share a strong bond and connection, Tom will always be with us in this world or the next.
“Individually, our lives have been broken and there will forever be an emptiness we cannot explain. It is overwhelming to see how much the community loved our brother.
“Tom had the biggest heart along with the biggest smile and was genuinely loved by everybody.
“We love you so much Tom, our champ – forever.”
Two men – Joseph Bennia, 28 and Scott Geoffrey Gocoul, 29, both of no fixed abode – have been charged with Tom’s murder and remanded in custody with a trial date set for Wednesday, May 1.
Seven others have been arrested in connection with the death, with the latest suspect – a 33-year-old man – arrested on suspicion of supplying a firearm.
The other six suspects were arrested on suspicion of assisting an offender and were later released as enquiries continue.
Anyone with information should call South Yorkshire Police on 101, quoting incident number 796 of January 17 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.