BRIGHT blue-eyed, chivalrous, and always determined.
These were words used to describe the late Jackson Byrnes at his funeral this morning at St Mary’s Catholic Church in Casino.
They were memories shared about Jackson of a close friend of the Byrnes family, memories which went back to when he was just five-years old.
Even at such a young age, Linda Duffy said the young Jackson seemed emotionally intelligent beyond his years – always caring and protective of those around him.
“His smile warmed a whole room,” she said.
More than 500 mourners gathered for the funeral service in what felt like an entire community coming together to share their grief for a friend and loved one.
The number of young faces in the congregation was a reminder of a life which was sadly taken too soon.
Leading the service, Father Arthur Stidwill gently reminded the gathering to let their grief “be outweighed” by the knowledge that Jackson’s soul would live on.
A touching poem written by Jackson before he died was addressed to his three siblings and mother.
In it, Jackson urged his two brothers and sister to not let their mother hide her grief over his passing but to open up and let others in.
Jackson’s girlfriend, Jahnae, fought tears as she spoke of how dear Jackson was to her heart.
She said Jackson had the “heart and courage of a lion” and taught her “how unbreakable love could be”.
On Jackson’s coffin, friends and family had written moving final messages to the popular and much-loved young man.
A burial ceremony took place following the funeral service with mourners gathering at Casino cemetery, where doves and balloons were released into the sky.