AMID the peaceful serenity of the South Downs, a young climber was laid to rest today.
More than 150 people gathered at the Natural Burial Site, East Meon, near Petersfield, to say goodbye to Jack Hutton-Potts.
As reported, the 23-year-old, from Petersfield, died last month in a climbing tragedy in Anglesey, Wales.
Fellow climber Vaughan Richard Holme, 48, of Horsham, West Sussex, also died.
Jack’s service was held in the outdoor classroom at the Sustainability Centre where the family had camped overnight and had decorated the classroom with flowers and dozens of pictures of Jack.
A huge kite hung from the rooftop above the congregation.
The service heard how Jack was an exceptionally intelligent young man who was on course to achieve a First Class honours degree in biomedical science from the University of Sussex, in Brighton.
His sister Anna Miller described him as ‘a real-life Avatar’ whose nickname as a youngster was Jack Fact as he had a thirst for knowledge.
She said: ‘It was always us. Never did I imagine we would be in this position. I always thought we would grow old together still comparing sporting injuries and laughing at our parents.’
Reading a tribute written by Jack’s cousin, an author, Anna said: ‘None of us know what happened on the face of that cliff.
‘But we have all been falling since into the gaping hole that Jack’s life has left behind.’
The 30-year-old added: ‘For me, every time I see a bird of prey, I think of Jack.
‘Every time I see an over-sized jar of mayonnaise, I think of Jack.’
His father David Hutton-Potts, from Penn Road, Petersfield, paid tribute to his ‘lovely boy’ and said: ‘We can dream about the future, we can remember the past, but we must live our lives to the full every day.’
Jack’s mother Sara said: ‘He had an insatiable curiosity for life. I can’t remember having to teach you to read. Almost photographically you could remember all the quotes from the Shakespeare plays you read, infuriating for me as an English teacher.’
His grandmother Doreen Ollett said: ‘I remember walking through the woods with all these dinosaurs.
‘Jack knew the name of every one of them.’
She added: ‘Thank you so much for coming.
‘It’s wonderfully heart-warming to know his life touched so many over the years.’
Jack’s girlfriend Kirsty said she did not especially know ‘Jack the climber’ and described him as a sensitive and kind partner.
On the two occasions they did go climbing together, she said: ‘I felt safer with Jack 12 metres below me than I do with most people on the ground.
‘He had the most beautiful smile I have ever seen.’
Friend Tim Gauntlett, who lost his brother Rob in a climbing accident in the Alps in 2009, said: ‘He was there for me at the lowest point in my life.
‘He gave me some of the best memories I have got. I will miss him so much.’
Friends paid emotional tributes to Jack, who was a former pupil at boarding school Christ’s Hospital, near Horsham, where Mr Holme was a teacher.
Family friend Dawn Kelly sang a beautiful song with a guitar, called Whisper Away.
His wicker coffin was carried into the woods and buried amongst the trees.