NO matter what life threw at her, Nadine Blake’s beautiful smile shone brightly.
And that was how she was honoured at her funeral yesterday – with vibrant colours, smiles, and laughter amid the tears.
Her tiny stature belied her big personality and she touched the lives of many hundreds of people in her 18 years.
Nadine, of Calshot Road, Warren Park, lost her battle with cystic fibrosis on March 2 but she made her instructions for her funeral clear – there was to be lots of pink.
More than 250 people attended the funeral at the ancient St Thomas a Becket’s Church in Warblington.
Friends and family lined the country lane leading to the church as the stunning white horse and carriage bearing Nadine’s pink coffin arrived.
Seven limousines were followed by a train of 100 vehicles in the funeral cortege.
Even staff from Havant Borough Council who directed traffic wore pink high-visibility jackets.
At Nadine’s former school, Park Community School, in Middle Park Way, pink ribbons and balloons were tied to the gates.
And hundreds of pupils lined the street wearing pink as the funeral cortege went past.
There was standing room only as loved ones packed the small church.
Nadine’s parents Carl and Becky were joined by their younger children as they said goodbye to their precious daughter who was always full of fun.
Nadine’s favourite song, Starships by Nicki Minaj, was played as her pink coffin was brought into the church.
Celebrant Deborah McGregor spoke on behalf of the family when she said that if Nadine had something to say, they would know about it.
But she was strong, loving and selfless and, no matter what she was going through, she always thought about other people.
Ms McGregor said: ‘Nadine wanted her mum and dad and little sisters taken care of.
‘She was, quite simply, an inspiration.’
Ms McGregor then read out a tribute from Carl.
It said: ‘Nadine was a beautiful baby, a mischievous toddler, and always made us smile.
‘We soon found out she was very outspoken.
‘She was wise beyond her years and kept us on our toes.
‘I will miss walking in to your room in the morning before going to work to have a chat and give you a kiss.’
He added: ‘Since you have passed we have discovered how much of an inspiration you are, how many hearts you have touched.
‘You were our beautiful daughter. Nadine, we would not have had you any other way.’
Hardly able to stifle their tears, a group of friends addressed the congregation to recall their favourite memories of Nadine.
They remembered her love of dressing up and her constantly changing hair colour, her sense of fun and the smile that never left her face, despite the pain that she went through.
Provoking laughter, they also spoke of her love of Slush Puppie drinks and of regularly being asked to go on a ‘Slush Puppie run’ for her to the shops.
Lauren Cooper, a friend from their days at Warren Park Primary School, spoke of the close bond they had as children, which never waned, even if they didn’t see each other for a while.
Lauren read out a Christmas card that Nadine sent her last year in which she vowed they would be best friends until the day she died.
Lauren said: ‘But that’s not true, we will be friends even now you are gone.’
Nadine’s uncle Darren Blake said a few words about his beloved niece.
‘Nadine was a unique, beautiful young lady, an inspiration to us all.
‘Your smile brightened up the dullest day.’
Among the hundreds of people crammed into the church were nurses from Southampton General Hospital’s adult cystic fibrosis ward where Nadine spent so much time being treated for the illness.
They offered the teenager and her family endless support.
Many of her friends copied Nadine’s glamorous signature style, wearing fashionable colourful outfits with perfectly styled hair and make-up to the funeral.
Some even wore hot pink wigs.
The poignant lyrics of Beyonce’s I Was Here struck a chord with many and it was followed by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s moving version of Somewhere over the Rainbow.
Dozens of stunning floral tributes were laid at Nadine’s graveside in Warblington cemetery as her family said their final goodbyes.
COMMUNITY PAYS TRIBUTE IN PINK
MANY had never met Nadine, but every single person had heard about her bravery.
People of all ages stood together in a united show of pink to pay their respects as the funeral cortege made its way down Middle Park Way and past Park Community School.
Bright pink balloons and ribbon covered the school’s railings, while people wore an item of pink, whether it be a brooch or a tie.
Chris Anders, the headteacher, handed a bouquet of flowers to the man leading the procession of around 100 vehicles.
He respectfully stood in the road as the cortege – which included a horse-drawn white carriage carrying Nadine’s coffin – went past.
Many of the drivers and passengers in the cars, many adorned with pink ribbon, were crying as they made their way to the church in Warblington.
Lisa Byles, 42, from Leigh Park was among the crowd and was wearing a pink brooch and gloves.
She said: ‘I did not know her (Nadine) but it’s such a sad story and it’s touched everyone’s lives.
‘The majority of Leigh Park have turned out because she’s from here and all that she’s done for charity.’
Wearing a pink tie, Nikki Hawes, 15, from Leigh Park, said: ‘She was such an inspiration. She was always smiling and nothing upset her. I just wanted to pay my respects.’
Shannon Mason, 16, added: ‘She was such a happy girl and nothing brought her down.
‘She will be missed round here.’
Sam Clarke, 28, drove from Waterlooville to pay her respects.
She said: ‘Nadine was so brave. I think she’s touched so many people’s hearts.
‘My Facebook was full of people paying their respects this morning.
‘Everyone I know has changed their profile pictures to Nadine for today.’
Pip Kenyon, 17, who attends South Downs College, sat on her moped to watch the procession.
‘I grew up with her,’ she said.
‘I have known her since I was four. She was a lovely girl and didn’t deserve it. I don’t know how she got through it.’
Nickie Pfaff, 47, dyed her hair pink to mark the occasion.
She said: ‘I am always dying my hair and it’s pink today.
‘It feels good seeing all the pink balloons.’
Claire Davies, 33, of Dunsbury Way, Leigh Park, wore a pink rose. She told The News: ‘We want to show that the community is behind them.
‘She was part of our community and it’s a sad loss.
‘We have all had losses ourselves. Nadine’s still doing so much even though she’s gone. She’s raising money for what she believed in.’
After the procession Mr Anders said: ‘What we have seen as the cortege passed the school with the students and so many members of the local community is what an inspiration Nadine was and has become.
‘Not only for young people but adults as well in the school.
‘We had 10 minutes, maybe a bit more, of silence, and cars stopped coming in the other direction.
‘I think it shows how people wanted to show their respects.’
THOUSANDS RAISED FOR HOSPITAL WARD IN NADINE’S MEMORY
SINCE Nadine Blake’s death thousands of pounds has been raised in her memory for the adults’ Cystic Fibrosis Ward at Southampton General Hospital.
Last Sunday her hairdresser Amber Tee, from Zoom Hairdressing, donated her time to cut people’s hair in an all-day event which raised £1,250 for the ward.
And many of the people at yesterday’s funeral wore pink corsages made by friends Emily Carpenter and Lauren Cooper.
They worked round the clock to create the stunning corsages which many ladies wore in their hair.
More than 500 were sold for £3 each, and many were bought by strangers who did not know Nadine but wanted to donate in her memory.
There are more events planned for the future.
To make a donation go to justgiving.com/cysticfibrosisadultward