The life of Daniele Polito, one of 11 men killed in the Shoreham air disaster, was celebrated during a touching funeral service this afternoon.
Hundreds of mourners filled the Kingswood Chapel at Worthing Crematorium to pay their respects to the 23-year-old father-of-one.
Everyone stood as Daniele’s coffin, decorated with images of Jelly Beans and Haribo Starmix sweets, was carried into the chapel accompanied by Brahm’s Lullaby.
Father John McCormack told those gathered that he hoped tragedy would be the last word on everyone’s minds, and rather Daniele’s ‘extraordinary’ life was celebrated.
Marina Polito, Daniele’s sister, read the poem Wrong Place Wrong Time, Right Place Right Time. The heartfelt verses, written by Marina, told of her experiences growing up with Daniele and the struggle of trying to come to terms with his death.
This was followed by a note-perfect choral performance of Seasons of Love from the musical Rent and a moving speech from Daniele’s brother Carl.
Addressing the chapel, Carl said: “He loved to entertain people. From a very early age he loved to hang out with my friends, with the big kids. He would dress up, told jokes he thought were funny – that only he thought were funny – and would make ridiculous and stupid faces. After one of our big nights out he would wake us up to this medley of Britney Spears, with the moves. It was amazing and irritating in equal measure. As he grew older he continued to love to sing, joining many different groups. There was a while when he was convinced he was going to be an international rap star...
“What Daniele inarguably loved most in his life were his family and friends. I’m sure he believed his fierce loyalty to his loved ones came from his Italian ancestry, something of which he was extremely proud.
“Impulsive, cheeky, foolish, loyal and loving. A wholly flawed lovely kid. I won’t pretend there have been many positives to come out of the last three weeks but there has been one – I’ve had a chance to get to know my brother all over again, and it’s been a delight.”
Carl told how he was sitting on his sofa in Tokyo when the details of the Shoreham air crash started to filter through onto the news. He said he knew he had to check on his family back home to make sure they were ok, not because he had a sense of foreboding, but because it was a stretch of road they used everyday.
He received a text back about an hour later to say they were watching it on the news like everyone else. It was not until the next morning that he received a called to say Daniele was missing and that he was probably in a car with Matt Jones, a colleague who was thought to be at the scene.
He said the words ‘this is something that’s only supposed to happen to other people’ summed up how the family felt.
Pictures of Daniele, spanning his entire life, were shown on screens in the chapel as Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds played over the top.
After Father John’s blessing, Daniele’s immediate family gathered by his coffin and shared hugs as R Kelly’s I Believe I Can Fly played everyone out.
The disaster also claimed the lives of former Portsmouth University student Jacob Shilt, who played for Worthing United FC, and ex-Hampshire police officer Maurice Abrahams.