Sad and poignant farewell to Portsmouth Harbour hero who died saving girls

HERO Marco Araujo in a picture left as a tribute by friends
HERO Marco Araujo in a picture left as a tribute by friends
Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Cllr Ken Ellcome with Jean and Allan Thompson. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

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WITHOUT a thought for himself, Marco Araujo gave his life to save others.

And yesterday close friends and family of the 33-year-old said a sad and poignant farewell to the brave man they loved so much and whose death has left them heartbroken.

Many wore Portuguese football shirts with ‘4 Marco’ on the back to the service at Portchester Crematorium.

The British and Portuguese flags were draped over the coffin as it was taken in to one of Mr Araujo’s favourite songs, Victoria Beckham’s I.O.U.

Mr Araujo was training to be a security guard at the London Olympics when he was tragically killed last month after risking his life to save two young girls who were swept out into Portsmouth Harbour.

He dived in to rescue four-year-old Destiny Butcher, of Landguard Road, Eastney, and a 10-year-old girl, but disappeared beneath the waves.

The selfless act ultimately cost him his life.

The service was led by Rev Paul Miles-Knight, of the Parish of Holy Angels, who opened the ceremony in Portuguese.

It was particularly poignant because his mother Maria and sister Paula, had flown in from the country for the funeral.

They were by the side of Mr Araujo’s long-term partner Tracey Hall.

Fr Paul said: ‘It was an incredibly emotional service and I hope it was a fitting tribute to someone who has given so much.’

The tragedy struck the hearts of readers of The News who generously donated money and services to make sure he got the hero’s funeral he deserved.

Some of that money will go towards paying for Mrs and Miss Araujo’s flights while the rest will go to the RNLI and the Stroke Association.

David Colbourne of Mayfield Funeral Directors organised the entire funeral for free.

He even managed to find a Portuguese speaker to help explain the procedure to Mr Araujo’s mother and sister on Thursday night, when they paid their respects at the funeral home.

Mr Colbourne said: ‘It was very upsetting for the family obviously and very difficult for Marco’s mother as she does not speak English at all. Her daughter speaks very little English.’

He added: ‘We looked after the family as best we could and tried to reassure them that his spirit and soul is still with them.’