CROWDS of mourners have united to celebrate the life of much-loved Max Olivares.
The young boy’s funeral took place at The Oaks Crematorium in Havant this morning, after he died in hospital on April 17, aged 16 months.
Max’s parents Hannah Bloomfield and Wayne Olivares spent days at his side at Southampton General Hospital as he fought pulmonary vein stenosis.
But despite repeatedly ‘bouncing back’, the pair said there was eventually ‘no way around’ their little boy’s illness.
Today they joined their closest friends and family in marking his life with a packed out ceremony, which got under way after an emotional horse-drawn procession.
Reflecting on the service, Ms Bloomfield, 24, said: ‘Of course this is a very sad day for us but it has been beautiful – it has gone exactly how we would’ve liked it to.
‘The horse and carriage was stunning, the sun is shining and the turnout has been incredible.’
Among the swathes who attended in a touching gesture of solidarity to Max’s family, were the nurses and carers who played a part in treating and befriending him throughout his short life.
Luke Still, from Southampton General Hospital’s paediatric intensive care unit, said his team forged a ‘special bond’ with Max, after he was admitted to them three months after being born just 2lb 2oz, 27 weeks into pregnancy.
He said: ‘After he came to us, Max was in the hospital for the rest of his time.
‘In that period we built a bond with his family, we built a bond with him and they all now have a special place in our hearts.’
That valuable connection was echoed by Sarah-Jayne Bevis, who as the Ronald McDonald House manager put up Max and his parents for their 13-month stay at hospital.
She said: ‘Hannah, Wayne and Max made a huge impact on everyone they met at the house.
‘Not only did they [Hannah and Wayne] show strength, courage and love for their little boy, they helped so many other families in a similar position settle in.
‘We are privileged to know them and we all wanted to be here to pay our respects.’
As the service culminated in a poignant balloon release – after dozens of flowers were laid atop Max’s casket – his father shared a message of adoration for all those who supported him.
Mr Olivares, 29, said: ‘The good times we shared with Max were very good and the bad times were bad.
‘But from the nurses who looked after him to everyone who followed his story, we are so grateful and it was an honour to you here today.
‘We couldn’t respect you any more than we do.’
Max will now be cremated and buried alongside family at Kingston Cemetery in St Mary’s Road, Stamshaw.