PEOPLE gathered to say their last farewell to a young man who loved life and inspired others to do the same.

Robert Errington, of Workington, died at the age of 23. A packed St Michael's Church, in Workington, heard how despite suffering from a rare form of cerebral palsy, Robert managed to light up the lives of those around him.

The Reverend Peter Powell, leading the funeral service on Tuesday, said: "Robert was born at the West Cumberland maternity unit in the summer of 1995. It was apparent from early on he was going to have difficulties. He was diagnosed with a rare form of cerebral palsy and needed 24-hour care, he couldn't walk or talk and learnt to do things very slowly. In spite of this he inspired all those around him, he really connected with people. His face would light up with his wonderful infectious smile."

Mr Powell also spoke of his "flirting" with people - mourners laughed as he recalled Robert fluttering his eyelashes. "He knew what was going on around him," he said.

Robert, who attended Mayfield school in Whitehaven for part of his childhood, was cared for by his family and spent the last six years at Briarfield care home in Stainburn.

Mr Powell said: "Robert's family cared for him throughout his all-too-short life. He loved being with people, especially those he knew. For the last six years he was being looked after at Briarfield, where he was known as 'laal fella'. There he used to tease people by throwing his cloth in hiding places."

Staff at the care home asked for a poem to be read as a tribute to Robert:

Feel no guilt in laughter, he’d know how much you care.

Feel no sorrow in a smile that he is not here to share.

You cannot grieve forever; he would not want you to.

He’d hope that you could carry on the way you always do.

So, talk about the good times and the way you showed you cared,

The days you spent together, all the happiness you shared.

Let memories surround you, a word someone may say

Will suddenly recapture a time, an hour or a day,

That brings him back as clearly as though he were still here,

And fills you with the feeling that he is always near.

For if you keep those moments, you will never be apart

And he will live forever locked safely within your heart.

Mr Powell said Robert defied experts many times and it was his family's sheer love and dedication that helped him through very difficult times.

He said: "He needed specialist treatment to strengthen and balance his muscles. This was expensive and hard to access but West Cumbrians raised very large amounts of money for specialist treatment outside London. People did all sorts for him."

Fundraisers took on challenges from climbing Snowdon in a wheelchair and abseiling down West Cumbria College to having their heads shaved.

Mr Powell said the treatment helped Robert's muscle strength and improved his quality of life.

"He loved light shows, music, projection of stars on walls and ceilings. He loved life and inspired others to do the same," he added.

His coffin was carried out to the song Reach For The Stars by S Club 7.

Robert will be much missed by all his family, including mum Alison Carr, stepdad Paul, brother Daniel, 11, and grandparents Pat and Kenny Wallace.

Donations in his memory can be made to Eden Valley Hospice, where Robert spent time on respite, c/o Co-operative Funeralcare in Workington.