‘Every tear I cry, you are there’ – family’s moving tributes to tragic teen

The funeral of Tavis Spencer Aitkens in Ipswich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The funeral of Tavis Spencer Aitkens in Ipswich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Draped in the Jamaican flag and carried by eight friends, Tavis Spencer-Aitkens’ coffin entered the church in which he and his twin brother were baptised.

Around 800 people attended the funeral Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Around 800 people attended the funeral Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

A congregation of almost 800 spilled from St Augustine’s Church, where mourners heard how much the tragic teen looked forward to his 18th birthday on the Caribbean island before starting to train as a mechanic.

An emotional service inspired as much grief and tears as it did laughter, singing and dancing in memory of a “funny, truly caring” young man, whose death brought a community together in the saddest of circumstances.

Read by Rev Trevor Golding, a eulogy from Sharon Box entreated those gathered to love each other as she loved her son.

“When I look up at the beautiful sky, you are there,” she said.

The order of service for the funeral of stabbing victim Tavis Spencer-Aitkens at St Augustine's Chur

The order of service for the funeral of stabbing victim Tavis Spencer-Aitkens at St Augustine's Church, Ipswich. Picture: JOE GIDDENS/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

“Every tree that blows in the wind, you are there. Every drop of rain, you are there. And every tear I cry, you are there.”

Racked with sorrow at saying goodbye to his son, Neville Aitkens first thanked the town for its outpouring of support and said: “Tavis was a true carer.

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“I’ll hold his memories forever.

“I feel broken hearted that I won’t see him start work, get married and have children.

The funeral of Tavis Aitkens. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The funeral of Tavis Aitkens. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

“Tavis was me; I was Tavis. He was my double – my mini-me.”

A moving video montage of photographs was accompanied by Ramz’ track Family Tree and ended with images of countless tributes left near the scene of the tragedy, and a message reading ‘Hold onto life, not a knife’.

The mood turned to joy as people rose to sing, clap and dance along to Rivers of Babylon.

A poem was read by Tavis’ tearful cousin Janaya McLennan, closing with spiritual leader Sri Chinmoy’s quote: “Death is the road; Life is the traveller; The soul is the guide”.

Arrival of the cortege at the church. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Arrival of the cortege at the church. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Girlfriend Shannon Green’s tribute recalled happy memories and said: “It never occurred to me how much I could lose until the day I lost Tavis – my best friend, my soulmate, the person I had wished to spend the rest of my life with.”

A visiting pastor from the Greater Union Baptist Church, in Austin, Texas, echoed the collective sentiment of those gathered, saying: “Tavis has gone home. We are not here to stay, but while we’re here, we can stay closer, and when this day is over, keep watch over each other.

“That’s what Tavis would have wanted.”

Mourners at the funeral of Tavis Spencer Aitkens Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Mourners at the funeral of Tavis Spencer Aitkens Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The funeral of Tavis Spencer Aitkens in Ipswich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

The funeral of Tavis Spencer Aitkens in Ipswich. Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan

Mourners arriving at the church Picture: SONYA DUNCAN

Mourners arriving at the church Picture: SONYA DUNCAN - Credit: Sonya Duncan