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Pictures: Hundreds attend funeral for ‘loved’ West Ham fan in Forest Gate

07:00 05 February 2014

The hearse containing Duncan James

The hearse containing Duncan James' coffin and tributes. Photo credit: David Mirzoeff

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Hundreds of mourners bid farewell to a West Ham fan and “salt of the earth” who has died of lung cancer.

Duncan James died of lung cancer, aged 40Duncan James died of lung cancer, aged 40

Duncan James, 40, a Silvertown locksmith called “the original Black cockney” by his friends, was mourned by 850 people at his funeral in St Anthony’s Church, Forest Gate, last week.

Forty balloons in West Ham claret and blue were released with doves at City Crematorium, Manor Park.

Tributes poured in for the charismatic Duncan, who went to Carpenters Road Primary School, Stratford, with a Facebook page set up by friends receiving messages from 600 members.

Mona James, Duncan’s mother, said she was “overwhelmed beyond belief” at the response to her son’s death.

Mourners arrive at City of London Cemetry and Crematorium.
Photo credit: David MirzoeffMourners arrive at City of London Cemetry and Crematorium. Photo credit: David Mirzoeff

“I have never seen so many men hugging, crying and kissing,” she said. “They all loved him so much.”

“Everyone felt Duncan was their best mate. That was his ability. He always made every person feel like a personal friend.”

Duncan was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer at Whipps Cross Hospital last May. Although he was a smoker, the doctors said the cancer was not smoking-related.

Duncan was able to spend his last Christmas at home with his family, where he was sent a signed football from West Ham Football Club, before returning to St Joseph’s Hospice, Hackney.

Donna Easton, a childhood sweetheart and friend of 20 years, said: “We were all there up until the end. He told us how much he loved us. They were more or less the last things he said.”

She added: “Throughout the whole time he acted with such dignity.

“He never complained once.

“He was able to pass away knowing peace because he knew he was really loved.”

The family made the most of the huge funeral turnout by raising £3,000 for cancer charities.

Ms James said: “I’m very proud.

“The tributes made it a lot more bearable, because it’s so much love for one person.

“He touched the lives of so many people.”

For more pictures click on the gallery on the right.

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