THE funeral of Gary Windle, who died in a treacherous blizzard, took place yesterday - with a letter from Sir Alex Ferguson among the condolences.

More than 200 packed into St John’s Church, Worsthorne, to pay their last respects.

The 25-year-old died in the early hours of Sunday March 24 after he became stranded in huge snow drifts within half a mile of his home in Shay Lane, Briercliffe, following a night out with friends.

His coffin was carried into church to the 1998 song Iris, by the Goo Goo Dolls.

Speaking in tribute to his friend of 20 years, Gareth Smith said: “He was one in a million, so unique, so special, that the world wasn’t big enough for two of them.

“We should not remember how he died but we should remember how he lived.”

The hymns sung during the service were Morning Has Broken and Jerusalem. There was also a moment of reflection during the service for Gary’s life, with the Oasis song Little by Litte played, chosen by his brother Lee.

During the service Father Keith Hensall said: “He was known to a lot of you as Gary, to some as Gaz, to others as legend.

“He was, I’m told, a bundle of energy, the life and soul of the party, at least that was one side of him. The other side, his homely side, he was really quite quiet and he enjoyed nothing more than lying on the sofa with his family and watching TV.

“When anyone asked him how he was he wouldn’t say ok or fine, he would answer ‘smooth’. He had a wonderful ability to make people laugh and smile.

“He enjoyed golf, but I’m told he was better at crazy golf than he was on the golf course, but he did have some famous moments.

“He worked at Tesco and he enjoyed his job, it tickled his sense of humour to be the click and collect man.”

Among the tributes to Gary at church was a letter sent to his family by the Manchester United boss, which was read out by Father Henshall.

“The pain of losing someone dear to you is hard but the one thing that cannot be taken away from you is the wonderful memories that you will have of your time together.

“I know that words seem of little help, but trust that these words of comfort and the knowledge that you are in our thoughts and prayers will help sustain you in your sorrow," wrote Sir Alex.

Following the service Gary was buried in the graveyard at St John’s.