HUNDREDS of mourners packed out a Darwen church to pay their respects to ‘a beautiful young lady’.

Family and friends attended St Joseph's for the funeral of sports-loving Tiana Thompson, 20, who died on January 18 after a year-long battle with Crohn’s disease.

Father Brian Kealey described her death as tragedy.

He said: “She had the love and respect of a great many friends. She had a family that supported her in all she did.

“She had interests and passions that gave her life meaning and vitality.

“From all of this to be struck down by an illness that broke through all the care and science available, is truly a disaster.”

The former St Bede's High School, Blackburn, pupil collapsed two days after Christmas Day and was taken to hospital. Her condition deteriorated and she suffered a blood clot on the brain.

She went to Royal Preston Hospital for an operation but died.

Tiana was a Blackburn Rovers fan and went with her dad and grandad.

Her favourite club was close to the family’s hearts as during the prayers it was said that it was hoped that ‘Tiana joins all her friends on earth in praying that Blackburn Rovers reach the promised land.”

Fr Kealey added: “The scourge of Crohn’s disease did eventually destroy the body of this brave young women, but it did not defeat her.

“This is not the funeral of one who has been defeated. This life may well have been short, but it was quite obviously victorious.

“Look at the love. This life was victorious. For Tiana the battle is now complete. The race is run.

“Those of you who loved Tiana must now pay one of the prices of love. Those of you who called Tiana a friend must now deal with the pain of loss.

“To be triumphant now you must learn from this parting.

“Those like Tiana who have had the courage to face a scourge such as Crohn’s disease have not given up when there was pain, and disappointment, and loss.”

He added: “Live your life to the full. Do not be defeated. Win the game of life, with love.

“And pay tribute to the young woman whose funeral we celebrate today.”

Among the hymns played during the emotional service were I Watch The Sunrise, Make Me A Channel Of Your Peace, As I Kneel Before You and I The Lord Of Sea And Sky.

Floral tributes came from family and there was a netball vest shaped from flowers from friends.