The family of a 32-year-old who killed himself want to thank the people of Eastwood for their ‘enormous amount of support’.
After Benjamin Reeve jumped off a bridge on the A610 local people raised £11,000 to pay for the funeral and turned out in force on the day.
Benjamin had over 300 friends walking behind his hurse as it passed through Eastwood, and 800 people turned up to his funeral.
His aunty Mandy Mitchell said: “It was huge. Just massive. And we can’t thank the local people enough for what they have done.
“The whole of the Eastwood community came together for the entire thing.”
Mrs Mitchell said it was like a ‘mafia’ funeral and Benjamin was ‘treated like royalty’.
“The whole town came to a standstill. Everybody was out and everyone stopped.
“Everybody closed their shop doors an waited outside for the procession to go by.
“Even at Hilltop everybody was outside. And the same all the way along Greenhills Road right up to the church.
“It was hauntingly amazing what everybody did.
“It was like a mafia funeral.
“It was almost like he was royalty. Because he was so loved and respected, and well liked.”
Mrs Mitchell said the funeral was that big they had to install speakers outside the church.
“There were seven Rolls Royces following the hurse. Silver was his favourite colour and we wanted him to go out like a king.
“800 people came to the funeral and when we got to the church we had to have speakers outside.
“Everybody took part. Everyone had a part to play.
“We just want to thank everyone for what they did. It was just amazing. Outstanding.”
Benjamin, who was a labourer, had recently struggled with depression and jumped off a bridge on the A610 back on May 8. His funeral was in June.
Described as a ‘gentle giant’, he was Eastwood born and bred and lived in Walker Street.
“He was so well known in the community. Everyone knew him and everyone loved him.
“He was such a large character and such a beautiuful peson inside and out,” said Mrs Mitchell.
“He had a huge circle of friends and was loved by everybody.
“He was always so happy,” she said.
In the lead up to his funeral, Benjamin’s friends hosted a huge memorial day, set up a justgiving page, and the boxing club he was part of held several sponsored matches to raise money.
Benjamin’s best friends, Matt and Emma Hind, organised the memorial day at Eastwood Football Club, and it attracted 400 people.
There was everything from a disco to pony rides for the kids. A minute silence was held and 200 balloons were released in Benjamin’s memory.
“They wanted the whole community to come together and wanted to do something for his mum so she didn’t have the stress of it,” said Mrs Mitchell
Benjamin was a member of the Booyar Boxing Club in Eastwood, which had several sponsored boxing matches to raise money for the funeral, and have since said they are going to continue raising money for his family.
“He was so loved that everyone wants to look after his mum and brother as well.
“They have a memorial belt that they are going to fight for once a year and they’ve had a memorial plaque put up. They’re also raising awareness of mental health as well so a lot of good has come out of this sadness.”
Every shop from Eastwood to Ilkeston had a collection tin raising money and there was money left over after paying for the funeral, which meant Benjamin’s mum and brother could have his fingerprint put in a locket.
Benjamin’s mum, Cindy Hallsworth, has had to move away from Eastwood since her son’s death because the memories are too raw.
She has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder resulting from his death and has just spent five weeks in hospital.
“It has just caused devastation through the family to be honest. We are just pulling together to get through each day,” she said.
Cindy had Benjamin’s wreath made into a giant pod with three peas in it to represent him, her and his brother Lee.
“He always said we were three peas in a pod. It meant a lot to him – the connection that we had,” she said.
Benjamin leaves behind his dad Tony Reeve, his brother Lee Reeve and four grandparents, who he was dearly close to.
The justgiving page was set up by Kelly and Simon Roberts.
Benjamin’s grave is now full of sunflowers and is adorned with lights so it is lit up in the evening.
Cindy said: “He always used to say he was climbing Jack and the Beanstalk, and it was a big sunflower, so we connected that to his smile. Everybody has put a sunflower on his grave and that’s his smiling face.
“We also lit his grave up because he lit everybody else’s life up, and I don’t want him to be in the dark at night.”
Cindy said she could not thnak people enough for what they had done.
“I just want to thank people from the bottom of my heart.”
“It was like they had paid for his new home in heaven.”