A FUNERAL was held for the very first time at Solihull Arts Complex last month.
Over 300 friends and family turned out to honour the life of Shirley man Ian Edwards.
The popular 29-year-old had died following a battle with T Form Lymphoma - a type of blood cancer.
Now his parents, John and Carol, have set up a charitable trust to help organise short breaks for other families affected by the illness.
John, aged 64, said that the family had decided to hold the funeral at the theatre following a flood of tributes online.
“A couple of Ian’s friends had posted things on the internet and so many people responded,” he said.
“We knew we needed a big venue so that as many as possible could come and the Arts Complex seats over 300.
“We’re none of us religious but it was a chance to have a humanist celebration of Ian’s life.”
Theatre manager Lawrence Smith had to make sure that holding the event at the venue wouldn’t fall foul of by-laws.
Checks were made about getting the coffin into the venue and having it on stage.
Once these had been carried out, the funeral went ahead, followed by a private cremation at Robin Hood.
“Blood cancer treatment can be gruelling, with lengthy spells in hospital,” said John.
“What made it bearable is that we started to have little trips around the country in between the chemotherapy.
“Luckily we had savings to do this at the drop of a hat and they were a great source of comfort.
“But some families wouldn’t be able to afford it, so we decided to set up a trust and raise money to help.”
Cheques for the Ian Edwards Cancer Break Trust can be sent to 157, Welford Road, B90 3HT.