IT was every mother's worst nightmare.

As the horse-drawn hearse approached the church there was silence but for the quiet, desperate sobbing of a mother, Mary Ripley.

For it was the day every parent prays they will never see - their own child's funeral.

On February 17 Jason Peter Ripley from Dalton died after being stabbed during a street fight in Sheepridge.

The 17-year-old England schoolboy boxer was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary but desperate attempts to save his life failed.

Yesterday more than 250 friends and family packed into the English Martyrs Roman Catholic Church, in Grosvenor Road, Dalton, to say one final, heart-breaking goodbye.

At the service the priest, Father Mike Walsh, pleaded with the teenagers who had gathered to pay their respects to their friend to learn from Jason's death.

"When you are young you think you are invincible. You think you will be here forever. Jason's death proves life is fragile," he said.

"The family do not want Jason's death to be in vain. If what has happened here makes just one person stop and think about the way they live their life then his memory will have made a difference."

Fr Walsh spoke about the shock of the whole community when they heard the news of Jason's death - but urged people to remember Jason and the good times they had shared with him.

"I think all of us will remember where we were and what we were doing when Jason lost his life," he said. "This is a very sad day for this whole community. It is especially sad for Jason's parents, Mary and Michael, and his friends and family.

"I know that the family have been incredibly moved by the messages and support they have had.

"When things like this happen we tend to think it just happens to other people - but now we know this is not true.

"There is a mix of emotions here today from anger and regret to great, great sadness. I do not want to be doing this again for any other family."

The service also included readings by Jason's friends and a rap written by his sister, Joanne, and read out by Fr Walsh.

The funeral cortege then moved on to Lockwood cemetery where Jason was laid to rest.

Hundreds surrounded the grave in the warm spring sunshine.

A mountain of flowers with personal messages to the tragic teenager were placed next to the grave.

As Fr Walsh said a few final words the only sound the crowd could hear was the sobbing of Jason's mother.

After the crowds had left, Mrs Ripley said: "The family are comforted and impressed by the number of people who have come to the funeral to pay their respects.

"We are now going to spend some time reflecting."

Jason boxed for England at schoolboy level and was judged to be the second best in the country for his age and weight.

A 16-year-old Bradley youth has appeared in court, accused of murdering Jason. He has been remanded to a young offenders' institution.