Willie Thorne laid to rest with Snooker Loopy playing as pals pack Spanish funeral

June 24, 2020
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Willie Thorne was laid to rest on Wednesday to the strains of his wacky pop hit Snooker Loopy.

Fellow cueman John Virgo, 74, read a eulogy as 100 friends and family gathered in Spain to pay their respects to the star who died of sepsis last week aged 66.

The former world No7 – who had been battling leukaemia – was also one of snooker's best-loved commentators and starred in Strictly Come Dancing.

But he was propelled to stardom by his appearance in Chas & Dave's 1986 comedy smash about the game which shot to No6 in the charts.

As well as singing on the hit the balding cuemaster was the butt of one of the funniest lyrics which read: “Old Willie Thorne, his hair's all gawn (corr).”

And the song took centre stage again yesterday when it brought to a close Willie's funeral near the Spanish resort of Alicante where he was living when he fell ill.

The coffin of snooker legend Willie Thorne, leaves the memorial service, at the Cristo Resucitado Ecumenical Centre in Orihuela, near Torrevieja Spain.

**I GOT PERMISSION FOR FLORAL TRIBUTES INSIDE CHURCH FROM FLORIST AND PRIEST - BY DID NO RECEIVE ANY PERMISSION FROM FAMILY AS THEY HADN'T ARRIVED YET - CHECK LEGAL** Floral tributes at the memorial service of Leicester snooker legend Willie Thorne, at the Cristo Resucitado Ecumenical Centre in Orihuela, near Torrevieja Spain.

His coffin bore a mini snooker table complete with a pair of cues and the number 147 – the number of points he notched up when making countless maximum breaks.

The sport's governing body sent a message saying `the great WT' had a `presence in a room like no other'.

“You will be sadly missed,” they said.

“With enormous thanks for the years, months, days, hours and every minute spent with us.”

The service was allowed to go ahead after Spain lifted Covid-19 restrictions at the weekend allowing gatherings of up to 100.

Willie Thorne's sons Kieran (far left), Tristan (far right) and daughter Tahli (2nd from right) were pictured leaving the service

The Order of Service for snooker legend Willie Thorne at the memorial service

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Among the congregation – many of whom wore black face masks – were Willie's daughter Tahli (corr), 32, and twin sons Tristan and Kieran, 35, who had flown in from Britain.

Willie's carer Julie O'Neill, 38, who helped crowdfund the cash-strapped star's treatment, said the service was `lovely'.

“Everyone did him really proud. The flowers are amazing,” she added.

Following his death Match Of The Day host and former England striker Gary Lineker – who like Willie hailed from Leicester - wrote: "A marvellous snooker player and a lovely man who’s potted his final black much too soon.”

Snooker legend Willie Thorne was a popular player in his day

Snooker legend John Virgo also read out a eulogy

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Willie's estranged wife – former Miss Great Britain Jill Saxby – told earlier how they `still loved each other' despite splitting seven months before his death.

She said the texted or called each other `every other day' even though she ended their 16-year marriage in November (2019) after Willie admitted his gambling addiction had cost him £1million and left him bankrupt.

Jill, 61, said: "We still loved each other. We texted or spoke to each other every day – particularly when he became poorly.

“Despite the turmoil we loved each other very much for 24 years. It is so sad. But now he can rest in peace.”

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