DOZENS of fans lined the entrance to the Crematorium yesterday (Thursday) to pay their last respects to Speedway legend Lee “Rico” Richardson at an emotional but colourful service.
The star’s family travelled from Lee’s home in Eisenhower Drive, St Leonards to the crematorium in a funeral convoy led by a truck pulling a trailer with his number five race bike.
The hearse had a white floral tribute inside spelling ‘Dad’ while its roof was adorned in floral tributes and a Union Jack flag was wrapped around the coffin.
Upon arrival it was greeted by fans who had travelled from across the country lining the main drive to the building.
Many stood in their #Rico t-shirts braving the driving wind and rain.
The clapped and cheered as the hearse drove through the gates to their hero’s final destination.
Coffin bearers wearing #Rico t-shirts took the casket inside for what was described as a ‘humanist service.’
The music of Robert Miles’ track Children played as up to 300 family, friends and fans tried to get into the building.
Many fans had to stand and listen outside as the family had organised an outside broadcast.
Women, children and men shed tears as they listened to the family’s tributes.
Lee’s brave mother Julie Bowles read out a letter. Fighting back the tears and straining with emotion, she said: “This is the hardest letter I have ever written.
“As your mum I will continue to love you.
“The memories I have will stay with me forever.
“I’m glad we went on a recent holiday to Eygpt. I am so grateful for my two sons and my wonderful grandsons.
“I see you in them every day. I will miss you rolling up outside the house for a cup of tea and a chat about how we were going to put the world to rights.
“I will miss the way you pulled up outside on the stones just to annoy Bob.
“I will never understand why you were taken from us so young. God bless my wonderful son.”
A letter was read out from Lee’s eldest son Josh, aged nine. It read: “Thank you for everything you did for us. You were the coolest Dad we could have in the world.
“You will always be in our hearts and you will be with us loving us. Forever Rico.”
A final letter was read out on behalf of Lee’s wife Gemma. It read: “My childhood sweetheart. My morning light, my goodnight kiss.
“I will miss your big blue eyes. My loving husband and a wonderful father. Saying goodbye is hard to do.
“Shine bright my love. I just wish that we could have had longer.”
A song by Celine Dion, My Heart Will Go On, was then played. Then everyone present was allowed into the building to touch the coffin and say their last goodbye to the Gladiator soundtrack Honour Him.
After the hour-long service family, friends and family travelled to Arlington Stadium at Hailsham for a special memorial event to Lee.