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First funeral of UK MH17 victims takes place

The first funeral for the UK victims who died on board Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 is taking place today.

Hundreds gathered to pay their respects to Newcastle United fan Liam Sweeney, 28, who was on his way to see his beloved team play when he died.

Liam's father Barry said the service will be a celebration of Liam's life rather than concentrating on his death.

Ten Britons died on the plane which is believed to have been shot down over Ukraine on July 17.

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MH17 victim Liam Sweeney 'never stopped smiling'

MH17 victim Liam Sweeney was a "gentle giant who never had a smile off his face," hundreds of mourners gathered at his funeral heard.

Liam Sweeney was one of 10 Britons who died when flight MH17 went down in Ukraine. Credit: Family Handout/PA

Mr Sweeney was on his way to watch his beloved Newcastle United play in New Zealand when he died. A Newcastle United scarf and shirt was placed on his coffin as a sign of his commitment to the team.

Newcastle manager Alan Pardew and the team's captain Fabricio Coloccini turned out to pay their respects.

Newcastle United captain Fabricio Coloccini, Newcastle United assistant manager John Carver, Newcastle United managing director Lee Charnley and manager Alan Pardew Credit: PA
They were seen comforting the Sweeney family including Liam's father Barry (second left) and mother Angela (right). Credit: PA

A tearful rendition of a poem was read out in the cathedral, which included the words: "If the Toon were playing you were there, win or lose through bad and good, Newcastle United were in your blood."

Photographs of Liam Sweeney as a boy adorned the order of service. Credit: PA

Malaysia Airlines, who owned the plane Liam died on, also sent a floral tribute to the funeral which read "with our heartfelt condolences".

The tribute sent by Malaysia Airlines. Credit: PA

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