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Alex 'Hurricane Higgins' remembered

"People's champion" Alex Higgins has been remembered at a service of thanksgiving.

Fellow snooker player and friend Jimmy White led the tributes to "Hurricane" Higgins but was overcome by emotion and needed help reading out his statement.

St Anne's Church of Ireland Cathedral in Belfast was packed with 400 former players, friends and family, with thousands more outside paying their last respects.

Past and present stars of the game including Stephen Hendry, Ken Doherty, Willie Thorne, Shaun Murphy and John Virgo attended.

Higgins, 61, died last month after a long battle with throat cancer and alcohol. He was a twice world champion from Northern Ireland who graced the green baize with flair and talent.

The statement from White said: "He was mind-blowing, he did things I'd never seen before. He was The Hurricane, I will miss him to the end."

Higgins' daughter Lauren added: "A million times I will cry, if love alone could have saved you, you never would have died." His sisters Anne and Jean sat at the front of the cathedral along with Lauren and son Jordan.

Ryan Thomas from Coronation Street, Northern Ireland ministers Nelson McCausland and Arlene Foster, Lord Mayor of Belfast Pat Convery and Olympic champion Dame Mary Peters were among dignitaries at the service.

A tearful White helped carry the coffin of the troubled snooker genius who was found dead in a flat in Belfast last month. A floral tribute outside the church read: "The People's Champion."

Following a funeral in the family home in Roden Street in the south of the city, a cortege led by a horse drawn carriage wound its way through the centre of Belfast. Hundreds who had gathered in the Sandy Row area, where Higgins grew up and died, applauded as the procession passed.

Press Association

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