MORE than 400 people have attended the funeral of Janine Harris who had motor neurone disease - at the church where her marriage was blessed only months ago.

Janine’s husband Steve told mourners at St Aelred’s RC Church in Tang Hall how the 49-year-old mother-of-five had fought her ‘cruel disease’ head on and refused to be beaten.

Steve, of Derwenthorpe, a former kitman for York City Knights rugby league club, said: “Her mental attitude was so great that I said: ‘If you were a bloke, you’d be the greatest rugby player ever’.

“She was the greatest person ever, looking after others before herself even during this illness.”

Steve said there was standing room only for a service packed with ‘laughter, jokes, prayers and hymns’.

He said the Neil Diamond song Sweet Caroline was played as Janine’s coffin was carried into church, with the words changed to Sweet Janine in a specially-recorded version by Patrick McGarry, a friend and singer in the Bogus Brothers band.

In an address read out on Steve’s behalf, Steve said Janine had ‘walked into my life’ at 19.30 on the evening of Sunday December 1, 1996, as he was in town with friends after a York rugby game. He abandoned his friends and went back to her house for supper.

“From that day, I never left her and soon fell in love with her. She was stunning, absolutely stunning and I now look back and I should be so grateful for such a fine person. A daughter, sister, mother, grandma and wife, she excelled in all departments.

“She instantly gave me three beautiful children, along with a couple more as we went about our life.

“She was often poorly and spent many a day in hospital fighting this disease. She was continually knocked down but would get up and fight some more. That’s who Janine was, not letting anybody or anything beat her.

“Once when we thought she was on her last legs, she had friends fly in from Australia; that’s the effect Janine had on everyone.

“The smile, that laugh, will never be forgotten nor will her love for a G+T, which came in very useful when she was diagnosed with the cruel disease MND.

“So you left us at 14.15 on March 22 to go to a better place, holding a very very brave daughter’s hand as you fell asleep, just like when you held hands watching TV together and falling asleep. You will never be forgotten and will be still in our hearts forever.”

Steve said that after the service, the exit music was Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran, the first minute of which summed up Janine, and mourners were transported to a reception at Haxby WMC free of charge by York Pullman bus company. He said the collection raised £1,820 for St Leonard’s Hospice, where Janine repeatedly received excellent respite care.