Tom Parker funeral: Fans pay tribute to ‘much-loved' The Wanted singer
Fans paid their respects to The Wanted star Tom Parker as they joined his friends and family at his funeral in south-east London.
Hundreds of fans lined the high street of Petts Wood to remember the singer following his death last month at the age of 33, 17 months after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour.
One fan said it was “a real privilege” to be attending the funeral for Parker, with the service being held at St Francis of Assisi church.
Speaking outside the service, Laura Chalk, 24, from Essex, told the PA News Agency: “I still don’t believe that Tom is gone; he has such a special place in my heart.
“Being here is helping me let go a bit, I think it is nice for Kelsey and his kids to see such a crowd of his fans and show how much he meant to the world.
“I was very young and I used to have Top Of The Pops magazine, there was this new band The Wanted and I didn’t really have internet – my parents were quite strict – and I heard All Time Low and from then I have been The Wanted crazy.
“I was too young to afford my own tickets around the time but I saw them for my first and only time in London for their last tour.
“Just a few weeks ago, I was travelling to America the week after so it happened when I was out there and it was just heart-breaking because I didn’t have anyone to comfort me or understand.
“That’s why I’m here today because I missed the vigils.
“The reunion tour was incredible. When he came out I had tears gushing, it was so nice to see them all together and I didn’t even think about how long it would be and I was just living in that moment. It was just the best most incredible night.
“I am a big fan. Honestly it is a real privilege to be here. It is special because I feel like a funeral should be private, immediate family and friends, but I feel The Wanted fans are a family and always have been and I know Tom really loved every single one of his.”
Fans offered their support to Parker’s widow, Kelsey, cheering and clapping as she walked behind the carriage carrying the coffin to the church with family at her side.
Ahead of the cortege, receptionist Chloe Mayne, 25, from Plumstead, and a self-professed “super-fan” of the late singer, said she was 15 when she became a fan of The Wanted and had attended about 25 of the boy band’s concerts, adding: “He was my childhood really.”
Super-fan Stefanie Marek, 29, had flown from Austria on Tuesday to witness the funeral procession.
The IT trainee said fellow fans waiting along the procession route had shared special memories they had of Parker and The Wanted over the years.
“I have come all the way from Austria. I came in from London Gatwick yesterday because I saw the announcement Kelsey made and I saw (Tom) in Nottingham not too long ago and I can’t believe he is gone, so I thought I might as well come out here and pay respects to him and give my condolences.
“I started being a fan when Glad You Came came out because it was on advertisements and TV stations in Austria, and then Chasing The Sun came out in Ice Age 4 and I started to feel like, ‘that’s my band, that’s what my heart belongs to’ and ever since then I looked up to them, I wanted to see them, I became a part of the fan club, being there for the lads and being a family in general.”
Ms Marek added: “The atmosphere at the reunion tour was breath-taking really, we were VIP front row directly in front of them, and I couldn’t pull myself (together) for the last three songs. I cried like a baby because I didn’t expect Tom to come out.
“I knew he was in a bad condition and when he came out for Glad You Came I couldn’t stop crying because it was like we were giving him a good send-off like that, he’s going to make incredible memories and can go in peace.”
Tearing up, The Wanted fan added: “I was expecting to be early and I didn’t expect to be surrounded by so many people, it’s amazing how much of an impact Parker has had.
“It’s amazing to be surrounded by so much love. I hope it’s shows Kelsey and the kids how much he was loved.”
Ahead of the service, a tweet from the verified account of the Brain Tumour Research said: “We are thinking of Tom Parker’s loved ones, his bandmates from @thewanted and his fans on the day of his funeral. We remember Tom for his passion, intelligence & determination in the face of such adversity & will continue to remember him as we campaign for change @Being_Kelsey.”
Parker disclosed in October 2020 that he had been diagnosed with stage four glioblastoma and had begun radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Despite his diagnosis, in the weeks before his death he had performed on stage with his bandmates as part of their much-delayed reunion tour.
Kelsey had previously invited fans to pay their respects outside the private ceremony, with the service shown on screens for those gathered.