TO the strains of You'll Never Walk Alone, Robbie Gee and Paul Barker,

the two Merseyside schoolboys who went on a fishing trip to a local

beauty spot and were later found stabbed to death, were taken to their

final resting places yesterday.

Gerry Marsden, who recorded the Liverpool football song, was among

those who sent wreaths to the funeral service at St David's Church in

the quiet little community of Eastham, just across the river from


Robbie, in particular, was a Liverpool supporter and one of his

heroes, John Aldridge, was among the mourners. The number nine jersey of

another of his heroes, Ian Rush, was among the items which adorned the

altar, banked with orange, yellow and cream flowers.

Shops closed and crowds lined the streets as Robbie's cortege came

down from Darleydale Drive, towards Paul's home at Raeburn Avenue and

the two hearses came side by side as they approached the church. On the

way, they paused by South Wirral High School, where the boys should have

resumed their studies next week.

Lennie and Kathryn Gee came with the coffin of their only child.

Richard and Pat Barker comforted their 11-year-old daughter, Hannah, as

they all joined hands for the funeral of the inseparable friends.

It is hard to fit a tragedy which shocked the nation into the mundane

setting of a community which we would all recognise. Eastham, once a

picturesque village known for its ferry which plied across the Mersey to

Liverpool, is now an attractive surburban area. Avenues run into wooded

beauty spots like that where Robbie, 12, and Paul, 13, had gone that

last Saturday in July at the start of the school holidays.

They had set out on their mountain bikes for the kind of innocent

fishing trip which would reassure most parents at a time when the safety

of their youngsters has become the paramount consideration.

When they had not come home by teatime, their fathers began their own

search and then reported them missing. First the police found the boys'

fishing tackle, still set up by a pond. Early next morning they found

Robbie's body, with knife wounds, lying under some trees. That afternoon

they found Paul's body on the banks of another pond, about 500 yards


Yesterday the minister of St David's United Reformed Church, Dr Peter

Foster, led the tributes to the two lads, along with Bishop Alan


As they played a recording of Everyday by Phil Collins -- a favourite

of both boys -- Dr Foster recalled that Paul had been especially

thrilled to be at one of the star's recent concerts. He was an

easy-going lad whose best birthday present had been membership of the

fishing club. Paul was a keen member of the Boys' Brigade in the church.

Ironically, it was his grandfather, 77-year-old William Barker, who

introduced him to the sport he came to love so much -- the sport that

lead to his tragic end.

Robbie was the football enthusiast, supporting both Liverpool and

Tranmere Rovers. There were tales of pranks and good-natured mischief as

well as love and caring.

Bishop Winstanley said: ''Robbie and Paul had many happy times

together, they lived their lives together and lived them to the full.

They are still together.''

Dr Foster told the parents: ''In your very action of bringing your

boys together to this place, you are declaring to the communities of

Eastham and Bromborough, perhaps even to our nation, that the real

values in life lie in the mutual responsibility which they shared, in

the deep and lasting friendships which they forged along with others

present today, of life lived and enjoyed to the full in family and


''Your vision of a place of safety and of beauty for the community and

for its children, to be enabled by the trust fund which you have asked

to be set up, will I believe be a sign of hope in our midst.''

In a highly-charged service a crowded congregation sang Oh Love That

Wilt Not Let Me Go before WPC Joanne Johnson, who counselled the

families, read the famous poem by Henry Scott Holland, about death

taking you merely into the next room.

A teenage girl, Rebecca Gentry, who lost a friend in another tragedy,

sent a poem, God Will Look After You, My Dear. The headmaster of the

boys' school, Mr Wynn Francis, read the 23rd Psalm, The Lord's My


As the coffins emerged from the church to begin their separate

journeys, Kathryn Gee clutched a single red rose and little Hannah

Barker clung to her teddy bear.

Paul's cortege headed for private cremation at Blacon, while Robbie's

went along the road to Plymard Cemetery. As they lowered his coffin his

mother cast the single rose into the grave.

The wreaths which lay around included one from schoolfriends, two of

which were shaped as footballs and one in the form of a fish,

symbolising not only the boys' favourite pastime but Christianity


Now there was a weeping in the summer wind for two young lives, wasted

and gone forever. No sense in this. No logic, prompting thoughts of what

has gone wrong with the world. Just two small coffins -- and two

families soon to know the loneliness of an everlasting private grief

when public sympathy and concern have moved on to the next unthinkable

tragedy . . . and the next.

* Mr Steven Heaney, 36, of Sutherland Drive, Eastham, has been charged

with both murders. He was twice remanded and is due to appear in court

again on September 12.