Father of fellow air disaster victim to attend funeral of Glenn Thomas

Support: Barry Sweeney, 'pictured at his son Liam's funeral, will  stand shoulder to shoulder with the family of  Glenn Thomas
Support: Barry Sweeney, 'pictured at his son Liam's funeral, will stand shoulder to shoulder with the family of Glenn Thomas
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Hundreds of mourners from all over the world will bow in silence today to honour MH17 air disaster victim Glenn Thomas.

And the father of another victim of the Malaysia Airlines tragedy will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the grieving sister of Mr Thomas.

Lytham’s Lowther Pavilion is expected to be packed with friends, family and former colleagues of the former Highfield High school student for his funeral.

At the start of the service, a minute’s silence will be held in memory of the other 297 people killed when the Malaysia Airlines flight crashed down over Ukraine.

Barry Sweeney, father of Liam Sweeney, who was among the 10 Britons killed in the disaster, is due to be among the guests of honour today.

Glenn’s twin sister Tracey Withers, who is due to read a poem with her daughter 
Britanny during the 
service, said the funeral will be a “touching” occasion that will honour all of those who lost their lives on July 17.

The 50-year-old, of South Shore, said: “We have got 
people arriving from Switzerland, Geneva, everywhere.

“I have asked for a minute’s silence at the start because it is not just us that have lost family members.

“There are lots of families that are suffering just like us.”

Mrs Withers said it had helped being able to speak to the families of other victims, including Mr Sweeney, who arrived on the Fylde coast at the start of the week.

She added: “I was with him yesterday and on Monday – it’s all getting a bit real now.

“I was filling up with tears a bit yesterday.

“It’s going to be hard today but we will get through.”

Mr Sweeney, whose son Liam was travelling to watch Newcastle United FC play pre-season friendly games in New Zealand, said he was honoured to be invited today.

He described Liam, 28, as a “gentle giant”, adding: “He died doing something he loved and that was watching football.”

Mr Sweeney added:“I met Tracey and the family at Downing Street.

“We became friends and since then we have just kept in touch. Liam was buried about six weeks ago so I know what they are going through today. It still seems so surreal but you move on because yo have to as a family.

“It’s nice to come down for this – I just wanted to show our support for the family.”

Mr Sweeney said being able to talk to other people affected by the tragedy has helped the families to cope.

He added: “Everybody says you always look at a disaster and you’re always looking from the outside – it always happens to somebody else. But we all know what it’s like. It’s going to be a very hard day for the family but I’m 
sure with help they will get through it.”

Glenn’s nephew Jordan Withers is due to read out a tribute during the service.

A series of tributes have also been prepared by some of Glenn’s former employers, including BBC and the World Health Organisation, where he worked as press officer in the years before his death.

A representative of flight operator Malaysia Airlines is also due to attend.

The disaster, which claimed the lives of all 283 passengers and 15 staff on board, has been widely blamed on pro-Russian rebels.”