THE mother of car crash victim Max Lewis paid an emotional tribute to him in front of a packed church at his funeral today.

Nicola Lewis described the popular 19-year-old, who died when the car he was a passenger in was in collision with a van in Forest Lane, Melksham, as “my darling boy”.

She appealed to the young people present: “Please young people, try to keep yourselves safe, because it is just too hard to lose you.”

Around 450 people, many of them teenagers, gathered at St Michael’s Church in Melksham for the service. Many also arrived clutching single flowers, mostly red roses. There were tears as friends comforted each other.

Friends lined the streets wearing pink polka dot dressing gowns in tribute to the former George Ward pupil, who was often seen wearing one. They also wore wristbands which read: Max Lewis Gone but never forgotten RIP 09/01/1995 – 15/11/2014.

Some of Max’s close friends were wearing pink dressing gowns over their smart suits.

The ceremony was conducted by the Rev Renée Coulson, of Holy Cross Church in Seend, where Max’s family live.

Because of the huge number of mourners, the Rev Barry Blackford had offered the larger Melksham church as the venue instead.

Max’s closest friends carried his coffin into the church.

The service began with Winter by Antonio Vivaldi, and was followed by the congregation singing the hymn The Trees of the Field.

Ms Lewis, 50, then spoke of her son’s stunning smile that would light up the room and the many happy memories she, his family and his friends shared of him. She brought laughter to the church with tales of his childhood and told of his prowess as a runner and a footballer and how he looked after his physique.

She said: “You always had a strong sense of who you are. You were determined, adventurous and playful, funny, mischievous and energetic and very caring.

“You have left a huge gaping hole in our lives and hearts.”

Rev Coulson then read a Bible extract from Luke 10:25-37, titled the Parable of the Good Samaritan, an extract chosen by a family friend to represent Max’s friendly and kind nature.

She then put on a pink polka dressing gown on, causing many in the congregation to smile.

Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds was played, acknowledging Max’s interest in reggae music.

Addressing the congregation Dan Lewis, 23, Max’s brother, thanked his friends for their tributes.

Struggling to restrain tears, he said Max, though four years younger, would go out with him to the skate park. He described him as energetic and independent.

Family friend and pianist Michael Foskett then played a nocturne by Chopin before the prayers and blessing and finally R.Kelly’s The World’s Greatest was played, chosen by Max’s friends.

After the service close friends and family attended a burial ceremony at Holy Cross Church, Seend.

Max, who had studied engineering at Wiltshire College’s Chippenham campus, lived with his father Brian Atkinson, 54, at Baldham, Seend. Mr Atkinson is separated from Max’s mum, Ms Lewis, who lives at Martinslade, Seend.

Max’s family are asking for donations in his memory to be made in his name to Bath Cats and Dogs Home at Claverton Down and to Save the Children UK.