HUNDREDS of friends and family packed into Overdale Crematorium for the funeral of Paul Haslam - described as “one of life’s characters” - who died earlier this month.

The popular dad-of-one was found dead at his Tonge Moor home on April 2 after suffering a ruptured stomach ulcer. He was aged 39.

Many guests had to listen to the funeral service on a speaker outside the hall because of the sheer number of people wanting to pay their respects to Mr Haslam.

Those gathered heard that he was a loving father to his eight-year-old son, Joshua, and a passionate fan of Bolton Wanderers, James Bond and the Star Wars films.

In tribute to his enthusiasm for science fiction, the Star Wars theme music was played to the assembled crowd during the service.

Mr Haslam was living at an address in Tonge Moor Road when he died but grew up in Harwood.

Speaking at the funeral, his close friend Russ Lord said: “He was known as Paul to friends, as daddy to Joshua and we used to call him Chubs because of his athletic physique.

“He was my friend — and he, like his father before him, was a Jedi — may the force be with you always.”

Another close friend, John Ratcliffe paid tribute to “the life and soul of the party,” adding: “Paul was always up for a laugh and I was proud to be friends with him.

“I am really going to miss you pal — you always put a smile on my face.”

The guests also heard that Mr Haslam, who worked at William Hare Engineers in Bury, was a big food fan, but would only choose to eat meat and potatoes, in great quantity.

He was also said to enjoy camping weekends and poker nights that lasted until the early hours of the morning.

His sister, Caroline Haslam, speaking after the service, said: “I think it says a lot about the type of person that Paul was that so many people came that they couldn’t all fit in the room.

“I want to thank all his friends for everything they have done for the funeral — they have been amazing.

“Today has been emotional but it has been more of a celebration of Paul’s life and I think if he was looking down on us he would definitely have approved.”

You can see more pictures from Mr Haslam's funeral here.