THE life of former Daily Echo editor Neal Butterworth has been celebrated by hundreds of people at his funeral.

He was remembered with pride as a family man, friend and inspirational boss.

The service at St James's Church in Poole heard his younger daughter Dayna read a poem and older daughter Gemma deliver a eulogy.

Gemma said the cards, letters and comments in the Daily Echo had been a "real source of comfort" since Neal's death from cancer earlier this month at the age of 55.

She said he was a passionate family man. "He was always there for us. He never let us down. He always stood by us, through thick and thin," she said.

And she spoke of his sincere love for her mum Julie. "My dad leaves us a very happy man, having been so very much in love and very much loved by my mum," she said.

She said of her dad: "I'm so proud of everything you've achieved in your life, so proud of the person that you were and I'm so proud of how bravely and courageously you fought the way you did in the last months and how much positivity you showed throughout."

Friend Peter White told how Neal "worshipped his family" and remembered him as friend, sportsman, newspaper man and Manchester United fan.

Ed Perkins, deputy editor throughout his 13 years at the Echo, recalled how Neal had turned his back on a fledgling career with Manchester City to become the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

"The real joy of Neal was his irrepressible, positive, optimistic nature. It was a wonderful attribute that turned colleagues at work and everybody who met him into friends," he said.

He remembered the millions of pounds that were raised for charity during Neal's time at the Echo, as well as his "inspirational" leadership.

He also recalled the staff nights out that were dubbed Neal and Ed's Excellent Adventures.

"Neal's whole life was an excellent adventure, full of the fun that he brought to the friends and family and his colleagues and the whole world. Today we should celebrate our luck that such an amazing guy shared part of his life and laughter with us," he added.

The funeral music included the song Land of Hope and Dreams by Neal's beloved Bruce Springsteen. The coffin was carried out to Arthur Conley's Sweet Soul Music and Springsteen's Born To Run.