Oliver Speight’s emotional tribute to son Mark

The father of children’s TV presenter Mark Speight described his son as a Pied Piper figure who took youngsters on a ‘magical mystery tour’ of art.

Oliver Speight told those gathered at his son’s funeral the 42-year-old had also been a poet, comedian and artist with a special talent for making people laugh.

Colleagues of the TV presenter and relatives of his late fiancee, Natasha Collins, were among around 200 mourners at the funeral in Wolverhampton.

His father told how his family were deeply moved by the flood of emails to the BBC from children expressing sympathy after Mark was found dead in London a fortnight ago.

Mr Speight praised the BBC for the compassion, support and understanding they had shown to the family, and for their crucial role in developing his son’s skills.

“I cannot thank them enough, they are really part of the family. The BBC together moulded his talent,” he said.

Addressing those who worked with Mark on the BBC’s SMart show, he added: “You were all generous with each other. Nobody tried to steal the thunder – that was the beauty of SMart.”

He likened his son to Peter Pan and the Pied Piper. “You leave here with the adoration of those 7,000 children that emailed the BBC and who miss you today – sleep well in eternity, you have earned your rest,” he said.

The vicar of Wolverhampton’s St Michael and All Angels’ Church, the Reverend Margaret Mattocks, described Speight’s death as tragic.

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