A video showing the emotional final journey of a Peterlee man, accompanied by his loyal Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross, has gone viral, reaching a global audience of over 850,000. 

Gareth Richards, 36, was laid to rest earlier this month and his family were keen that his devoted dog Malic was there at the funeral.

The video, was produced by Julie Stout, co-director at Delanoy Funeral Service, at the request of the Richards family. 

Julie has been making videos of funerals at the request of families as a precious keepsake of their loved ones’ final journey since the business launched in 2020 as the height of the Covid pandemic and draws on her marketing background.

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Julie said: “This funeral service and video were particularly poignant for us as Gareth idolised his dog Malic, they lived together and really were best friends.

“After speaking at length with his family to arrange the service, we knew we had to make sure that Malic was at Gareth’s funeral just as he was in his life – by his side.

“It was so emotional as John and I are dog owners and lovers, we know how much Malic is going to miss Gareth. So that’s why it was so important for us to make this happen.”

The Northern Echo: Malic at the funeral. Malic at the funeral. (Image: Delanoy Funeral Service)

Since releasing the video on social media with the permission of the family, including Gareth’s older brothers Chris, 42, and Barry, 45, it has reached over 8500,000 people worldwide (over 100,000 people have watched the video), with viewers commenting on just how beautiful the video was and what a fitting tribute it was to Gareth’s memory.

John said: “We work tirelessly to give people the send-off they would want and deserve, surrounded by the people that mattered most to them. In Gareth’s case that was his dog Malic and his family, so we made sure they were all there throughout his final journey.

The Northern Echo: Gareth Richards Gareth Richards (Image: Family Handout)

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“We know that it has given his loved one some comfort knowing that his best friend was there by his side the way it always was before his untimely death.”

Delanoy Funeral Services was formed by John Delanoy and Julie Stout after they were introduced by a mutual friend who thought they’d work well together.

Next month marks the end of their third year in business with the duo now employing five members of staff from their office at Oakerside Park in Peterlee.