Teenager who loved comic books given superhero send-off at funeral

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Mourners donned their capes, masks and plastic props as family and friends paid a final tribute to a comic fan with a superhero-themed funeral.

Teenager Arthur Peebles killed himself on November 1 after years of bullying and mental health problems.

His family said he found solace in comic book characters, such as Superman and Spiderman, as well as Toy Story's Buzz and Woody.

It prompted his mother, Jacqueline Peebles, to organise a special funeral in recognition of her only son's passion.

Speaking to the Press Association on the eve of the service, in Morden, Surrey, Ms Peebles said: "Arthur had enough doom and gloom going on in his head during his little life, and I thought 'I'm not sending him away with doom and gloom too'.

"He loved his superheroes - that was his world. He was a superhero to us and we wanted to give him the send-off he deserves."

Ms Peebles arrived at the service dressed as She Hulk, while other characters included Batman and Captain America.

A little levity was provided when members of the family spotted one late arrival, struggling up the driveway in a large Buzz Lightyear costume.

The coffin was decorated with the Superman logo, while the service also featured an extract from Iron Giant, Arthur's favourite film. Music during the service included See You Again by Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth, and I'll Be Missing You by Puff Daddy and Faith Evans.

Ms Peebles, who released doves in her son's name before the service, said Arthur was "a pure soul" who was loved by his friends for his wit and intellect.

But his slight build and gentle nature made him a soft target for bullies - starting at the age of five when older children tied a noose to a tree and said they wanted to hang him, she said.

Ms Peebles said she hoped Arthur's death at the age of 18 would raise awareness of bullying and prompt authorities and parents to take greater action against those who torment others.

She said: "He was never one for conflict. He never drank alcohol, fizzy, tea or coffee, only water which he said was 'brain juice'. He's never been to a pub, a club, experienced anything with a woman - he died a virgin, a pure soul.

"Like many children, Arthur was a victim to bullying from a young age. He suffered from mental health problems which resulted in him tragically taking his own life. We want his funeral to raise awareness of mental health issues to ensure that young people like Arthur get access to the support they need.

"Arthur was my superhero and now I'm going to drive this forwards and be his."

Co-op Funeral director Cindi Gordon, who led the funeral dressed as She-Ra from the He-Man comic books, said: "I can honestly say, conducting a funeral dressed as She-Ra has to be a personal first.

"It's inspirational how Arthur's mum Jacqueline has approached the loss of her son.

"At a truly devastating time, she's managed to put her feelings to one side and help us do everything possible to arrange a funeral that reflects her son Arthur's life. Even down to her plans to scatter his ashes in America, a place he longed to visit."

:: For more information on the campaign, visit thepetitionsite.com and search for Arthur's Law