Darth Vader leads Stormtroopers in guard of honour at Star Wars fan’s funeral

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A funeral procession from a galaxy far, far away saw Darth Vader lead an army of Stormtroopers through Derbyshire to pay their respects to Star Wars fanatic Paul Wadley.

The 55-year-old, known affectionately as "Pedge", lost his battle with motor neurone disease on Friday, December 10, but despite the disease had time to plan every last detail of his sci-fi send-off.

Wadley turned his Star Wars obsession into a fundraising opportunity after lovingly building the only movie-accurate replicate of the film's popular droid C-3PO and taking the elaborate costume to countless events.

The father-of-four was a member of the fundraising costume group The 99th Garrison, and members of the group took part in the jaw-dropping procession, Derby Telegraph reports.

Stormtroopers and other characters from the franchise, including R2-D2 models, lined the path of the funeral procession to St Oswald's Church which was filled with Wadley's friends, family and Star Wars fans.

His widow, Sonja Wadley, the mother of two of his children, followed the plans for the funeral to the letter and says she was grateful to everyone who gave their support on the day.

She said: "It was absolutely perfect, just brilliant. It went exactly how he wanted it to. I think we did him proud.

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"He planned it all. He planned everything, I just had to organise it. And it went really well."

Mrs Wadley, who was told her husband was suffering from the disease on Valentine's Day two years ago, also expressed her gratitude to Ashbourne Food Bank and St Oswald's Primary School, who each supported the family after Mr Wadley's health deteriorated.

She said: "I can't thank people like the food bank and St Oswald's School enough for all the help they've given us as a family, throughout Paul's illness.

"They've been absolutely marvellous. We owe them a massive thank you."

Characters from the franchise, the first film of which released four decades ago, lined the streets to pay respect to Wadley.

Since the first feature released, the series has gone on to spawn a legacy of awards-winning films, television shows, graphic novels and video games, most recently with the release of The Book of Boba Fett.

The franchise is the second-highest grossing franchise of all time, just behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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The first feature, released in 1977 and directed by George Lucas, was nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards but lost out to New York-set comedy, Annie Hall.

The cast of Star Wars have since featured in a variety of offshoots and spin-offs to the original, including video games and new sequels.

Most recently, the original trio of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher and Mark Hamill reunited in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.

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