HUNDREDS of people turned out to pay their respects to a Horspath loved one described as “a man in a million”.

Ian Simpson died aged 48 in July when an oil drum exploded in the garden of a College Way house.

He had been using an angle grinder to try to turn the 40-gallon oil drum into a bonfire container during a family celebration.

The Horspath resident died hours later at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.

His funeral was held yesterday morning at St Giles Church in Horspath, when so many people turned up some of them were forced to stand in the church while others listened outside.

A horse-drawn carriage was used to take Mr Simpson’s coffin from his home in College Way to the church, where nearly 200 people were waiting.

The cortege was led by another horse as his friends and family followed behind through the village and as the coffin was carried into the church, Bryan Adams’s Everything I Do was playing on the organ.

His nephew Jimmy DeBanks was one of the people who paid tribute to him said: “He was a man in a million. He had a heart of gold.

“He would do anything for anyone and you didn’t have to ask him to do it.

“He loved his family and he loved his horse. He loved life. He loved growing fruit and veg and taking it to all the people around the village.”

The service, which included two hymns and a blessing, was led by Rev Emma Pennington.

When Mr DeBanks broke off his tribute because he was close to tears, Rev Pennington said: “You can see how hard it is to put into words how special Ian was to his family and to the whole community. It is a tribute to his golden heart that we cannot fit you into the church today.”

Speaking after the service, Mr Simpson’s brother, Craig, said: “The funeral went really well. We had a massive turn-out. People were telling me they couldn’t believe their eyes at how many people there were.

“Ian would help everyone out. He was a legend in the village.”

Another mourner said: “He lived a very simple life and didn’t need a new car or the latest iPhone.”

An inquest into Mr Simpson’s death was opened and adjourned on Tuesday, July 31. Oxfordshire Coroner’s Service has not set a date for when it will be reopened.