Hundreds of people turned out in Barnstaple this morning (Friday) to say a final goodbye to a cancer nurse who inspired everyone she met.

Family, friends, colleagues and patients of Laura Denaire Harris filled St Peter and St Magdalene Parish Church in Barnstaple for a celebration of her life.

In true Laura style, the service was filled with fun anecdotes, laughter, and a bit of rock.

Her wicker coffin was carried in by her closest family and friends – under the close guard of one of her beloved dogs – to the Bruce Springsteen classic Born In The USA.

It was draped in an American flag and many of her family and friends also wore special ‘Team Lanky Yankee’ t-shirts in tribute to her affectionately-given nickname.

Laura with her friends on her wedding dayLaura with her friends on her wedding day

Leading the service, The Reverend David Fletcher told how the Baltimore-born oncology nurse had also enjoyed a varied career path as a model, lifeguard, shop manager and make-up artist.

Her colleagues and friends read tributes to the 43-year-old, who was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer, but continued to work with cancer patients as long as she possibly could.

Laura was so proud of being a nurse in fact, that at her request she will be cremated wearing her nurse’s uniform.

Her colleague Naomi Clatworthy said Laura was a rock chick, the life and soul of the party, and had a wicked sense of humour.

Laura and her husband Paul on their wedding day at their home in Barnstaple.Laura and her husband Paul on their wedding day at their home in Barnstaple.

She was incredible passionate about helping less experienced members of staff on the Seamoor Unit, and in her memory a scholarship is being set up for staff to continue their learning.

Laura was a huge Metallica fan and when she was first diagnosed with cancer, word got back to the band, who sent her some goodies.

Her coffin was carried out of the service to their song Nothing Else Matters.

In what little spare time she had, the mother-of-two was also an ambassador of two North Devon charities: Over and Above and ChemoHero.

Laura was extremely proud of being a nurse and dedicated her life to helping those with cancer, even after she was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer herself.Laura was extremely proud of being a nurse and dedicated her life to helping those with cancer, even after she was diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer herself.

The service heard Laura was delighted when she heard work to start building the cancer and wellbeing centre in Barnstaple would start next year.

Before the ceremony, Lisa Wallis, ChemoHero founder and close friend of Laura, posted a message on the ChemoHero page.

She said: “Laura we thank you for all the kindness you have shown us. We are going to miss you so incredibly much but as promised to you we are are going to ‘rock’ ChemoHero with you in the central part of our hearts.”

Laura, who died on October 31, leaves behind her husband Paul, her children Noah and Molly, her step-son, mother and brother.

Anyone who wishes to leave a donation in her memory to Over and Above and North Devon Hospice can do so here.