FRIENDS and staff have said a final goodbye to a beloved children's nurse as his funeral car drove by the hospital one last time.

The wife of Ralph Gahnstrom says she was brought to tears when his cortege drove by Brighton's Royal Alexandra Children's hospital on Friday.

Crowds of friends and colleagues came out to wave goodbye to Ralph, who had worked as a nurse at the hospital for 35 years.

Susie, 48, Ralph's wife said: "It just took my breath away. There were so many people lining the pavements.

"At the beginning I could only see the people on the straight bit of road, but when we turned the curve we saw a sea of people and they were all clapping and waving their flags.

The Argus: Ralph and his two sons with SusieRalph and his two sons with Susie

"Apparently people were all stood in the windows as well and theatre staff paused the theatre for five minutes.

"I'm so unbelievably touched. It just shows what a special man he was. He was a piece of the furniture there."

Ralph was just 66 when he died on New Year's Day after being diagnosed with a brain tumour, he had only retired in April.

Susie said that she is grateful that she was able to give Ralph the send off he deserved and that she is so grateful to everyone who came out to say goodbye.

The pair, of Hendon Street, Brighton, met while working at the hospital in 1999 and had been together ever since. They have two sons, Jack, 14 and Sydney, 11.

Ralph also had six grown up children from his previous marriage, and two grandchildren Freddie and Maisie.

The Argus: Ralph and SusieRalph and Susie

The cortege drove past hospital following a funeral service at St John the Baptist in Kemp Town.

Susie said: "It was pouring with rain when everyone was going into the church.

"His six friends wheeled his coffin, his wicker coffin he had asked for, with the most beautiful flowers. I followed behind."

She said she was extremely proud of her eldest son who lead the church in prayer for part of the service and asked everyone to pray for the ill children that his dad "worked all his life to help".

Susie gave an eight minute emotional eulogy and spoke of how much Ralph meant to her, his children, his friends, his patients and colleagues.

The Argus: All of Ralph's childrenAll of Ralph's children

She later found out that parents of past and present patients, and of those who had died, were also in the congregation. She said it made her so happy.

Ruby Shepherd, who is now ten, was one of Ralph's patients from the age of four.

She said: "Ralph was a very kind person. He would always make up jokes and called me Greg as a joke because at that time I liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid.

"He was gentle and always had a smile. There wasn’t ever a dull moment when Ralph was around."

Susie said that seeing everyone come out to say goodbye gave her some comfort on a very difficult day.