Friends of Finchley legend Horace White paid tribute to “a cracking bloke” who “touched a lot of hearts” at the popular man’s funeral this afternoon.

The 54-year-old was buried at Islington Cemetery, in High Road, East Finchley, in front of a 400-strong crowd who came to pay their last respects.

Horace was extremely well known around the North Finchley area, where he hung around outside shops, drawing pictures and chatting to passers-by for more than three decades.

Robert Flinn, 42, of Elmhurst Crescent, first met Horace when he was nine years old and would regularly bump into him in High Road.

He said: “It was a brilliant ceremony. The turnout was amazing – he touched a lot of hearts. Everyone knew him. It is a fitting send off – the perfect tribute.

“We need a bench or some sort of memorial. The numbers here today say it all – there are people here from all over.”

A petition of nearly 6,000 signatures has been gathered online to have a bench laid in the popular figure’s memory.

Representatives from Finchley’s Long Lane fire station also attended the funeral to pay their respects and laid a floral wreath on behalf of the service.

Firefighter Brian Rice said: “He was a local lad who we would bump in to all the time - everyone at the station knew him.

“He was always smiling and was just a lovely character. Coming today was one nice thing we could do and we were happy to come and pay our last respects.

“He was a cracking bloke and always a pleasant and lovely fella. I hope he knew how popular he was.”

Extra cemetery security and Metropolitan PCSOs were brought in to direct with the large crowds at today’s funeral and the service went off without any problems.

A Facebook group entitled ‘RIP Horace’ has gathered more than 10,000 likes.

Fiona Harris, 37, of Finchley Park, knew Horace for 30 years and said he would often cheekily ask her for a kiss when they met.

She said: “The service was lovely, it was very jolly. He was a man that was always there. I’ve never seen so many people at a funeral – the whole of Finchley High Road seems to be here.

“It was nice to hear a bit more about his life as he was quite secretive. To find out he had family too just makes it even more sad.”