Ryan Thomas says it's been a 'tough time' as he pays heartfelt tribute to his dad Dougie after his death

RYAN Thomas has said it's been a "tough time" following the death of his father Dougie as he paid a heartfelt tribute to the late soul singer.

The former Coronation Street star has mourned away from social media since his loss at the end of November, and he returned today to tell fans just what his dad meant to him.

Alongside a black and white picture of him as a child with his dad, he wrote: "You are the reason I’m proud to be a Thomas, since being a young child I’ve always been in awe of you, growing up watching you on the stage to people stopping me in the street saying 'are you Dougie James’s son?' is something I love more than you will ever know."

Recalling the ITV documentary, Mancs in Mumbai, they filmed last year with brothers Scott and Adam, Ryan continued: "Last year feels in more special now because me & my brothers got the chance to show you off to the nation we will never forget that."

The 72-year-old's funeral took place on Friday and Ryan was taken back by the love he saw for his father.

He said: "Just wanted to take this time to thank every single person for coming out to the Chapel on Friday one of the hardest days of my life but it’s times like this you realise how important your friends and family are.

"We were overwhelmed with the amount of people who turned up to show there respect he really was loved in Manchester, there were moments at the chapel I’d feel myself looking at all the people with a big smile on face thinking 'that’s my dad!!!!' so glad I got to show you off one last time.

"I’ve not had chance to reply to everyone’s messages but I want you to know your love & support has really helped me get through this extremely tough time thank you 🙏🏼."

Ryan added that he couldn't have got through it without his brothers, calling them "best gift" his dad ever gave him.

The '70s music legend, who toured with The Jackson 5 with his band Dougie James And The Soul Train, died last month.

His brother Barry said: "Thanks to Ryan, Scott and Adam for letting me know the legend that was my brother Dougie James has passed away.

"Thanks for the laughs the musical education bro, see you on the other side."

Dougie is dad to Ryan, 36, and twin sons, former Emmerdale actor Adam and ex-Love Island contestant, Scott, both 32.

Last year, the boys headed to India with their dad for Mancs In Mumbai where they explored their heritage.

The boys confronted their once-estranged dad, with Adam later revealing the trip was "quite emotional" for all of them.

Dougie split from the boys' mum when the twins were born – leading to a bitter divorce.

Their parents weren't in the same room again together until Ryan's 21st birthday.

Adam spoke about how important the journey was to get closer to Dougie.

He said: "Getting to take him along on this journey with us was very special. It's pretty much his show, he steals this show from start to finish.

"So he was finding out about his dad, but we were also finding out about our dad also."

Ryan, who welcomed son Roman with fiancée Lucy Mecklenburgh in March, also spoke of the poignant journey.

He said: "He always referred to his dad as his hero. And the moment it hit him was when he went to where our granddad went to school.

"I said, 'Dad, this is the exact same playground that your dad played in when he was a child'."

Dougie, who was raised in Wythenshawe, found fame in Soul Train with his brother Barry and fellow members Red Hoffman, Bo Lee, Lyn Oakie, Neil Shaw-Hulme and Ian Laing.

He opened for the Jackson 5 at the Manchester Apollo in 1979 and also worked with other giants including Frank Sinatra, James Brown and Stevie Wonder.

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