DOZENS of lanterns were released into the sky in memory of a 16-year-old boy who died in a factory accident just a few weeks after he started working there.

More than 250 family and friends gathered to remember Cameron Minshull, who suffered fatal injuries while working at a machine at the premises in Huntley Mount Road, Bury, on Tuesday last week.

Cameron, who lived in Unsworth, had been taken on as an apprentice at Zaffar Engineering UK Ltd just three weeks before.

He suffered a serious head injury and was taken to Wythenshawe Hospital by air ambulance, where he died a short time later.

Greater Manchester Police and the Health And Safety Executive (HSE) have started a joint investigation into the incident.

His devastated dad, Lee, was among those who attended the vigil, outside Cameron’s former school — Radcliffe Riverside High — on Friday evening.

In a statement, Cameron’s family said: “We have lost a very precious part of our lives and there are no words that can describe how we are feeling.

“Cameron was a much-loved son, brother, nephew, grandson, great-grandson and a friend to many. He will leave a big hole in many people's hearts.”

Trish Clayton, whose 16-year-old son Joseph was a close friend of Cameron’s, attended the vigil.

She said: “I’m devastated. He grew up with my son, more or less all his life.

“He was brilliant. He didn’t have a bad word to say about anybody.

“The number of people here is amazing, he would be so proud.”

Several people wore T-shirts with pictures of the teenager on the front and others laid flowers outside the school gates, where dozens of bunches had already been left along with balloons, candles and letters.

Family friend John Butterworth, who lives in Prestwich, said: “I think it’s tragic.

“Being a father myself, you think about things that happen like this.

“I just wanted to pay my respects, with Lee.”

Schoolfriends hugged each other while others gazed to the skies and watched the lanterns float into the distance, in tribute to the popular youngster.

Heartfelt notes were left including ones which read: “RIP mate, you’ll never be forgotten. I’ll remember the good days” and “Rest in peace Cameron Minshull. Gone too soon, will be missed by many”.

Cameron, who had two sisters and one brother, was a former pupil at Castlebrook High School. He later attended Radcliffe Riverside High School and left last summer with 12 GCSEs.

Radcliffe Riverside’s headteacher, Mr Ian Bott, said: “We have received the very sad news that Cameron Minshull, who was in our year 11 last year, tragically died.

“Cameron was tremendously popular and a great member of our school community.

“Naturally, everyone at school is hugely saddened and all our thoughts go out to his family and friends.”

More than 2,400 people joined a Facebook group in memory of Cameron and a tribute with many photographs of him was posted on YouTube.

Devastated friends also left messages on social networking websites Twitter and Facebook.

Jessica Boyle said: “Horrible news and far too young to go, RIP Cameron Minshull, thoughts are with his family+friends xxxx”

Shanan Mackin said: “Cameron Minshull you’re going to be the brightest star tonight.”

Ellie Louise Massey said: “Cameron Minshull — 8th Jan 2013 sleep tight Cam you'll be missed but never forgotten you’re in a better place now?xxxxx”

Shane Rhoden said: “He truly was a great guy, I can't believe something like this has happened to a guy like him. Rest in peace mate no-one will ever forget you”

Kim Ainsworth Mahon said: “Gone too young, too soon, shine on Cameron, sleep tight lil fella, love & hugs to you & your family, xxx ?”

Footballers from Prestwich Town Reds wore black armbands during their match on Saturday against Unsworth Dragons.

A statement on their website said: “He was a classmate and friend to some of our players and our condolences go out to his family and friends. A life lost too soon. RIP Cameron.”

A post-mortem examination has been held and an inquest is due to be opened by the coroner.

No date has yet been set for the funeral.

The investigation into the cause of the incident continues and a HSE spokesman said their inspectors had visited Zaffar Engineering.

A spokesman for the firm said he was co-operating with the investigation and employees gave statements to the police about what happened.

He added: “We are deeply very sorry about what happened.

“Cameron was a popular member of staff.”