father’s service

Hundreds of mourners have begun to turn out to honour Fusilier Rigby, 25, who was hacked to death outside Woolwich barracks in east London on May 22.

Mourners have arrived for the funeral of murdered soldier Lee Rigby as hundreds lined the streets to pay their respects to the soldier brutally killed in broad daylight.

His son Jack, two, arrived at the funeral wearing a blue t shirt with ‘My Daddy, My Hero’ printed on the back.

Members of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers held a two-minute silence to honour the soldier, whose death prompted nationwide shock.

Prime Minister David Cameron arrived with Mayor of London Boris Johnson to attend the funeral. They were one thousands to pay tribute to the father, who had served in Afghanistan.

As grieving friends and family entered the church, members of the public clapped as they entered the church for the private service.

Officials organising the funeral are expecting a huge turn-out for the murdered soldier’s funeral a couple of miles from his home town of Middleton, Greater Manchester.

Fusilier Rigby, a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF), was killed as he returned to Woolwich barracks from the Tower of London on May 22.

He had served in Afghanistan as a machine gunner and was attached to the regimental recruiting team when he was murdered in daylight on a street in south London.

The horrific killing led to nationwide shock and revulsion, and led to an outpouring of support for his family from the public.

Serving soldiers, forces veterans and ordinary members are lining the streets outside Bury Parish Church where a guard of honour kept a vigil overnight over their comrade’s coffin inside the church.

The town of Bury, which has strong military links to the Army, has from early morning been swamped by old and not so old former soldiers in their regimental ties, blazers, caps and proudly wearing their campaign medals.

Later, the soldier’s heartbroken loved ones will lead mourners at the private service in Bury, just a couple of miles from his home town of Middleton, Greater Manchester.

Fusilier Lee Rigby's son Jack wears a 'My daddy My Hero' t-shirt as he attends his father's service

Fusilier Lee Rigby’s son Jack wears a ‘My daddy My Hero’ t-shirt as he attends his father’s service.

Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor, commanding officer of the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF), said: ‘He was larger than life, he was always at the centre of fun and mischief, but he was a true regimental character with real charisma and everybody fell under his spell.’

Lt Col Taylor, speaking outside Bury Parish Church, added: ‘We are here to honour him today and as a regiment support his family, stand shoulder to shoulder with them at their time of need.

‘But it is also a day that we as a regiment want to remember him for the true character he was.

‘One of the things about the Fusiliers as a regiment is, we are a family regiment and that is not just the immediate family within the corps of drums but much wider to that.

Members of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers march through the high street for the funeral service of Fusilier Lee Rigby at Bury Parish Church

Members of The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers march through the high street for the funeral service of Fusilier Lee Rigby at Bury Parish Church

 

 
 
Members of The Royal Regiment march through the streets of Bury, where his funeral will be held. Well-wishers have been asked to show their respects by lining the streets outside
Veterans line the streets for Lee Rigby
 

Serving soldiers, forces veterans and ordinary members are lining the streets outside Bury Parish Church

‘This is a regimental heartland and the people of Bury have been long associated with the Fusiliers and I expect the people of Middleton will do exactly the same as we take Lee to his place of rest later on today.

‘It means the world to us as a regiment to see the public support. I have been inundated with letters from around the country, around the world showing solidarity with us as a regiment and passing on sincere condolences, which has been deeply touching.’

His family and regiment paid an emotional tribute leading up to the funeral, saying that the father had become a hero after his death, and support from around the world had helped them endure their overwhelming grief.

His mother Lyn, 46, said: ‘We have received overwhelming support from the public, friends, family.

‘We have had thousands of cards, with kind words. That basically has given us the strength to get through this time.’

His stepfather Ian, 54, said the support showed how the motives behind his murder could be defeated.

‘Whatever the intention was, it’s backfired because it’s made Lee into the hero and the martyr,’ he said.

‘And the support and the unity through the country… we have been having phone calls or letters off mosques, off Jewish sections, every religion you can think of and not just in this country.

‘The country is united, whatever elements may wish to stop it. It’s not working because it’s working the other way.’

Mr Rigby said the family wanted today’s funeral to be a celebration of his life. ‘Lee was a fun-loving lad and that is how he should be remembered,’ he said.

‘We would like today a certain amount of respect and dignity, but we would like it to be Lee’s day and Lee remembered as how he was.

‘We don’t want everybody crying and getting heartbroken. We would rather enjoy Lee’s memories as he was with us.’

His widow said his own wishes had been for a funeral ceremony that was a remembrance of his life.

‘He wanted people to enjoy that and sit and talk about happy days and happy memories they have got of Lee and the things he used to do and say because he was always so full of life,’ she said.

‘He just wanted to put a smile on everyone’s face.’

Yesterday, hundreds of people lined the streets as the father-of-one’s family attended a vigil at Bury Parish Church.

Comrades, forces veterans and members of the public lined the route to Bury Parish Church where soldiers kept a guard of honour over the body of Fusilier Rigby overnight before his funeral today.

The soldier’s loved ones will lead mourners at the private service in Bury, where there is a strong security presence.

The family, who have been inundated with cards, letters and flowers in condolence from all over the country and abroad and from all faiths, wish for a private service.

Well-wishers have been asked to show their respects by lining the streets outside, where they will hear the service on loudspeakers from inside the church.

Earlier, police officers swept the streets of Bury ahead of the funeral of murdered soldier Lee Rigby later today.

They were seen checking flower beds, patrolling the roads and inspecting floral tributes left for the soldier.

Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons earlier this week that the whole of the UK will be mourning with the family at the funeral, beginning at 11am.

The coffin arrived at Bury Parish Church yesterday ahead of an all-night vigil on the eve of the Fusilier's funeral

The coffin arrived at Bury Parish Church yesterday ahead of an all-night vigil on the eve of the Fusilier’s funeral

 

 
His wife Rebecca Rigby struggled to hold back her tears as she carried their son Jack and followed his coffin

His wife Rebecca Rigby struggled to hold back her tears as she carried their son Jack and followed his coffin.

THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS: FUSILIER’S WIDOW TELLS OF ‘UNBELIEVABLE’ SUPPORT FROM AROUND THE WORLD

Ahead of the private funeral in Bury, Greater Manchester today, his widow spoke movingly about how they hoped the ceremony would confound his killers’ intentions by celebrating him as a ‘hero’ and ‘martyr’.

Fighting back tears throughout, his 30-year-old wife Rebecca said: ‘We have had an awful lot of support from across the world. It has been overwhelming.‘We have had letters from the Prime Minister, from senior politicians from all parties, the Duke of Kent, from the Sikh community.

‘Various large mosques and interfaith groups have been in touch with letters of condolences and such.’

‘We have had masses of cards, letters and donations from everywhere. It’s unbelievable, really, the things that have been coming in.

Fusilier Rigby’s widow also spoke of the kindness of total strangers towards their two-year-old son, Jack.

‘I was handed £1.10, two 50p coins and a 10p piece, that had been handed over by somebody at the Tower of London,’ she said. ‘It was requested that it be passed on to the soldier’s son’s money.

‘And I have had a cheque off another lady. She sent me a lovely letter and a cheque for £10 asking me to buy something to put a smile on Jack’s face.

‘He wanted a scooter so we got him a scooter which he absolutely loves.’

She added: ‘There are so many kind and generous people out there. It’s just horrible that it takes something such as this to make you see how many good people there are.’

:: Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, have been charged with the murder of Fusilier Rigby and are due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on November 18.

They will appear at the same court for a plea and case management hearing on September 27.


 

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