Local News

Sad farewell to true hero

posted by: Manchester Evening News - Friday 4th September, 2009

click here to enlargeHundreds of mourners gathered yesterday to pay tribute to Fusilier Simon Annis, from Cadishead, Salford, who died as he tried to save his section commander following an explosion near Sangin in Helmand province in August.

The young soldier was killed along with two other members of the 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.

He married his sweetheart Caroline just a month before he was sent to Afghanistan in March and the funeral was held at St John The Baptist Church in Irlam, where they wed.

As the crowd of mourners, who included active and former servicemen and women, stretched out of the church grounds a booklet containing childhood images of Fusilier Annis was handed out.

The images show Fusilier Annis from a baby through his teens and his early years in the army.

His coffin, carried into church by fellow soldiers, was draped in a Union flag and adorned with a wreath of poppies.

Ten other members of the regiment formed a guard of honour as ex-servicemen lowered to the ground regimental standards with black ribbons tied on them.

Fusilier Annis' brother Stuart told the congregation in a message that was relayed outside on loud speakers that his little brother, who was nicknamed Dobber, was a 'true hero'.

He added: "Simon has made me the proudest brother in the world and to continue to live every day without my ray of sunshine seems impossible.

"However, I stand with pride as I am the brother of a true hero. Rest in peace Simon, my brother, my friend."

Stuart also paid tribute to his 'lovable character' and said he left a 'lasting impression' wherever he went.

He said Caroline made him the 'happiest man in the world' and she was 'truly the love of his life'.

Fusilier Annis' friend Matthew Taylor said: "I am very proud to have known Simon and will never forget him. I couldn't have asked for a better mate."

A prayer was read by friend Sergeant John Royle. Army padre Jerry Sutton, who led the service with the Reverend Dr David Wheeler, said the young soldier's 'irresistible cheekiness' and 'inherent joy' brought a smile to so many people.

He added: "He was able to make the best of things, however hard they might be."

A bugler played the Last Post and those gathered held a minute's silence.

Prayers were also said for his family and the two soldiers who died with him, Lance Corporal James Fullarton and Fusilier Louis Carter, whose funeral was being held at the same time.

More than 200 British soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan.

The order of service contained a poem called Footprints In The Sand, which Fusilier Annis always carried in his wallet, and a tribute from his mother Ann that said: "The pride burns in my heart for the job he did."

Mourners stood silently as the coffin was carried from the church. But they gave a round of applause as the funeral cortege moved away.

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