Kington turns out to say goodbye to fallen soldier

Hereford Times: Students from Lady Hawkins were among the hundreds in attendance as the funeral cortege made its way through Kington. (Picture by Charlie Bailey) Students from Lady Hawkins were among the hundreds in attendance as the funeral cortege made its way through Kington. (Picture by Charlie Bailey)

HUNDREDS lined Kington's streets this afternoon to pay their respects to the family of Oliver Thomas, one of five servicemen who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan last month.

“It was a death has touched the whole community,” said Kington mayor Celia Kibblewright.

The funeral cortege stopped to lay a wreath at the war memorial, where members of the British Legion paid their own tribute to the 26-year-old lance corporal.

It then continued, led by a police escort, down the high street where a group of students from Lady Hawkins High School –where Oliver had been head boy – observed the procession with head Gary House.

They were joined by hundreds of friends, family and Kington residents, who came out to say goodbye to a much-loved son and brother.

“He was a truly great guy,” said Lynette Longstaffe, who worked alongside Oliver in local politics before his decision to join the Intelligence Corps.

“It’s so sad.”

Robert Griffin also worked with Oliver, campaigning for Brecon and Radnorshire MP Roger Williams.

He said: “Oliver had an unfailing enthusiasm for anything he took on.”

“He cared about people – for him that’s what the job was about, he wanted to do what he could to make a difference to people.

“He was a lot of fun to be with – he will be sadly, sadly missed.”

Oliver is survived by his parents, Clive and Joanna, sister Polly and his girlfriend Laura.

Last week the bodies of all five servicemen killed in the helicopter crash on the Pakistani border were part of an emotional cortege from RAF Brize Norton.

Families laid flowers on the hearse; the 453rd time this ceremony has taken place since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001.

Described as a “tragic accident” by the MOD, the crash represents the third-greatest loss of life during the conflict.

Mayor Kibblewright added: “It is great tragedy to lose a young person who had so much of his life in front of him.

“It’s a huge loss to his family.

“And we are a close community, you can see many different age-groups and many different people here today to support them.”

Following the procession through Kington, close family made their way to Hereford Crematorium for a private committal.

This will be followed tomorrow by a memorial service at St Mary’s Church in Kington at 1pm.

Anyone wishing to make a donation in Oliver’s name is invited to do so at Raleigh International, United Through Sport or SSFA.

For more information on arrangements, contact Oak Tree Funeral Services on 01544 327829.

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