Preston gives war veteran a hero’s send off

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Scores of people attended the funeral of a veteran they never knew – after it was feared he was going to be buried with no family or friends present.

Following a rallying cry from worried care home staff there was standing room only at Preston Crematorium yesterday afternoon for the funeral of 102-year-old John Beardwood.

The funeral of war veteran John Beardwood

The funeral of war veteran John Beardwood

Mr Beardwood, a former member of the Royal Artillery Regiment, had been living at Preston Glades Care Home in Ribbleton for around 20 years and passed away earlier this month.

His funeral was held on what would have been his 103rd birthday with strangers packed into the crematorium for the service.

Staff at the home know little of Mr Beardwood’s family life, but it is understood the only living relatives he has live outside of the county and were unable to attend.

The home contacted the Preston and District Veterans Council and from then information about the funeral was posted on social media, online and in the Evening Post.

WAR VETERAN: John Beardwood, 102, pictured with his medals, was given a hero's farewell

WAR VETERAN: John Beardwood, 102, pictured with his medals, was given a hero's farewell

Standard Bearer, Stuart Dagger who had been heavily involved in getting people to turn out said: “I am happy with the number of people who have turned out. I didn’t want him going on his own - it’s not right.

“No one should do on their own, especially not a veteran.

“It just goes to show, the good old British Bull Dog Spirit is alive and well.”

Preston folk lined up outside the crematorium waiting for the hearse to arrive to give Mr Beardwood a fitting send off.

British Legion Bikers also attended and saluted as the hearse arrived at the crematorium.

As the coffin, draped in a Union Jack flag was carried from the car, a bugle was played.

Around 100 people attended the service, which saw nurse Cate Robinson from the care home read a eulogy. She told mourners she couldn’t tell them of his family life, but said he had been “passionate” about the British Armed Forces.

Cate rhymed off historic events that happened in Mr Beardwood’s lifetime including the two World Wars, women getting the vote and the sinking of the Titanic.

She concluded with the reading of the poem ‘He is Gone’ which was followed by a round of applause.

The service ended with the song ‘We’ll meet again’ by Vera Lynn.

In 1999 Mr Beardwood appeared in the Lancashire Evening Post after being reunited with his war medals.

He had been unsure what had happened to them after moving into the home but they were tracked down to his solicitor and sent to Fulwood Barracks to be fitted with new ribbons and be mounted in a display case.

He had been awarded his medals after six years of wartime service, three of them behind Japanese lines during the Second World War.

Speaking after the funeral, care assistant Amy Hughes, who looked after Mr Beardwood for seven years, said he would be “proud” of the turnout.

She said: “This is absolutely amazing, he would be really made up to see all these people.

“We asked for help and ended up with this amazing response.”

The 24-year-old said: “He went downhill towards the end but at the beginning he was very happy, a gentleman. He would always wear a suit and tie.

“He was very caring and glad to see you in the morning.

“He suffered dementia for a long time, but was always smiling.”