An old soldier had a military send-off with a full church thanks to the power of the internet.
The funeral of George Ford, 90, of Ellesmere Port, which took place at St Paul’s, Hooton on Monday, could have been a quiet affair.
In his later years Mr Ford, who was very proud of his lifetime’s army career, had no nearby family apart from faithful sister-in-law Kathleen Friday, who kept on visiting him at The Court Nursing Home, Rock Ferry, in his final months.
But thanks to a comment by Cheshire Regiment Association member Tom Simkins, of Ellesmere Port, and social media, the church was full to recognise the service of the Second World War veteran to his country.
A guard from the 2nd Battalion, the Mercian Regiment, was also on hand.
More far-flung family travelled to the service from Kent, where Mr Ford grew up before moving to Ellesmere Port in 1947.
Mr Ford had been posted to Chester by the Army and it was there where he met his future wife Josie. They married in July 1947 and remained together until Josie passed away in 2002.
Sister-in-law Kathleen Friday said: “I would like to thank everyone who turned up to the service, and also thanks to the staff at The Court Nursing Home for their care, they were wonderful.”
The service was led by the Rev Keith Howard and attended by the mayor of Ellesmere Port, Brian Jones.
“I thought it important the mayor should go,” said Cllr Jones.
Mourners were greeted by standards from the Royal British Legion and the Cheshire Regiment Association and Mr Ford’s coffin was wrapped in the union flag.
Lindsey Letman, who runs long-established stationers Leigh & Co on Station Road, Ellesmere Port, took to social media when she discovered from Mr Simkins that few were expected to attend the funeral.
She also contacted the Mercians at The Dale camp in Chester.
“I suggest if you can find the time to pay your respects it should be done,” she said on Facebook.
“This soldier should have a send-off from the younger generation, let’s show our respect to this hero.”
Lindsey explained she had thought the Mercians might attend if she asked them as Mr Ford was a wartime veteran.
“The basic idea was it was sad no-one would be there, that’s why I took into my mind to rally the people so to speak.”
She said the family had been ‘overwhelmed’ by the service.
“Thank you all so much for taking the time to come to pay respects today,” she added.
Mr Simkins said: “I want to thank you but thanks just does not cover what you did for us Lindsey, the power of the net eh? Thanks to all who turned up, that includes the two lads from London who set off this morning at a silly hour to be here.”
Others described the service as ‘absolutely lovely’ and ‘moving’ and commented ‘it was great to see so many in attendance both young and old.”
Borough councillor Paul Donovan simply posted: “Stand down sir, your duty here is done. RIP.”