LIVE UPDATES: Funeral of murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby, killed in Woolwich ‘terror’ attack

By Emily Wolstencroft & Glen Keogh

The funeral of murdered soldier Drummer Lee Rigby was held in Bury this morning. 

Drummer Rigby was hacked to death on a Woolwich street on May 22, in a suspected ‘terror’ attack, which shocked the nation.

Thousands lined the streets of the town to pay their respects on the route to Bury Parish Church, where the funeral service began at around 11am.

A guard of honour was kept over the body of the father-of-one overnight.

Drummer Rigby served in the 2nd Battalion Regiment of Fusiliers and was killed as he returned to Woolwich barracks from the Tower of London.

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

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.

MM will have live updates from the funeral throughout the day. 

15:15pmChief Superintendent John O’Hare, of Greater Manchester Police, has released a statement regarding Drummer Lee Rigby.

He said: “Over the last two days, thousands of people have lined the streets of Bury, Middleton and Rochdale to pay their final respects to Fusilier Lee Rigby as he was laid to rest. 

“First of all, on behalf of everyone at Greater Manchester Police, I would like to again extend my deepest sympathies to all of Lee’s family for the loss they have suffered and pay tribute to the courage and dignity they have shown over the past few months. 

“Fusilier Lee Rigby was a serving soldier but he was also a local lad and I would like to thank all those people in our communities who came to pay their respects and ensure Lee’s funeral was a respectful and dignified occasion befitting a young man who lost his life serving with Her Majesty’s Armed Forces. 

“Lee’s family have publicly spoken about how the country has united since Lee’s death and I would like to pay particular tribute to the people of Rochdale, Bury and Middleton for the impeccable way they have shown their support for Lee and his family. They have done themselves proud. 

“Greater Manchester Police, the Military and the Local Authorities in Bury and Rochdale all worked together to meet the needs of the family and to ensure Lee’s funeral was observed in a dignified way.

“It was very moving to see the strength of support from the people in our towns.”

11:59am: The family have requested that Drummer Rigby has a private burial, with only family and close friends in attendance. 

Army veteran Richard Fullwood was watching the service from the crowd.

“I thought the service was very moving,” he told MM.

“I think he would have been very proud that all these people had come together to recognise what he’s done.

“It’s also about a reunion of the Fusiliers coming back together again.”

FUNERAL: Drummer Rigby’s coffin is carried from church to applause from crowd

11:48am: Lee Rigby’s body will now be taken from the church. The coffin is carried, draped in a Union Jack flag. 

Drummer Rigby’s young son Jack and widow Rebecca watch as his coffin is placed in a hearse. It will be taken to his hometown of Middleton. 

Crowds show their supporting by applauding the family of Drummer Rigby as they exit the church.

His son Jack seems unaware of the reality of what has just happened.

Family and friends of Lee are emotional, crying outside the church.

11.41am: More words from Rev Clare Callanan’s earlier speech. She said:  “Why does a nation and a community look to and need a hero…?

“We love them because they do things we are unable to do.

“We live in a world where good doesn’t always triumph over evil.

“We live in a world where a young man can walk along the street and be brutally murdered in broad daylight.

“He no longer lives to the beat of that drum.

“He has been separated as a brother, husband, father and a brother in arms.”

Michael O’Briain, 41, from Bury, was in the crowd. “I just think it was outrageous and ridiculous what happened,” he said.

“My nephews just come back from Afghanistan and so I just wanted to come and show my support.

“The service was lovely. Although I was right at the back it was lovely. I think everything ran smoothly.”

FUNERAL: Bury’s streets are packed with crowds paying respects

PAYING RESPECTS: A soldier joins the crowd to mourn

11.39am: A prayer is read by the Rector of Bury, Rev Dr John Findon. A St George’s flag flies at half mast in the summer breeze. 

The Lord’s Prayer is then read, as heads remain bowed in respect. 

11:33am: Rev Clare Callanan reads speech, discussing impact of Drummer Rigby’s murder and how the appalling event will go down in history alongside other shocking crimes. 

She described it as ‘a most significant event in the minds of the nation’, and mentioned the assassination of John F Kennedy and the death of Michael Jackson, as moments in past years which will never be forgotten. 

11:32am: Many pubs and shops surrounding the church in Bury are closed as a sign of respect. 

MUCH-LOVED: Drummer Rigby on duty

11:19am: MM’s Emily Wolstencroft is speaking to those in attendance. Soldier Smith came to show his support. “I’ve come to show my support for another soldier. For being British,” he said. 

“It was heartbreaking. It shouldn’t have happened, especially outside in our own country.”

PROCESSION: Soldiers march through Bury, where funeral is being held

11:18am: Lt Col J W Taylor MBE: “We all feel his loss keenly and will remember him with pride always. Thanks be to God for Lee Rigby. Father husband, brother, son, friend, fusilier. We will remember him.”

11:10am: Hundreds are in attendance outside Bury Parish Church and applaud after each speech.

Lt Col J W Taylor MBE, Fusilier Rigby’s commanding officer speaks. “Even though Lee was fresh-faced and had much to learn he was still able to smile through the challenges and the hardships. Lee moved back to London to conduct ceremonial duties at Windsor Castle and Tower of London. The pace of life was relentless and he loved entertaining crowds outside the Royal palaces. He was widely regarded in the drums platoon as one of the best in the battalion even though he could be mischevious during performances.”

11.07am: Drummer Rigby’s friend Sean Sheer speaks at service. He said: “Lee took to fatherhood instantly and was so proud to be a father. He loved nothing more than his family and would do anything for them. Lee’s time on this earth was tragically cut short. He was a loving father and a devoted husband. Take care up there mate, we will love you and miss you.”

10.50am: Lee Rigby’s two-year-old son Jack is wearing a t-shirt with the words: ‘my Daddy is a hero’.

10.35am: Prime Minister David Cameron has arrived in Bury to pay his respects. 

10.10am: Bury Football Club have announced a minute’s silence for Drummer Lee Rigby before their pre-season game with Sheffield United on Saturday.

A statement from the club said: “Standard bearers from the Fusiliers and the Royal British Legion will march onto the pitch. As the bearers dip their colours, with the last post being played over the PA system, the stadium will fall silent as we pay our respects to Lee.

“We ask that supporters show their respect with us…”

Image courtesy of BBC News player, with thanks. 

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