“Our hearts have been ripped apart.”
These were the words uttered by Lee Rigby’s stepfather today as the family faced cameras for the first time since Wednesday’s appalling events.
The victim, named yesterday as 25-year-old Drummer Lee Rigby, was brutally killed by two men in South East London on Wednesday.
The two alleged terrorists, named as Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale, have since been arrested.
At the service today his wife Rebecca said: “I just want to say that I love Lee and always will and I’m proud to be his wife.
“He was due to come up this weekend so we could continue our future as a family, he was a devoted father to Jack and we’ll miss him terribly.
In a press conference statement, stepfather Ian Rigby said: “What can we say about Lee, our hero? We are so proud of Lee. When he was born the family adored him, he was a precious gift,” he said.
“His dream was always to join the army which he succeeded in doing, he was very much a family man looking out for his wife, his son Jack and sisters.
“Our hearts have been ripped apart and everyone is struggling to cope with this tragedy.
“Sleep well young solider, your job is done. Your war is over, your battle done. Our family chain is broken and nothing is the same. As God takes us one by one our chain will link again.”
‘FAMILY MAN’: Drummer Lee Rigby, murdered in Woolwich
Family and friends of the serviceman attended a prayer service in Middleton this morning.
More than 30 people attended the prayer service held at the All Saints and Martyr’s Burnside Community Centre in Lee Rigby’s hometown of Middleton.
Community activists have also urged local residents to fly Union flags across the Langley estate, the area in which he grew up.
Police searched six homes on Thursday in connection to the incident – five in London, and one in Saxilby, Lincolnshire.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg defended the Muslim community while speaking at a multi-faith event in Islington, North London this morning.
Mr Clegg said: “Over the last few days London has shown itself at its best – an unbreakable city once again refusing to bow to hatred and violence.
“An unspeakable act has been conducted in their name. Yet while this has provoked feelings of frustration and anger – it flies in the face of the peace and love that Islam teaches – Muslim organisations, Mosques, Imams and community leaders have responded with a call for unity and calm. They have set an example for us all.”
Drummer Rigby was wearing a Help for Heroes t-shirt when he was knifed down near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich.
The charity released a statement this morning saying they have been ‘overwhelmed’ by support.
The statement said: “Since the tragic news emerged that a serving soldier had been murdered in Woolwich, we have been overwhelmed with people spontaneously choosing to show their support for the Armed Forces.
“Help for Heroes was born out of a simple desire to assist the wounded and that remains unchanged. All funds we receive are used to provide direct, practical support to those affected by their service to our country.
“We ask all our volunteers, fundraisers and donors to respect the victim’s family, colleagues and friends who are grieving.”
A fund-raising page has since been set up, receiving more than £14,000 in some 100 donations.
Meanwhile, Chief Constable of Greater Manchester Police Sir Peter Fahy told the BBC he disagreed with the decision taken by broadcasters to show video footage of the attack.
The two attackers were clearly visible in the footage, one with bloodied hands holding a machete.
Sir Peter said this is exactly what the attackers would have wanted, and it could incite copycat incidents.
Image courtesy of BBC News, via iPlayer, with thanks.