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Skipton comes to a standstill for hero soldier Gareth Thursby
People turned out in their thousands to say “goodbye and thank you for your sacrifice” to a soldier who was shot dead by a rogue Afghan policeman.
Sergeant Gareth Thursby, described as a man of courage and compassion, was killed on September 15 in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand, just six days before his 30th birthday.
His funeral took place at Holy Trinity Church, Skipton, on Friday and the route was lined with people, ten deep along High Street. The cortege arrived at the church to the sound a tolling bell and the ripple of applause to honour the soldier who was shot by a man he believed needed his help.
The former South Craven School student, who leaves a wife Louise and two children, Joshua and Ruby, was called “dad” by the younger colleagues in his battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment. He was a father figure because of his care and compassion and selfless love.
He was described by his senior officers as representing everything the regiment stood for because of his professionalism, strength of character and moral courage. Despite the bitter cold, people gathered outside the church to listen to the service, which was relayed by loudspeaker, and heard Major Malcolm Birkett, officer commanding rear operations Group 3 Yorks, read the eulogy.
He said Louise still found it hard to believe in Gareth’s death because of the sense of invincibility he always gave out. Apart from his family, his job and “his lads” meant so much to him.
“He was a great husband and we were looking forward to making plans for years to come. Sadly, he has been taken from us,” she said.
“We have our memories and there are many good ones. He might be gone but he will always be with us wherever we go.”
His mum, Caroline, said that throughout her grief she had always felt proud of her son who was nicknamed “the bull” because of his determination and strength of character.
After the service, the cortege moved on to Waltonwrays in Skipton for the cremation service.