Ex-servicemen pull together to arrange funeral for Ipswich veteran who died alone
PUBLISHED: 06:00 22 February 2020
Former servicemen in Suffolk have pulled together to hold a funeral for a fellow soldier who died alone in Ipswich.
Andrew 'Paddy McGowan' Devine served in Northern Ireland during The Troubles in the 80s and 90s as part of five platoon, 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment - also known as The Vikings.
The 53-year-old had settled in Ipswich in recent years from his home town of Lincoln and passed away after a bout of ill health in the New Year.
He was due to be given a welfare funeral - or a 'paupers funeral' - by the local authority before the Felixstowe branch of the Royal British Legion was asked to step in.
Tony Botterill served with Paddy after meeting him during their training in June 1983 and remained close with him, speaking to him just weeks before he died.
"He was an absolutely mischievous boy he was," he recalled.
"Always looking for excitement and fun as well as being a great solider, but he'd fallen on hard times in recent years."
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He had taken and passed a forklift driving test in a bid to secure work but his health had declined in recent months.
Darren Marsh was another member of The Vikings who served with Paddy in Londonderry and remembered him as "larger than life".
"He was a fantastic bloke and what we know as a serious soldier - so any new guys coming in he would take them under his wing and help them out.
"Paddy had some trouble getting back on his feet after the army and I think he just got a bit lost in it all."
Darren, Tony and their fellow colleagues are now all attending the funeral which has turned into a reunion of sorts for the self proclaimed "band of brothers".
David Button, who owns a funeral directors in Felixstowe, has agreed to hold the funeral free of charge as he is also a former Viking and wanted to help with Paddy's send off.
The service, led by Reverend Anthony Dotchin, will be held at Ipswich Crematorium on Monday March 9 starting at 1.15pm, after a motorbike procession from Felixstowe which will be setting off at midday.
All are welcome at the funeral and the wake which will then be held at the Army Reserve Centre in Ipswich.