6:04am Friday 18th May 2012
IT was a fitting sendoff for a Hampshire hero who died after suffering injuries in a bomb blast in Afghanistan on the eve of his 21st birthday.
Dozens of family members, friends and veterans from the Royal British Legion paid their last respects to Sapper Connor Ray at a moving service at St Mary’s Church in Bishopstoke.
The church fell silent as a standard bearer from the Eastleigh and Chandler’s Ford Royal British Legion marked the start of the service.
Loved ones wept and at times laughed as memories of Sapper Ray were highlighted by Rev Richard Wise.
He spoke of Sapper Ray’s close bond with his big brother Vinnie and how their sisters were often victim to their practical jokes.
The most poignant moment came when a poem written by Sapper Ray’s youngest sister Bonnie was read out.
The 16-yearold wrote: “A million times I needed you, a million times I cried, if love alone could have saved you, you never would have died.”
It ended: “I never thought I’d be sat here so young, at such a wonderful brother’s service but sleep tight Con. From your youngest baby sister.”
Both his sisters Bonnie and Hollie, 17, were comforted by their aunt Eileen as they walked out of the church to Eye of the Tiger – a favourite song of the 1980s music fan.
Sapper Ray’s funeral with full military honours took place last week in Newport – where his family moved when he was 11.
The soldier of 33 Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) was fatally injured during a search and clearance operation in Helmand Province.
n To donate to the family’s appeal for Help for Heroes log on to bmycharity.com/ConnorRay.
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