The people of Corby turned out in their hundreds this week to pay their respects to Lance Corporal James Ashworth, the young hero who died in action in Afghanistan.
The service, held at Our Lady’s Church, in Occupation Road, on Tuesday combined the ceremony of a military funeral, deserving of a serviceman who lost his life trying to protect others, and the warmth and love of a family farewell.
Lance Corporal Ashworth, 23, a former pupil at Lodge Park Technology College, Corby, died in Helmand Province on June 13, while on patrol with the Reconnaissance Platoon of the Ist Battalion Grenadier Guards.
Today the packed church was silent as the Band of the Grenadier Guards played before the start of the service and family, friends, former classmates and comrades remembered the outstanding courage of a young man who served with distinction.
Young guardsmen in their red tunics carried the coffin, draped in the Union Flag, into the church, followed by Lance Corporal James Ashworth’s family, his mum Kerry, dad Duane, sisters Lauren and Paige, brothers Coran and Karl, and girlfriend Emily.
Tributes were paid to the young servicemen by friends and Army comrades, David Miller, Nick Fairhurst and Lance Corporal Richard Ball.
But it was the moving words, spoken by Lance Corporal Ashworth’s brother Coran, 21, who is serving with the Army in Northern Ireland, that summed up the pride of his family, Corby and the country.
He said: “Try not to feel sad. Feel proud of a fine young man. James will never be forgotton. He will be in our hearts forever and we will always love him.
“The last few weeks have been hard for my family but as we came here today we were so proud of the support of the people of Corby. The compassion they have shown us has been tremendous.”
Coran said his brother’s life had been cut short but that he had had no regrets. He spoke lovingly of Lance Corporal Ashworth’s girlfriend Emily and said they had been a beautiful couple.
David Miller, Lance Corporal Ashworth’s friend, said: “James was an inspiration and I was so proud to have him as my best friend.”
During the service, conducted by Canon Michael Griffiths and attended by dozens of senior officers, servicemen and ex-servicemen from the Grenadier Guards and the Irish Guards, mourners listened to music by the regimental band and to the song Mr Bojangles.
After the Regimental Collect, or prayer, the hymn Jerusalem was sung and The Last Post was played, followed by a minute’s silence and Reveille.
The funeral procession left the church, after the National Anthem, to the haunting sound of The Grenadier’s Return, played by a flautist and drummer from the regimental band.
Guardsmen fired a three-volley salute and the many representatives of Royal British Legion branches who attended the service lowered their standards in respect.
As the cortege left the church for a private family service at Kettering Crematorium, the hundreds of residents who lined Occupation Road applauded Corby’s young hero James. Pictures from James Ashworth’s funeral