Drummer Lee Rigby may be honoured with funeral at Southwark Cathedral as a 'fitting' tribute to his life

  • London's Southwark Cathedral can accommodate up to 1,500 people
  • Funeral is likely to be in two to three weeks given the criminal investigation

By Mark Nichol, Helen Nugent and Nick Craven

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His brutal death outraged Britain, but Woolwich murder victim Drummer Lee Rigby may be honoured with a funeral at Southwark Cathedral, it emerged last night.

The young soldier’s shockingly brutal death  has brought calls for the celebration of his life to be a fitting tribute, and it is expected that hundreds of his friends and comrades will want to bid him farewell.

Southwark, because of its size and proximity to 25-year-old Lee’s barracks in Woolwich, would be ‘an appropriate and fitting venue for such an occasion,’ said a church source.

Victim: Lee Rigby, 25, was yesterday named as the victim of the Woolwich knife attack

Victim: Lee Rigby, 25, the victim of the Woolwich knife attack

Such a large ceremony would provide a poignant illustration of the nation’s support for the soldier who was knifed to death last week.

With so many of his comrades, friends and relatives wanting to attend Lee’s funeral, a large church will needed and 1,500 mourners could fit inside Southwark Cathedral, believed to be the capital’s oldest, dating back to 606AD.

 

But Lee’s family from Manchester – mother Lyn and and stepfather Ian - will of course have the final say along with his wife Rebecca. 

His parents live in Middleton , Manchester. But the city’s cathedral cannot be used due to restoration work taking place there.

Southwark Cathedral, London's oldest cathedral, may host Lee Rigby's funeral

Tribute: Southwark Cathedral, London's oldest cathedral, may host Lee Rigby's funeral

Last night, they were still coming to terms with his tragic death just yards from the barracks.
The service is likely to take place in two to three weeks, given the criminal investigation into his death.

A military funeral, with soldiers from Lee’s unit - the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers mounting a guard of honour, would be arranged by the Army Chaplaincy Service.

His colleagues from the 2nd Battalion, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, are planning a poignant cermonial tribute to their fallen comrade - a drumhead ceremony which dates back to the Battle of Waterloo.

The ceremony, which is rarely performed, involves hundreds of personnel gathering on a parade square. One by one the drummers march in single file to the middle of the square and place their drums on the ground.

The bass drum is placed at the back with the smaller drums in front. Rifles are then placed against the drums and the regimental colours are draped over the top. Regimental pipers then play the Last Post.

Floral tributes outside the main gate of the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich

Mourning: Floral tributes outside the main gate of the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich

A man contemplates at a scene where flowers lay

Tears: A man puts down flowers at the scene where Lee Rigby died in Woolwich

A Fusiliers’ source said: ‘This is the most appropriate tribute we can put on for Lee, given the time he spent in the band. The drumhead ceremony has been performed in the same fashion for centuries and according to strict guidelines.

‘From a distance the drums and flags look like an altar. Hundreds of years ago the drumhead ceremony was performed on the battlefield as soldiers fallen in combat were lowered into the earth. Today it remains a deeply moving occasion.’

A time and venue for the Fusiliers’ drumhead ceremony is yet to decided but The Mail on Sunday understands that Lee’s family will be invited to attend.

Meanwhile, calls for a minute’s silence across Britain next week at the time when he was killed were growing last night.

On social media network Twitter people from all backgrounds demanded that their employers allow them to pay their respects to the tragic soldier next Wednesday afternoon.

The deep emotions stirred by Afghan veteran Lee’s death in such appalling circumstances were clear to see yesterday as thousands of bouquets and floral tributes built up at the site where he was hacked to death.

While a backlash of anger has been apparent in many areas of the country following Drummer Rigby’s murder, at the spot where it happened, comments were mostly confined to paying tribute to a fallen son and offering comfort to his loved ones.

A steady stream of well-wishers added to the hundreds of flowers left at the corner of John Wilson Street, where three days earlier the 25-year-old father-of-one died at the hands of two suspected terrorists.

In one heartfelt message, a picture of Drummer Rigby with his two-year-old son Jack was pinned to the railings, with the caption “Daddy and his little soldier! R.I.P Lee”.

28 year-old Michael Adebolajo was filmed with blood on his hands after Lee Rigby was stabbed to death

Knife attack: 28 year-old Michael Adebolajo was filmed with blood on his hands after Lee Rigby was stabbed to death

Union and St George’s flags were draped among the flowers, while a number of Manchester United football shirts were on display to recognise the young man’s lifelong support for the club.
Emotions were clearly still raw when a young woman broke down in tears as she arrived to see the sea of flowers.

Wearing a green hoodie, she sobbed and wiped tears from her eyes with a tissue as she read messages of condolence left for Drummer Rigby.

She was surrounded by more than a dozen friends and family members, many of whom appeared visibly upset.

A peaceful march was also held in the area by members of the Nigerian community in an attempt to distance themselves from the two murder suspects whose roots lie in the West African country.
Nigerian Kanbi Ojelade, 50, was among those paying their respects today, along with his two sons, Umran, 10, and Feranmi, 11, who both live in Woolwich.

Mr Ojelade, who lives in Colchester, said: ‘I brought them here to realise people are responsible for their freedom, safety, their welfare and development.

‘The ultimate price anyone can pay is to give his life for others.’

Royal British Legion member Charles Clayton, 66, said he believed the Government could have done more to identify the terror suspects earlier.

‘He shouldn’t be forgotten,’ Mr Clayton said.

‘It demonstrates the society we now live in. I blame the Government for allowing this to go unchecked which puts us all at risk.’

Scores of motorcyclists supporting the Help For Heroes charity – whose teeshirt which Lee was wearing may have singled him out as a victim - rode past the scene yesterday in a show of support for Drummer Rigby’s family.



The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Where is our freedom of speech when this is the only article we are allowed to comment on .. the rest are 'not accepting comments for legal reasons' .. why, because these cowards can say what they like .. we taxpayers are apparently not allowed to respond!!!!

Click to rate     Rating   107

overboard he was a local boy and should have a local funeral, St Alfeges in Greenwich is perfectly a good Church to do this in and local people can attend.- Phunkey, London, United Kingdom, 26/5/2013 7:02 Where did you get that from? Like it says in the article, he was from Middleton, in Manchester.

Click to rate     Rating   51

Anybody that goes to a foreign country to kill people should be killed on the spot. This applies to foreigners who come to england to kill people, and also to english people who go to foreign countries to kill people.

Click to rate     Rating   113

This is a tragic death but so are all the deaths of soldiers killed on duty and they don't get 'honoured' with a cathedral funeral.

Click to rate     Rating   60

Sorry Phunkey,London you are wrong. The funeral if iit is held any where local should be held in the Garrison Church in Woolwich. That is the Church for the barricks. He was not a local boy, he came from Manchester, surly his family should have a say in where the service should take place.

Click to rate     Rating   43

What happened to this poor soldier is incredibly sad, but it does sound as if he had a very complicated love life with a wife and son in the UK and a fiancee in Afghanistan. The funeral will be a very difficult time for all of them.

Click to rate     Rating   45

Yesterday this soldier had a wife now it appears he has a fiancee. I mean no disrespect but I am confused and will they both be attending the funeral?

Click to rate     Rating   29

Considering he probably had no religion to have any sort of religious service would be totally hypocritical. Have a memorial service in Manchester. Everyone needs to step back from the overkill this is getting. This soldiers death was indeed tragic but is no less tragic than the soldiers actually killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Click to rate     Rating   56

No. I suspect it will turn into a media circus.Only his family can make the right choice.

Click to rate     Rating   34

I haven't read all of this article yet, have only gotten thus far, which induced tears: "The ceremony, which is rarely performed, involves hundreds of personnel gathering on a parade square. One by one the drummers march in single file to the middle of the square and place their drums on the ground. The bass drum is placed at the back with the smaller drums in front. Rifles are then placed against the drums and the regimental colours are draped over the top. Regimental pipers then play the Last Post." I am all for a military extravaganza of a funeral. I sincerely hope Drummer Rigby's family are not 'persuaded', by the powers that be, to keep it 'low key and/or private' - so as not to 'offend' Muslim communities!! Onlookers should wear 'help for heroes' hoodies, with 'in solidarity' printed on the back. (No matter the weather).

Click to rate     Rating   79
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