Readers rally to ensure Leeds war veteran gets fitting send off

Army veteran Stewart Cooney.
Army veteran Stewart Cooney.
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Kind-hearted readers have offered their services to give a brave army veteran the send off he deserves.

Yorkshire Post Newspapers issued a call for people to ensure that 92-year-old Stewart Cooney, who served as a gunner in the Second World War, is not laid to rest without well-wishers by his grave side.

Army veteran Stewart Cooney.

Army veteran Stewart Cooney.

Mr Cooney recently passed away at Colton Lodges Nursing Home in Leeds but fears soon emerged that he could face a lonely funeral as he has no family to mourn his death.

Following the appeal, well-wishers have pledged to attend the ceremony, while The Royal British Legion (RBL) has offered to provide standard bearers to mark his military service.

Leeds-based people finding firm FinderMonkey has also offered to search for any distant relatives in time for them to attend his funeral.

An RBL spokeswoman said: “It was with sadness we learnt of Mr Cooney’s passing.

“The Royal British Legion Leeds Central Branch will attend Mr Cooney’s funeral with standard bearers to provide a guard of honour in recognition of his military service.”

On Facebook, Twitter and the YEP website, readers have offered their condolences and support, with many offering to attend the service.

Margaret Hurle commented: “He fought for our country, bless him, love and prayers to those who cared for this young man in his later life. God bless him.”

Maurits Van’t Hof said: “Thanks for fighting for our freedom. From the Dutch people.”

Bobby Tame wrote on the YEP’s Facebook page: “This is so sad at least he’s not alone now.”

It is believed that Mr Cooney trained as a jute weaver before marrying Betty Simpson from Barnsley in 1943 – the same year that he joined the army.

His wife was in the same regiment and after the war the pair settled in Leeds.

It is also believed that Mr Cooney was a former sergeant in the Royal Artillery and was a prisoner of war in Malaysia.

A funeral service will be held at Rawdon Crematorium on July 22 at 12.20pm, followed by a burial at Pudsey Cemetery at 1.30pm.