Thank you Leeds: Hundreds turn out to give war veteran send off he deserves

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HUNDREDS gathered to honour a Second World War hero from Leeds after fears were raised that just a handful of mourners would be at his funeral service.

Former servicemen joined members of the public at a packed Rawdon Crematorium for a service celebrating the life of 95-year-old Troop Sergeant Major Stewart Cooney.

PIC: Tony Johnson

PIC: Tony Johnson

Mr Cooney, who served as a gunner in the Second World War, recently passed away at BUPA run Colton Lodges Nursing Home in east Leeds.

Dougie Eastwood, area trainer for BUPA Care Services, feared few would be at the funeral and asked for help from Mr Cooney’s former army unit – 269 Battery of the Royal Artillery at Carlton Gate, Leeds.

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An appeal for people to attend the funeral, which was backed by the YEP, went viral on social media and people tracing service Finder Monkey offered to help find Mr Cooney’s family.

PIC: SWNS

PIC: SWNS

The search was a success and Mr Cooney’s sisters Margaret Ashcroft, 78, and Helen Walker, 84, were among long lost family members at the funeral.

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

And dozens of bikers from the Yorkshire Riders motorcycle Club took part in the funeral cortege.

Buglers sounded the last post as Mr Cooney was laid to rest at Pudsey Cemetery.

PIC: Tony Johnson

PIC: Tony Johnson

Family celebrant Lynda Gomersall told mourners: “I am humbled and deeply moved that so many people have come here today to make sure this honourable gentleman is remembered and his life celebrated in such a fitting way.”

A number of YEP readers pledged to attend the funeral service after an appeal was published earlier this month.

Mr Cooney was a former sergeant in the Royal Artillery and fought in a number of theatres of war with his anti-tank unit, including the Battle of Monte Casino in Italy in 1944.

After the war Mr Cooney worked in a weaving mill at Farsley near Pudsey.

PIC: Tony Johnson

PIC: Tony Johnson

Army veteran Stewart Cooney

Army veteran Stewart Cooney

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