Hundreds Turn Out For Stranger's Funeral

More than 200 strangers attended the funeral in Portsmouth of a former Royal Marine - after a vicar put out a plea on Facebook, amid fears he would be buried without mourners.

James McConnell died last month at the age of 70 and staff at his care home in Southsea thought they would be the only people at his funeral as he didn't have any close family.

But after Reverend Bob Mason posted a message on Facebook and contacted the Royal Marines Association, hundreds of people braved the cold to attend the ceremony at Milton Cemetery.

A small procession through the cemetery was led by Royal British Legion standard bearers followed by a group of flag-bearing motorcycles.

The service concluded with two buglers from the Royal Marines Band Service playing the Last Post.

Mr Mason said to the congregation: ''The great majority of you who have come here today did not know James McConnell but wanted him to have a dignified farewell.

I thank you for that kindness and generosity of spirit.''

Danny Marshall, a former Royal Marine, said he attended because the corps was an extended family.

He said: ''It was mentioned wrongly that he did not have family; the corps family is bigger and better and than most people would know about.

We are all family and always will be.''

The message posted on Facebook by Mr Mason read: ''It is tragic enough that anyone has to leave this world with no-one to mourn their passing.

I am sure you will agree he deserves a better send-off.''

As well as attending the funeral, some people have also donated money for flowers.

Funeral For Former Royal Marine

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