Funeral For "Big Hearted" Leeds Soldier

The family and friends of a Leeds soldier with a "big heart'' who was killed in Afghanistan have gathered for his funeral.

Rifleman Sheldon Steel, from 5th Battalion The Rifles, was killed by an explosion in Helmand province while on foot patrol.

The 20-year-old was caught in the blast from an improvised explosive device in Babaji, in the Lashkar Gah district, on November 27.

He was described as a skilled marksman and had proven to be "one of the stars of his company''.

In a statement, his family, from Leeds, said: "Sheldon was loving, caring and affectionate with his family and we all heard from him regularly. He loved being in the Army from when he was in the Army Cadets to joining 5 Rifles.

"He was a big lad - all 6ft 4in of him - with a big heart. Words cannot explain how much he will be missed by us all.''

The Rifleman had recently won the coveted title Top Dog for winning a contest in his battalion.

Rifleman Steel joined the Army in November 2009 and underwent his combat training at the Infantry Training Centre in Catterick, North Yorkshire, before he passed out in April 2010 and shortly afterwards joined 5 Rifles.

His funeral took place at St Peter's Church, Hough Lane, Bramley, Leeds earlier.