Big-hearted soldier killed by Taliban ‘a leader in making’

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A TWENTY-year-old soldier killed in Afghanistan was described as a "future leader in the making" as his family and colleagues gathered for his funeral yesterday.

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

The coffin of Rifleman Sheldon Steel (below) is followed by his family led by his mother Victoria (centre) and grandmother Jackie (centre, left) as it is carried out of St Peter's Church, Bramley, Leeds.

The coffin of Rifleman Sheldon Steel (below) is followed by his family led by his mother Victoria (centre) and grandmother Jackie (centre, left) as it is carried out of St Peter's Church, Bramley, Leeds.

He has been described as a soldier with a "big heart".

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

Yesterday his coffin, draped with a Union Flag, was carried into St Peter's Church in Bramley, Leeds.

His mother, Victoria, followed behind with his brother, Kameron, and his sisters Cody and Carys.

Rifleman Sheldon Steel

Rifleman Sheldon Steel

Speaking outside, Major Matt Helsby, of 5 Rifles, said: "It's a real loss for the regimental family but more so for his family."

The officer said he was “someone with immense skill who already stood out above his peers”.

Major Helsby added: “He was physically robust.

“ He was intellectually above his peers. He was a future leader in the making and a very sad loss."

The funeral of Sheldon Steel, at the St Peters Church, Bramley, Leeds..15th December 2011 Picture by Simon Hulme

The funeral of Sheldon Steel, at the St Peters Church, Bramley, Leeds..15th December 2011 Picture by Simon Hulme

Rifleman Steel has been described as a skilled marksman and had proven to be "one of the stars of his company".

His family have said: "He was a big lad – all 6ft 4in of him –with a big heart."

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

His death took the number of British troops who had died in Afghanistan since 2001 to 390.