MORE than a thousand people gathered at Sheffield Cathedral yesterday for the funeral of 20-year-old Trooper James Leverett, who died in an explosion in Afghanistan earlier this month.
Among the mourners was his heavily-pregnant girlfriend, Tiffany Lound, due to give birth to a baby boy in September.
Trooper Leverett, of the Royal Dragoon Guards Viking Group, D (The Green Horse) Squadron, died when an explosion rocked the Viking armoured vehicle he was travelling in in Helmand Province on Monday, July 5.
The soldier from Rawmarsh, Rotherham, had left a letter to Miss Lound, 18, to be opened if he died, telling her "Don't cry. Just put all your energy into bringing up our baby."
The service heard Trooper Leverett, after whom the baby will be named, was "delighted" at hearing he was to become a father.
As the solder's coffin, draped in a Union Flag and adorned with his cap, belt, a red wreath and medals, entered the cathedral, Missing You by P Diddy echoed out around the building – a song chosen by the 20-year-old in a letter to his family.
The Dean of Sheffield, Peter Bradley, said: "We remember him as a soldier who served our community and our country.
"On the other side there is a different photograph of James, showing him as a son, a brother and a friend, and we remember him today for the joy and hope which he brought us."
Prior to the service Trooper Leverett's mother, Sharon Leverett, said: "I don't think this was ever our war in the first place. But they're out there. They're doing their best and we've just got to support them in that.There's too many families going through what I'm going through. I do think we shouldn't be there."
The bodies of two soldiers killed in Afghanistan Corporal Matthew James Stenton, from Wakefield, and Lance Corporal Stephen Daniel Monkhouse, from Greenock, Inverclyde, were also repatriated to RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire yesterday. They died saving a wounded comrade.
Defence Secretary Liam Fox said: "Cpl Stenton was a tenacious soldier and a role model for the younger men in his unit. L/Cpl Monkhouse was a talented drummer as well as highly valued soldier who clearly had a bright future ahead of him."
nWatch Sharon Leverett interviewed online at yorkshirepost.co.uk/video