UK
12/07/2013 08:28 BST | Updated 11/09/2013 06:12 BST

Lee Rigby Funeral: Son Pays Tribute To 'My Daddy My Hero' (PICTURES)

The young son of Lee Rigby paid tribute to "My Daddy My Hero" as thousands of mourners gathered to remember the murdered soldier.

Members of the public applauded Fusilier Rigby's comrades and forces veterans as they arrived for the funeral service at Bury Parish Church, where comrades had maintained a guard of honour overnight.

Applause also greeted the 25-year-old's heartbroken loved ones, who joined about 800 mourners inside for the private service just a couple of miles from his home town of Middleton, Greater Manchester.

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Jack Rigby embraced by his mother at the funeral

Fusilier Rigby's wife Rebecca, 30, walked in with the couple's two-year-old son Jack, who wore a blue T-shirt with the words "My Daddy My Hero" on the back.

On the front of Jack Rigby's T-shirt were the words: "My Daddy's A Fusilier. Lee Rigby."

Lee's mother Lyn, 46, was in tears as she held hands with her husband, Ian, 54, Lee's stepfather. The soldier's sisters, Sara, 24, and Chelsea, 21, embraced each other in tears outside the church.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who told the Commons earlier this week that the whole of the UK will be mourning with the family, was among dignitaries attending the service. He arrived with London Mayor Boris Johnson to a ripple of applause.

Fusilier Rigby, a drummer in the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (2RRF), was killed as he returned to Woolwich barracks in south east London from the Tower of London on May 22.

He had served in Afghanistan as a machine gunner and was attached to the regimental recruiting team when he was hacked to death in broad daylight in the street.

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Lee Rigby's son wore a t-shirt paying tribute to his father

The horrific killing sparked nationwide shock and revulsion and led to an outpouring of support for his family from the public.

The family, who have been inundated with cards, letters and flowers in condolence from all over the country and abroad and from all faiths, wanted a private service, with well-wishers asked to show their respects by lining the streets outside, where they will hear the service on loudspeakers from inside the church.

The town of Bury, which has strong links to the Army, was full of old and not-so-old former soldiers in their regimental ties, blazers and caps, proudly wearing their campaign medals.

In his eulogy, Fusilier Rigby's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor, said: "Fusilier Lee James Rigby, or Riggers to his friends in the Army, was an extremely popular soldier. A larger-than-life personality, he loved to perform and belonged in the Second Fusiliers' Corps of Drums. He was truly charismatic.

"To be with Lee was to be where it was most fun - the centre of good times and much mischief.

"People fell quickly under his spell. Whether it was in work or off duty, at a ceremonial engagement or on operations, Lee just knew how to lighten the mood.

"He could brighten a room within moments and, by all accounts, clear a dancefloor in seconds if a Whitney Houston track was playing.

"He was always happy. His smile was infectious, as was his enthusiasm for soldiering and his passion for life."

Ending his eulogy, the commanding officer said: "Today we, his regimental family, salute a fallen comrade. A talented soldier and musician. A larger-than-life character. A loyal friend and brother-in-arms. A gentle soul.

"Today we stand shoulder to shoulder with his family and friends. We will continue to do so in the years to come.

"So, thanks be to God for Lee Rigby - father, husband, son, brother, friend, Fusilier.

"We will remember him."