It was standing room only yesterday at the funeral of Northern Ireland-based security contractor Simon Chase, who was killed in Afghanistan.
Hundreds attended Christ Church, Limavady, where an address was given for the former member of the Royal Irish Regiment, who was among more than 20 killed in a Taliban attack on a restaurant in Kabul.
The service for the slain 41-year-old saw the Anglican church overspill its 400-or-so capacity, and the proceedings had to be relayed by speaker to a crowd standing outside in the cold shortly after 11am.
Mr Chase was originally from Chester, about 15 miles south of Liverpool, but had lived in Limavady since the mid-90s and was described as “an adopted son” of the Co Londonderry town by curate Jason Kernohan in his address yesterday.
There was an eclectic array of music too, ranging from the hymn Amazing Grace to Hey Jude by the Beatles.
The curate said: “It’s not often we get such a large attendance at funerals, but obviously under such tragic circumstances the church was packed to capacity,” adding that even before they left for church, residents had “lined up on the streets” in his honour.
Mr Chase had been working for the EU police mission to Afghanistan when he was killed in the bomb-and-gun attack on January 17, and the address in memory of him yesterday read in part: “Simon’s calling in life was a dangerous one yet one that he was totally dedicated to. He was brave and courageous in all that he set out to do.
“This powerful example of bravery and courage is a testimony to his love of his fellow human beings, and this love is the purist of all. It is the Christ-like example of love in action.”
A former member of the Cheshire Regiment (which he joined when he was aged just 17), and later the Royal Irish, in his post-military life he had found work as a doorman in Limavady. and had also coached at an amateur boxing club in the town.
“It’s not always easy for an Englishman to make his home in Northern Ireland, but his personality and humour made it easy for him to fit in,” said the Rev Kernohan.
Among those grieving his loss were long-time partner Norma and his sons Jake and Alfie, and the Rev Kernohan noted that, as well as the “shock and bewilderment” the death had wrought on the community, “it has left a massive gap in the lives of Norma and the boys”.