Hundreds gather to mourn Sharron

AROUND 400 people today gathered to pay tribute to former Suffolk soldier Sharron Elliott, who was killed in Iraq.The moving hour-long funeral service for the 34-year-old Staff Sergeant who grew up in Ipswich and Hadleigh was held at noon in South Shields, South Tyneside.

AROUND 400 people today gathered to pay tribute to former Suffolk soldier Sharron Elliott, who was killed in Iraq.

The moving hour-long funeral service for the 34-year-old Staff Sergeant who grew up in Ipswich and Hadleigh was held at noon in South Shields, South Tyneside.

Miss Elliott was one of four servicemen killed when a bomb exploded near their boat on the Shatt al-Arab waterway in Basra City on Remembrance Sunday.

The blast also claimed the life of Warrant Officer Class 2 Lee Hopkins, 35, and two Royal Marines, Marine Jason Hylton, 33, and 27-year-old Corporal Ben Nowak.

The ceremony was attended by her mother Elsie Manning, who moved to South Shields when she remarried, father Ted Elliott, step-sister Emma and step-brothers Gary, Wayne and David, who read his own tribute.

Sgt Elliott's colleague Warrant Officer Class 2 Charlie Jeynes spoke about his friend, making the congregation laugh with memories of her being so accident prone his wife gave her a plastic glass if she was drinking wine.

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But he also praised her reliability and value as a friend, despite their frequent disagreements.

He mentioned the loss of her fiance, who died in a motorbike accident, saying it had moulded her, turning her into a tough, no-nonsense and extremely hard working character.

His words echoed those of Warrant Officer Charlie Wallace before the ceremony, who remembered her friend's skill as an intelligence officer, with a ready smile.

She said: "She was understanding, very dedicated and very professional.

"She was also a fantastic person away from work, compassionate, very kind and a great friend to everybody.

"In the end, the funeral will not be all tears - it will be about smiles too, which is what Sharron was about.''

Her coffin, draped in the Union flag, was piped into the church by Corporal Trevor Bradley of the 1 Royal Irish, who played Wee Mac's Lament.

Pallbearers from the Intelligence Corps carried her coffin inside, as her family and friends looked on in distress.

The road outside was blocked by police outriders, as local people also stopped to pay their respects.

The congregation of 250, plus a further 150 in a garden outside St Lawrence the Martyr Church, sang Jerusalem and Abide With Me.

After the funeral, a private service was held at South Shields Crematorium.

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