Hundreds attend funeral of Royal Marine after family's appeal
PUBLISHED: 15:46 09 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:14 09 January 2020
Copyright: Archant 2020
A family worried that no-one would attend the funeral of a former Royal Marine have been left overwhelmed as more than 200 people attended.
Wellwishers were unable to fit into St Mary's Church in Watton as crowds, including current and former servicemen, came to pay their respects to Reg Wilcox.
His family was greeted with a guard of honour along the driveway as they arrived at the church.
Mr Wilcox's nephew Alan appealed for support after fewer than 15 people were due to attend the service on January 9.
Mr Rickett said: "When I saw it [the guard of honour] I couldn't speak, it's incredible. There was a manly tear or two or three."
A fire engine from Watton Fire Station led a convoy of vehicles to the church in honour of Mr Wilcox's long career in the fire service.
Chris Fletcher, from the station, said: "We are all firefighters - at the end of the day we wanted to come and pay our respects."
There were 13 standards from organisations including the Royal British Legion, Royal Marines and Royal Naval Association, which were lowered in respect during the Last Post.
The Phoenix Pipes and Drums of Watton and three members of the City of Norwich Pipe Band also performed.
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The Rev Kyla Sørensen said the community had lost a great man who was a good friend to many.
Mark Rickett, great-nephew, paid tribute on behalf of his father Alan and thanked everyone for their support.
Mr Rickett said: "He retired to become, in his own words, a man of Norfolk. His days in the Marines were fantastic, he travelled the world, became a man. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Reg was a truly wonderful man. The world will be a sad place without him."
Mr Wilcox, who was 90, was evacuated to the Gissing area when he was 12. He joined the Royal Marines in 1947 aged 17, and was unable swim. During his career, he served on HMS Gambia, HMS Victoria and HMS Glory.
After leaving the Royal Marines he served in the London Fire Brigade for 23 years and was among the heroes of the Moorgate tube disaster in 1975.
He was married to Doris for 59 years and the pair enjoyed jetting off on holiday from Norwich Airport.
He was also a keen gardener and liked to keep his grass and borders in military order.
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Stan Hebborn, from the Phoenix Pipers said the camaraderie shown by the Armed Forces and the community and urged any veteran or family to seek help from groups.
He said; "Nobody should go out on their own. We should look out for others in the community."
Veterans needing support should contact Royal Airforce Association, Army Benevolent Fund, Royal Naval Association, Royal Marines Association and the Royal British Legion.