Hundreds attend thanksgiving service for RAF Regiment gunner Warren Owen from Dereham

Tears of sadness mixed with laughter as about 300 family, friends and colleagues attended a service of thanksgiving for a popular young serviceman killed in a motorbike crash.

St Nicholas Parish Church in Dereham was packed on Thursday for the emotional farewell to Leading Aircraftman Warren Owen, 18, who died on May 26 following the accident on the A1075 at Griston, near Watton.

He was remembered as a loving son and big brother and friend and a 'happy go lucky' man who lived life to the full and had a great sense of humour.

Mr Owen was a gunner in 27 Squadron RAF Regiment based at RAF Honington and dozens of his fellow servicemen were at the service, including some who carried his coffin in and out of the church. There was a guard of honour outside as the coffin was carried in,

It was covered the Union Flag and his hat, belt and knife and a wreath of poppies were placed on the top.

His father John said he had been his inspiration and 'faced up to every situation without fear.'

'He was not just content getting by but he wanted to succeed in everything.'

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In a poignant personal message, Mr Owen's mother Ellise said: 'Every day you gave me a memory to keep. I love you so much and will continue to love you.'

She said he was the 'best big brother ever' to three-and-a-half year old Willow and 19-month-old Finnley.

Mr Owen's best friend Sebastian Everett said: 'He was happy go lucky and there was never a dull moment when he was in your presence. He lived a full life and always had something to aim for. We are here to celebrate a brilliant and inspiring life.'

His uncles Nathan, Damion and Aaron Devlin read tribute poems.

A number of amusing stories were recalled about Mr Owen including how he always ate a bowl of porridge after every meal and how he was scared of heights and had to be coerced into going on a rollercoaster ride on his 16th birthday.

Mr Owen was known to colleagues as 'Sid' and 'Worm' and arrived at Honington in February after an arduous 24-week basic training programme.

He was remembered as a hard working serviceman with drive and determination and who achieved great results and also someone who was instantly likeable and had a great sense of humour.

Mr Owen attended Dereham Neatherd High School and Dereham Sixth Form College. He was also a keen biker and a number of motorcyclists joined the funeral courtege through Dereham town centre before the service.

A single bell rung for several minutes beforehand.

Also in the congregation were members of the 1249 (Dereham) Squadron of the Air Training Corps, which Mr Owen attended before he joined the RAF.

Everyone was given a sunflower seed at the end of the service and asked to plant it as a way to remember him.

The coffin was taken in to the church with Elgar's Nimrod playing and was carried out to Bang The Gon by T-Rex.

There was then a committal at Dereham Cemetery which including three gun volleys, the Last Post and Reveille.

Collections were taken for Help For Heroes and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.

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