Church packed for soldier funeral

Ethan Horton, 9, follows the coffin of his father Colour Sergeant Martyn Horton
Image caption Mourners included Sgt Horton's son, nine-year-old Ethan

Mourners stood outside a packed church for the funeral of a soldier who was killed when his vehicle plunged into an Afghanistan canal.

Colour Sgt Martyn Horton, 34, of 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment, died alongside three other soldiers in the crash last month.

Family and friends gathered to remember him at St Michael's Church in his home town of Runcorn on Wednesday.

The service was relayed to those outside on loud speakers.

Sgt Horton had been part of an Afghan police advisory team in Helmand province when the crash happened on 23 June.

The team were responding to an attack on a police checkpoint near Gereshk when their armoured Ridgeback fell into the Nahr-e Bughra canal.

He died alongside Merseyside colleagues Pte Douglas Halliday - who was laid to rest on Tuesday - and Pte Alex Isaac, as well as reservist L/Cpl David Ramsden, 26, of Leeds.

Sgt Horton's family, including his son Ethan, nine, and partner Gemma Jones, wrote floral tributes to him.

Ms Jones, mother of the soldier's step-daughter Bethany, 17, wrote: "Martyn, my lover, my hero, my everything.

"You were the greatest thing that ever happened to me but sadly that has been taken away.

Image caption Sgt Martyn Horton had served in a number of different countries

"I will keep you forever in my heart and you will always have a special place in our home."

The avid Liverpool football club fan's brother wrote: "I am so proud to have you as my brother.

"If I grow into half the man you were I would be so happy. RIP big brother. Miss you loads. Love, Michael."

And a parental tribute read: "An amazing son who will be so missed by all who knew you. Never forgotten."

The soldier had served in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, the Falkland Islands, Belize and Kenya, Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

In a statement released after his death, Sgt Horton's commanding officer Lt Col Andrew Hadfield had described him as "one of the very best".

He said he was a "highly professional field soldier" as well as being a friendly and amusing man "always looking for the fun in life".

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