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Crowds turn up for funeral of WWII veteran who died alone after social media appeal

A huge crowd turned up for his funeral after carers put an appeal online Credit: SWNS

A World War II veteran who died with no family to attend his funeral was laid to rest in front of a huge crowd after a social media appeal.

Stewart Cooney died aged 95 at a nursing home last month, with no relatives to mourn his loss.

Stewart's wife, Betty, died in 2008 and their adopted son, Niall, passed away in 2014.

With no other known family, carers and social workers who had looked after Stewart in his final years feared he would be buried without anyone there to mourn his loss.

Stewart Cooney Credit: SWNS

Dougie Eastwood, area trainer for BUPA Care Services which runs Colton Lodges nursing home where Stewart died in Leeds, West Yorkshire, launched an appeal for representatives of the Armed Forces and the Royal British Legion to attend their comrade's funeral.

Stewart, who was born in Dundee, served as a gunner during World War II and was in the army for a total of 25 years, fighting in Egypt and Sicily as well as a combat spell in Malaysia.

Dougie said: "I'm quite humbled by the fact that this family of soldiers have come together to bury this gentlemen with respect and dignity.

"We're in the world for such a short time, no-one deserves to go to the grave without being recognised.

"He outlived his wife and son and died with no family so I got in touch with 269 Royal Artillery based in Leeds and it just went viral.

"I couldn't see his funeral only attended by a couple of care workers, a social worker and a priest.

"I'm quite happy he'll go the way an old soldier like him should do.

"I asked one of the nurses about Stewart and she told me he had been in World War Two. He was in the Royal Artillery and served in Egypt and Sicily. It didn't feel right someone who served his country should pass by unnoticed."

His funeral took place with military pomp Credit: SWNS

Stewart's former carer Janice found out about the funeral on Facebook.

Janice, who worked with Stewart between 2012 and 2014, said: "He would talk about his wife a lot, he called her Barnsley Betty, as that was where she was from.

"He had dementia so he would sometimes get a little confused and think he had been out doing things with them.

"He was always pleasant and loved to sing. He would sing whole Frank Sinatra songs and get us to join in.

"I think he would have really liked it, especially with the military people coming.

"He would have liked to have chatted with them - he was so proud of his time in the army."