The incredible life of Fred Boomer-Hawkins

"I don't think you become a Chelsea Pensioner unless you're a proud, proud soldier, which he was, proud to be British, proud to be in the army, proud to serve the Queen. Everything you'd want in a soldier my dad was."

The tribute of Terry Hawkins to his father Fred Boomer-Hawkins, the military veteran and Chelsea Pensioner who sadly died of coronavirus.

Fred lived at the Royal Hospital Chelsea, a retirement home for military veterans, where nine pensioners were announced to have died from the virus last week.

Soldiers from his former barracks lined the streets in Colchester as Fred's funeral procession passed as a mark of respect to the war veteran.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement home for 290 military veterans which has been in existence for 300 years.

Another 58 residents have made a full recovery from the virus.

The Royal Hospital Chelsea also held a service to mark Fred's death on Wednesday May 13.

Fred died aged 75 having served in the British Army for most of his adult life.

The father-of-three, who was originally from Tottenham, joined the army aged 17.

His first posting was as a Royal Green Jacket in Colchester in 1961 and was later stationed in Malaysia, Germany and Tidworth, completed two tours of Northern Ireland, was a UN peacekeeper in Cyprus and spent two-years in Berlin.

A keen boxer, Frederick won tournaments including the Inter Services championship which covers fighters from the army, navy and air force, and later went on to coach.

Terry paid tribute to his father's life and how proud he is of his father's achievements.

"He had a knock at the door in London and one of his friends said, I'm going up the Army careers office to see what that's all about wanna tag a long? And he was like yeah, I'll come along with you," he said of how his father ended up joining the military.

"Went for a walk, and my nan was there shouting behind him don't go joining the army you! And of course, couple of hours later he came back and he was in the army. Ended up serving 22 years. My dad absolutely loved the Royal Green Jackets, it was in his heart, it was a big part of his life.

"I don't think you become a Chelsea Pensioner unless you're a proud, proud soldier, which he was, proud to be British, proud to be in the army, proud to serve the Queen. Everything you'd want in a soldier my dad was."

Terry and Fred's daughter Anita Gregory are thankful they could be with him in his final moments.

"He was just really loving and he was a great family man, a very, very loyal person. If he was your friend you could rely on him," said Anita.

"We were very fortunate that we were allowed to be with dad for the last 12 hours. I will always be grateful for that."

"Just shows how brave he was that he was able to do that, to face death, the way that he did", Terry said.

"I'm just so glad that we did get that opportunity to spend a bit of time with him because most people aren't that fortunate and I really feel for those. At least we had a little bit of closure, and the opportunity to say goodbye and tell him that we loved him."