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Featured Image Credit: Cooney Family
Hundreds of people have gathered to honour a World War II veteran who died alone in a nursing home with no family to mourn his loss.
The death of Troop Sergeant Major Stewart Abbot Cooney, a 95-year-old veteran who outlived his wife and son, was only acknowledged by a handful of carers and a social worker in a Leeds care home last month, the Daily Mail reported.
However, when staff at Colton Lodges Nursing Home put out an appeal for people to attend his funeral on social media, it received a huge response. On the day, over 300 attendees including current and former soldiers, biker gang members, his long-lost sister Helen and nephew Stewart turned up to pay their respects.
His coffin was draped in the union flag with a Royal Artillery cap on top.
Lynda Gomersall, who spoke at the funeral, told the packed crematorium that Mr Cooney was born in Dundee in 1921 and trained as a jute weaver before the war.
As the mourners stood outside the chapel awaiting Mr Cooney's final journey to a church in Pudsey, Barry Fretwell, president of Mirfield Royal British Legion, said: "It was incredibly heart-warming how people had responded."
Stacey Williams, carer at Carlton Lodge where Mr Cooney died, said he would have been overwhelmed by the turnout from strangers.
"He was the kind of man who just didn't expect that kind of thing," she said.
Mr Cooney fought in Syria, Egypt and Monte Cassino, Italy, amongst other places during the war, commanding 90 men. He was also stationed in Dortmund until 1952 following the defeat of Nazi Germany.
Mr Cooney's regimental number - 883220 - was arranged in a floral display by his graveside, alongside funeral bouquets and wreaths of poppies.
RIP, a hero.
Words by James Dawson
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