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Special memorial service for soldier Kirk Redpath killed 10 years ago in Iraq

PUBLISHED: 14:13 31 July 2017 | UPDATED: 15:27 31 July 2017

Rev Father Roderick Hingley speaking at the memorial service for Kirk Redpath. Picture: Catherine Davison

Rev Father Roderick Hingley speaking at the memorial service for Kirk Redpath. Picture: Catherine Davison

Catherine Davison

On a quiet Sunday afternoon, crescendoes of wind and brass melodies soared from a band hall, celebrating the life of a soldier killed in Iraq 10 years ago.

Kirk Redpath Kirk Redpath

Lance Cpl Kirk Redpath was just 22 when he died – alongside Lance Sgt Chris Casey, 27 – in an IED (improvised explosive device) blast on August 8 2007, as the pair travelled in a convoy from Kuwait to Basra.

“Gentleman” Kirk, from Romford, known as ‘Rederz’ to his regiment, had been a dedicated drummer in The Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford since the age of 11, and served with the 1st Battalion (Pipes and Drums) of the Irish Guards. The Guards’ motto is Quis Separabit – who shall separate us.

The special memorial service was held yesterday at The Richardson (Band) Hall, Royal British Legion Club Romford, Western Road.

It was attended by family, friends and comrades of Kirk’s, as well as dignitaries including Mayor of Havering Councillor Linda Van den Hende.

Led by Rev Father Roderick Hingley, the moving commemoration featured hymns, readings and performances from the legion band and Irish Guards, with guests brushing away tears as the powerful music filled the room.

Those who delivered tributes spoke of Kirk’s ebullient sense of humour, caring nature and strong work ethic.

Sgt Tommy Claydon, who grew up with Kirk in the legion band, told how his friend would go the extra mile for anyone – “especially girls”, he joked – and if Kirk was here today, he would probably have been husband to a “lucky wife”, and a “fantastic father”.

Regimental Sgt Maj Kevin Gannaway-Pitts (of the Irish Guards, retired), described the young Kirk as a “chubby little boy who loved to be challenged”, who became such a talented soldier that, had he lived, would likely have reached his rank.

Mandy Neal hugs a friend at the memorial service for her son Kirk Redpath, who was killed in action 10 years ago. Picture: Catherine Davison Mandy Neal hugs a friend at the memorial service for her son Kirk Redpath, who was killed in action 10 years ago. Picture: Catherine Davison

He added: “The first time Kirk went away [with the army], he wasn’t successful but it didn’t stop him, he got up and he got fit.

“I do look at him when I look back at my life and he’s the replica of myself.”

“Kirk always had a story to tell, and he didn’t leave out details: if there was crossing a line he would cross the line,” said Ian Yeoman, director of The Royal British Legion Band & Corps of Drums Romford, and organiser of the event.

“The 8th of August 10 years ago was probably one of the most devastating times this band has had to face.

The memorial stone for Kirk Redpath, who was killed in action 10 years ago. Picture: Catherine Davison The memorial stone for Kirk Redpath, who was killed in action 10 years ago. Picture: Catherine Davison

“We stood together, and got through it, and Kirk will always remain part of this band, which is a massive extended family.

“I’d like to thank Mandy and Colin [Kirk’s parents] for producing such a son, who was a real gentleman.”

Mr Yeoman added that he will be “forever grateful” for the privilege of being in Kirk’s life.

The soldier’s parents also gave their own tributes. His mother Mandy Neal read a poignant poem, A Mother’s Son by Marie Wilkinson, while his father Colin Redpath gave a short speech.

Colin Redpath, Kirk's father, speaking at the memorial service. Picture: Catherine Davison Colin Redpath, Kirk's father, speaking at the memorial service. Picture: Catherine Davison

“I used to talk to Kirk on several occasions about being a soldier,” he said. “He was so proud to be an Irish Guardsman.

“On behalf of me and my family, I’d like to thank everyone for coming to pay tribute to my son. I’m just so overwhelmed by it all.

“Normally I’m not lost for words, as a lot of people know I can talk for England, but today it’s quite difficult.”

Mr Redpath asked for the band’s drum salute – a “privilege” for Kirk – to also be dedicated to Lance Sgt Chris Casey, the comrade who died alongside his son.

Photographs at the memorial service for Kirk Redpath, who was killed in action 10 years ago. Picture: Catherine Davison Photographs at the memorial service for Kirk Redpath, who was killed in action 10 years ago. Picture: Catherine Davison

Lance Sgt Casey, a good friend of Kirk’s, from London, was married and had two children.

The service was followed by the blessing of Kirk’s memorial stone, outside the hall, and a reception at the Romford legion club, where guests could reflect further on how deeply their lives were touched by the young soldier.

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