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‘He would be smiling down on us’ – military personnel rally to attend lonely veteran’s funeral

Armed Forces personnel are teaming up to make sure a Royal Navy veteran has the final send-off he de..

By admin , in Cambridge , at May 2, 2018

Armed Forces personnel are teaming up to make sure a Royal Navy veteran has the final send-off he deserves.

John Leonard Baldwin, 90, passed away recently but has no living relatives.

He was born in Wayland, Norfolk on July 8, 1927 – and died in Cambridge on April 19 this year.

Mr Baldwins funeral tomorrow (Thursday) looked to be a lonely event, but after the News highlighted his story, people have been rallying round to make sure his final journey isnt made alone.

The East Chapel of Cambridge City Crematorium (Image: Philip Mynott/Cambridge City Council)

There was even a post on the Veterans Honoured Facebook page.

His funeral was only going to be attended by one long term friend and Reverend Simon Whittaker as chaplain.

Mr Baldwin served in the Royal Navy for 22 years and has been described as a “true and proud military man”.

Angela OSullivan, his long-term friend, told the News that Johns funeral has been moved from the east chapel to the west chapel at the crematorium because so many more people were now expected to attend.

Cambridge Crematorium (Image: Matthew Power)

'The Royal Navy want to make sure he is honoured'

She said: “Im a sister at Addenbrookes; I was coming along in the car when I saw someone struggling to walk. It was John. I got him a chair and our friendship blossomed from there really.

“Since the appeal in the News asking for more people to attend his funeral, lots of people in Cambridge have been gathering together to help.

“Representatives from the Royal Navy all want to make sure John is honoured in the same way that he gave 22 years of his life to his country.”

Angela said people are coming to Johns funeral from as far away as Worchestershire, which is great to hear.

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'John was a generous man to the very end – the world was a better place with him in it'

She added: “John didnt have any family, so when he wanted help or he needed it I stepped up when I could.

“John was like a father to me over the years; I feel really honoured to have known him and had him as my friend.

“He was a lovely man, he cared a lot about the environment and about his country. John was also really generous.

“My job is to support people in Addenbrookes with dementia. Johns late wife died from Parkinsons disease – and he asked me if he could donate his brain for Parkinsons research.

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“He thought about it some more, and said hed love to do that. He was a generous man to the very end.

“The world was a better place with him in it. If he knew about the response weve had to his send off, hed be smiling down at all of us.”

Mr Baldwin's funeral, organised by Cambridge-based Weyman Funeral Directors, will be held from 2.30pm at Cambridge Crematorium tomorrow (Thursday, May 3).

A Facebook event has also been set up by Veterans Honoured for all those interested in attending.

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The appeal comes after the News shared a similar appeal for the funeral of RAF hero Kenneth White .

Moved by Kenneth's story, people rallied round to contribute to a celebration of his life.

Reader Paul Beard got in touch to say friends and serving RAF personnel would attend the funeral on March 26 .

Flowers, wreath and a small collection for a plaque in Kenneth's memory were organised.

Flowers left at Kenneth White's funeral

Before the planned funeral service at Cambridge Crematorium, 150 motorbikes travelled with Kenneth's body from St Ives.

The escort, with bikers from all over the country, was met by an armed forces bugler ahead of the funeral in the crematorium's West Chapel.

More than 100 people attended the service after Kenneth's story was shared through social media.

Another appeal was made in May last year following the death of D-Day landings veteran John Craig, from Saffron Walden.

At his funeral, also at Cambridge Crematorium, more than 70 people came along to pay their last respects.