The father of soldier Sean Binnie today told mourners he was immensely proud that his son had died a hero.
During a highly-emotional service for the 23-year-old soldier from Black Watch 3rd Battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Allen Binnie told mourners he was standing in front of them “10 feet tall” such was his pride in his son.
The body of Corporal Binnie was carried into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in south Belfast by colleagues who served with him during his time in the Army.
Wearing black arm bands, they carried the coffin, draped in a Union flag with Cpl Binnie’s gloves and belt on top, into the church led by a lone piper. His widow Amanda was joined at the service by family and friends as well as serving soldiers and Army veterans who also stood to attention outside the church as the funeral cortege arrived.
Cpl Binnie’s father told the congregation that he and his wife, Janette, were extremely proud the day their only son, who served in Afghanistan, Iraq, the Falklands, and Northern Ireland — where he met his wife Amanda — joined the Army.
“I am so proud of Sean,” he said.
Affectionately referred to as “Cheeky Face” during the service, mourners heard that Cpl Binnie died as he had lived — courageous and an inspiration to all.
Bishop Victor Shearer told the service: “I married Sean and Amanda in December and I found him to be polite, loving and deeply in love with his wife.”
Mrs Binnie — who was supported by her parents as she followed her husband’s coffin into the church — read a poem to the congregation in which she pledged her love for her husband.
Earlier, she stood by her brother as he fought back tears while reading a dedication to his brother-in-law and friend.
A member of Cpl Binnie’s family, Amy Binnie, sang Hero as his coffin was carried from the church before being taken to Roselawn Cemetery for burial.
Members of the public lined Annadale Avenue as the funeral cortege, led by PSNI motorcycle outriders and followed on foot by mourners, made its way slowly along the road.
The 23-year-old, who was part of a battlegroup mentoring the Afghan National Army, was shot by Taliban insurgents while on patrol in the Musa Qal’eh region on May 7.
Mrs Binnie said the last two weeks since his death, which involved selecting a burial plot for her husband, were a surreal series of events.
“I’m still in shock,” she said.
“I can’t believe it’s him. His mum went to see him in the coffin but I didn’t want to.
“I want to remember him how he was and seeing him like that would only mak me crumble
more, I need to do this in my own time.”
She said that before the funeral she spent her nights sitting beside her husband’s coffin.
“I’m not really sleeping. I take a chair in at night and stay beside the coffin and when I do sleep I have really weird dreams,” she said. “The other night I dreamt I woke up and he was there and he told me it was all a big joke.”
And she revealed that she has received four letters sent by him before his death but was too heartbroken to read them.
“I’ve had four letters delivered to the house since it happened but I haven’t looked at them yet. When I saw them coming through the door I asked my dad to keep them for me. I might open one on my birthday on June 10 but I haven’t decided yet. I don’t want to let him go. I have to take one day at a time.”
Mrs Binnie also revealed that among the messages of support she has received since her husband’s death are letters of condolence from Prince Charles and the Duke of Edinburgh.