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Anti-IS Briton 'a real character'

Schoolfriends of the former Royal Marine killed fighting against Islamic State in Syria say they are mourning a "real character" and remembering his "cheeky smile".

Konstandinos Erik Scurfield from Royston, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, was reportedly shot dead on Monday while fighting alongside Kurdish forces in the frontline village of Tel Khuzela.

Mr Scurfield's friends from Royston High School, where he studied until 2006, said they are hoping to organise a reunion event in his memory.

And they said they are struggling to reconcile the reports of his front-line fighting in Syria with the laid-back, long-haired, drama-loving teenager they knew.

Emma Hyman, 24, said his school friends have found it difficult to match the fun-loving actor who was loved by everyone in his year with the pictures they have seen of him over the last couple days in military poses wearing combat fatigues.

"He was definitely a bit of an extrovert and he wanted to be a actor," Miss Hyman said.

"He was such a people-person and when he went into the forces it was a big surprise. He wasn't a fighter. He didn't get into any fights at school or anything like that. It's a bit of a mystery because he didn't show interest in those kind of things at all at school.

"You put people in groups - certain things they might do with their lives and I would never have had him down as becoming a soldier."

She said he also had long hair at school.

"Seeing these pictures with his short, soldier hair, is really strange," she said.

Miss Hyman said Mr Scurfield, who was known as Kosta at school, was an extremely popular student and was also very clever - in the top sets for everything.

She said he came to Royston High, which no longer exists, in his early teens from Nottingham and was immediately noticeable because he did not have the ubiquitous Barnsley accent and was " really well-spoken, very polite and very respectful".

She said: " Everybody loved him because he was a real character.

"He was one of those people who you couldn't find anything negative at all to say about him. He was friendly and funny and really laid back. He had such a cheeky smile.

" He got on with everybody. That's why it's such a shock for us all."

Miss Hyman said: "I t has been a massive shock.

"We're trying to organise something so we can all get together and remember him. It's at the early stages at the moment. It's a shame we are going to all come together in these circumstances."

Mr Scurfield 's family yesterday spoke of their pride in him, while his former partner described him as "amazing" for "doing an unselfish act", the Daily Telegraph reported.

Jemma Weston said he went to the war-torn country to "help other people and to make a difference".

Ms Weston said Mr Scurfield had contacted her some months ago to say he wanted to return home to her, and added that news of his death had left her heartbroken.

She said she believes he travelled to Syria in order to "give something back", having told her before he left that it was simply something he had to do, the paper reported.

Mr Scurfield, who was an expert in battlefield medicine, is believed to have travelled to Syria three or four months ago hoping to provide medical and humanitarian support.

His family said they had been devastated by his death.

"His flame might have burned briefly but it burned brightly with love, courage, conviction and honour and we are very proud of him," they said in a statement.

Mr Scurfield was said to have been "horrified by the atrocities being carried out by Isis".

After leaving school, he studied drama at New College Nottingham, completing a diploma in performing arts in 2010.

Yesterday his neighbour Mary Jane Hemmings said the news was "heartbreaking" and said she would remember his lovely personality and film-star good looks.

Mr Scurfield's parents had recently spoken to Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis about their fears for their son's safety.

The Labour MP said their "worst fears had been realised".

He said: "Erik was an experienced former Royal Marine who was horrified by the atrocities being carried out by Isis.

"His family's understanding was that he travelled to Syria hoping to provide medical and humanitarian support as an expert in battlefield medicine."

Mr Scurfield was named on Tuesday by the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG).

While high numbers of foreigners are known to have joined IS, around 100 Westerners - including several Britons - are thought to have fought alongside the Kurds.

Last month, a 19-year-old serving British soldier was returned to his unit after joining the Kurdish peshmerga.

In December it emerged that two former British soldiers had travelled to Syria to fight against IS after feeling ''compelled'' to take up arms following the murder of aid volunteer Alan Henning.

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