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Blast soldier 'simply the best'

A soldier who died along with five colleagues in a bomb attack in Afghanistan was "simply the best", mourners heard.

Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, was killed on March 6 alongside Corporal Jake Hartley, 20, Private Anthony Frampton, 20, Private Christopher Kershaw, 19, Private Daniel Wade, 20, and Private Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment.

He was the most senior soldier on the Warrior armoured personnel carrier destroyed in the explosion.

His widow, Natalie, 28, from Lytham St Annes, Lancashire, held hands with their two daughters, Ella, five, and Jasmine, two, as they led the procession into his funeral service at St Anne's CE Church in the town.

Hundreds packed into the service and people lined the streets outside as the service was relayed on loudspeakers.

Among floral tributes was a wreath spelling out "Daddy" with a card from Ella that read: "You're a very special star and we love you so much, Ella xxx."

In a tribute from Mrs Coupe, read out to the congregation by Army chaplain the Reverend Philip Burrows, she said: "Brave and heroic, all of the tributes we have heard since his death do not even begin to describe the Nigel we all know and love so dearly. The best husband and daddy ever.

"Nigel, you really are simply the best. No words can describe how much Ella, Jasmine and I will miss you."

The tragedy was the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006.

The funerals of the other five soldiers killed in the explosion will follow in the next month.

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