Family to mark birthday of slain Northern Ireland soldier Private Matthew Boyd
Man killed on night out would have turned 21
The 21st birthday of a Northern Ireland-born soldier killed in Wales will be marked today with a "quiet remembrance" by his family and friends here and in Spain.
Private Matthew Boyd's family in La Linea and Carrickfergus said they would spend the day remembering the life of a man they described as "funny and popular, with the cheekiest grin".
Mr Boyd was killed on a night out in Brecon last month. Two men aged 22 and 23 have been charged with his murder.
His mother, Michelle Rogers, said she planned to hold a barbecue at the family home that would be attended by Matthew's stepfather, Jeremy, his friends and members of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment, in which he served for five years.
The family, originally from Greenisland, moved 13 years ago, and Matthew and brothers James (22) and Darren (16) soon adapted to their new life. Sister Katie (10) was later born there.
The soldier, who has been described as handsome, outgoing, charismatic and daring, signed up for the Army aged 16.
His superiors said he was a dedicated man who would have been proud to serve alongside younger brother Darren, who recently joined up.
His mother described how the fighting instinct was always in her son, who was born prematurely at just 30 weeks at the Jubilee Maternity Hospital.
"He was a little fighter," said Mrs Rogers, who also told how she had been overwhelmed by the amount of tributes paid to Matthew from all over the world.
"He was not supposed to be born until July and they said he would be in hospital until October, but he was out by June," she added. "He was definitely born with that fighting instinct. He was one of the loves of my life - all my kids are - I am just so proud of him.
"People say you can love your kids too much, but I don't believe that you can. I absolutely adored him - we all did.
"He lived life to the fullest, never looking back. He just got on with things.
"He was always joking, and I know that he would be looking at us all now and laughing at all the media attention he's got. But he would have loved it too.
"We all really miss him, but we will celebrate his life and the joy he brought to us."
Big brother James also paid tribute to the Manchester United fan, recalling how his mother once dressed them both head-to-toe in the team's kit.
James said he was "so scarred" that he turned to supporting rivals Liverpool.
"Matthew was the life and soul of every party," he added. "He would put a smile on everyone's face. No matter how much he would wind you up, you would always have ended up giggling at his cheeky ways.
"He was definitely a man for the ladies, with his smile and with his witty charm, and they fell in love with him."
Mrs Rogers, who is a member of the Methodist Church in Gibraltar, also expressed her thanks to the many people across the world "who have lifted us in prayer".
Matthew will receive a full military funeral, and his life will be marked at the Cenotaph in Carrickfergus on the day of his burial by his relatives in Northern Ireland.