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Marathon collapse Afghanistan veteran hailed as 'hero' at funeral

Published 05/05/2016

An Afghanistan veteran who died after collapsing during the London Marathon has been hailed a "hero" and an "inspiration" at his funeral.

Mourners were told that Captain David Seath, a fire support team commander in 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery, had "served his country with distinction" overseas.

Capt Seath, originally from Cowdenbeath in Fife but based in Plymouth, Devon, suffered a suspected cardiac arrest while running the 26.2-mile course on April 24 and later died in hospital.

Family members, friends and military colleagues gathered for a service at St Margaret's RC Memorial Church, in the Fife town of Dunfermline, to remember the 31-year-old.

During the service, Captain James Walker-McClimens read a tribute on behalf of Capt Seath's brother Gary.

He recounted childhood memories and spoke of his brother's love of cars and sport.

The speaker told the hundreds of gathered mourners: "David was my hero and my inspiration. I was so proud to say that he was a Captain in 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery and that he served his country with distinction in Afghanistan and the Middle East."

He went on: "Words can't express how proud I was listening to him as he described his tours of Afghanistan and the Middle East.

"I learnt so much about David's tours of duty, the strong bond of comradeship he had found in the Army as well as the many plans he had for the future.

"There are no words to express how devastated I am that this story has so tragically ended, with so many chapters left unwritten.

"I take great strength in the memories of him and the pride that he had in being an officer of 29 Commando Regiment Royal Artillery.

"He was dedicated to his men and supporting those who could not fight for themselves against the tyranny of the modern world."

The 350-capacity church was full, with dozens more standing in the aisles and at the back to hear the service.

Some wore bright colours in line with a request from the family. They had previously indicated they wanted the funeral to be a celebration of his life.

Capt Seath's officer commanding, Major Jim McCaffery, paid tribute to him ahead of the service.

He said: "It's with great sadness that we're here to say farewell to Captain David Seath. David was an inspiration to us all and I genuinely couldn't have wished for a finer officer. He will be sorely missed and our thoughts and prayers are with David's loved ones at this trying time."

Major McCaffery, Battery Commander of 7 (Sphinx) Commando Battery, also spoke during the service to praise Capt Seath as an "intelligent, diligent and professional soldier".

He referred to his "irrepressible sense of fun" and said: "Everyone who came into contact with him felt better for it. His thirst for life, his joy in the moment and his sense of mischief gave him the ability to bring out a smile or a laugh under any circumstance and he was genuinely a pleasure to behold."

He went on: "It was the thoughtful, caring aspects of his character that cemented lifelong friendships and have drawn so many people here today.

"David would have always gone out of his way to help any of his friends, regardless of whether he met you yesterday or hadn't seen you for a decade.

"It is entirely fitting that Dave's final act would be in support of those he did not know personally but whom he knew required his help."

Capt Seath had been running the marathon to raise money for Help for Heroes.

Leading the service, parish priest Father Chris Heenan spoke of people's shock and disbelief following the officer's death but said there had been a "tremendous outpouring of love and affection" for him.

Following the memorial, hundreds of mourners on foot followed the hearse taking the coffin - draped in a Union Flag - to a private burial.

Capt Seath fell ill at the 23-mile mark while taking part in the race. His friends and colleagues vowed to continue to raise money for Help for Heroes.

More than £100,000 has been donated to a JustGiving page in his memory while about £80,000 has been raised for the charity on his own page.

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