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Strangers gather for final farewell to old soldier

By Staff Reporter

More than 100 strangers attended the funeral in England of a former soldier - who had served two tours of duty in Northern Ireland.

Steve McGrath (56) had fallen on hard times and was found dead in a hostel in Liverpool on January 17, where he was undergoing rehab after spending some time on the streets.

He was a widower who was estranged from this two children, and had no other family.

His best friend Chris Bridson (60) started a campaign for strangers to attend his funeral to ensure a dignified send-off at Anfield crematorium.

"The thought of no one being there for him at his funeral was heartbreaking," Mr Bridson said.

"It was so sad to think someone who served his country could have a funeral with no one there."

Mr Bridson's daughter Zoe posted a heart-rending boost to the appeal on social media which sparked the interest.

"My Dad sadly lost one of his ex-army friends recently," Zoe Bridson posted on February 2. "Unfortunately he had fallen on bad times and was homeless. He has no family. If anyone is around on Tuesday the 14th of February, 15:20, and would like to pay their last respects to someone who fought for their country, you would be very welcome at Anfield crematorium."

"Please feel free to share," she added. "It's so easy to forget how lucky we are."

Mr McGrath, nicknamed 'Mac', had served in the King's Regiment, nicknamed 'Kingos', which later became known as the Duke's First Battalion.

In 1976 and 1982, he completed two tours in Londonderry and Belfast before undergoing a six-month tour of Cyprus.

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