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Rigby's name: forever remembered


Fusilier Lee Rigby

Fusilier Lee Rigby

Fusilier Lee Rigby

Fusilier Lee Rigby's killers wanted to become martyrs - but it is his name that will be remembered.

Loving and gentle to his family, good humoured and dependable to his fellow soldiers, he had already survived a bloody and gruelling tour of Afghanistan, from which seven of his comrades did not return.

His family believed the father-of-one was "perfectly safe" now he was back home.

Born in Crumpsall, Manchester, in July 1987, the eldest of five children, Lee Rigby was fiercely protective of his four younger sisters, Sara, 24, Chelsea, 21, Courtney, 11, and Amy, eight, who all idolised their "hero" big brother.

The family grew up together at their home on Burnside Close, on the huge Langley estate in Middleton, a 1950s council estate built for the slum-clearances in post-war Manchester, four miles to the south.

Manchester United's Paul Scholes was brought up on the same streets and Drummer Rigby was himself a life-long fan of the Red Devils, playing for local amateurs Middleton Boys FC.

Friends and neighbours remember a "sport mad lad" who was likeable, quiet but confident.

Fusilier Rigby, who attended Queen Elizabeth High School in Middleton, could have a fiery temper as a teenager, his step-father said, and was a "typical lad" and at times "daft as a brush".

Aged 16, he was shot in the face with an air rifle, as he walked home from a nearby chip shop - a gang of youths hanging around nearby thought to be the culprits.

But his family always knew he would turn out to be a "good lad".

And he did not join the Army because of a lack of options, but because from being a little boy he wanted to - really wanted to.

After finishing his education he got a job and was twice unsuccessful in applying for the Army but he never gave up.

A recruiting sergeant at Rochdale found out he was dyslexic and got him help with his reading, passing the entrance tests at the third attempt.

His dream fulfilled, he loved his job, especially the pomp and ceremony of public duties, proudly wearing his red tunic as a drummer outside Buckingham Palace, Windsor Castle and the Tower of London.

In 2006, after successful completion of his infantry training course at Catterick, he had been selected to be a member of the Corps of Drums and posted to 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, also known as the Second Fusiliers or 2 RRF.

"Riggers" as he became known, knew nothing of drumming and his taste in music, his love of boyband crooners Westlife, was a source of amusement to his fellow Fusiliers.

But his thirst for life, sense of mischief and good humour made him a popular recruit.

He married Rebecca Metcalfe, a recruitment consultant, at St Anne's Church, in Southowram, West Yorkshire, while based at Catterick in the early days of his Army career.

His first foreign posting was as a machine gunner in Cyprus.

He then returned to the UK in the early part of 2008 to live with his wife in Hounslow Barracks, West London.

In April 2009, he put his drum down and picked up his machine gun as he was deployed on operations for the first time to Helmand province, Afghanistan, where he served as a member of the Fire Support Group at Patrol Base Woqab.

His unit took part in numerous firefights with the Taliban and regularly had to patrol across ground strewn with improvised explosive devices.

His courage was tested every day, but his commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Jim Taylor said: "He was not found wanting."

On returning to the UK he completed a second tour of public duties and then moved with his wife to the battalion based at Celle, Germany, as part of the Small Scale Contingency Battle Group.

In 2011, his son, Jack, was born and Drummer Rigby became a devoted and doting father, collecting teddy bears dressed in army regalia from across the world for his son.

The same year, he took up a recruiting post in London, a job he was considered ideally suited for, combining his soldiering ability and charisma coupled with a cheeky outgoing personality that naturally endeared him to potential recruits.

Through the Army he met and proposed to a second woman, Aimee West, who was serving with the Royal Military Police.

His mother, Lyn Rigby has said her son did go through some upset in his life and he always turned to her for support on the phone, sometimes tearful - before they ended up laughing over his troubles.

His wife Rebecca is understood to have been with parents Susan and Paul Metcalfe in Halifax, west Yorkshire, as news of her husband's death broke.

She said she was "proud to be his wife" and he was due to travel north on the weekend after he died to continue their life as a family.

Aimee West is reportedly planning to quit the Army over her devastation at losing the fellow soldier she expected to marry.

For Lee Rigby, his son and family always came first and he had an especially strong bond to his mother, who split from his father, Philip McClure, and later married Ian Rigby in 2006, with Lee taking his step-father's name.

His last text to his mother, sent on Mother's Day, said she was a "one in a million mum" and called her his "best friend".

She had an inkling he was the soldier at Woolwich as he always called after a military incident to put her mind at ease.

This time the phone did not ring and Mrs Rigby got the dreaded knock of an unexpected visitor from the MoD.

"I opened the door and my world just crashed," she said.

In the wake of his death Drummer Rigby's family have been inundated by thousands of cards, letters and flowers from all over the country and abroad, and from all faiths and none.

His family urged peace and harmony and begged extremists on both sides not to use his name as an excuse for violence.

To them he has become "a hero" and the intentions of his killers to stoke hatred and violence has failed.

Mr Rigby added: "Lee has become a hero.

"Whatever the intention was it's backfired, because it's made Lee into the hero and the martyr."

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