Town rallies for funeral appeal

Veteran Eric Gill, 97, of Edlington, is angry, after vegetables were stolen from his garden.  Picture: Marie Caley D5549MC
Veteran Eric Gill, 97, of Edlington, is angry, after vegetables were stolen from his garden. Picture: Marie Caley D5549MC

Hundreds of people across the borough have pledged to attend the funeral of a Doncaster war hero and help give him the send off he deserves.

Eric Gill, of Nelson Road, Edlington, who fought in the 49th West Riding Infantry during World War Two, sadly passed away on November 30.

I want to attend on behalf of Edlington to say thank you for everything he did for this country

Earlier this week,Mr Gill’s friend and carer Gwen Burrows released a public statement, calling on people across the borough to attend Mr Gill’s funeral.

This was due to fears that the funeral of Mr Gill, who was awarded the Légion d’honneur by the French Government earlier this year, may not be well attended due to the 99-year-old only having a ‘small circle of friends and family,’ some of whom will be unable to make it due to illness and distance.

And since The Star launched the appeal on our website on Sunday, organisers of the funeral have been inundated with offers to attend the service next week.

The town’s veterans’ champion and Civic Mayor Paul Wray and Mayor of Edlington, Georgina Mullis are among those who have promised to attend.

Mrs Mullis told The Star: “I think he deserves a big send off.

She added: “We owe it to him to honour him in this way. I want to attend on behalf of the people of Edlington, to say thank you for everything he did for this country.”

Doncaster war hero, Ben Parkinson is hoping he will also be able to pay his respects to Mr Gill at the public service.

Ben’s mum, Diane Dernie commented: “Ben is very interested in coming.

“If we are able to make the arrangements for him to go, I know he wouldn’t miss it.”

Chairman of the Victoria Cross Trust, Gary Stapleton, who is helping to organise the funeral arrangements, said he wanted to see Mr Gills funeral at Rose Hill crematorium filled to the rafters.

He told The Star: “Eric’s funeral really is an opportunity for Doncaster to pay tribute to him, and to everyone of his generation who did so much for this country.

“We would like as many people to attend it as possible.

“A lot of people who seved alongside Eric never made it back, and he lived his life for them. And so his funeral will also be in tribute to everyone who never made it back from the war.

■Mr Gill’s funeral will be held at Rose Hill Crematorium at 2pm on Friday, December 18.

Everyone is welcome to attend.