25/Jul/2014 - Last News Update: 08:54

Sapper Connor Ray given full military honours at funeral in Newport

Category: Wales

Published: 11th May 2012 18:28:33

A funeral of a soldier who died after an explosion in Afghanistan has been held with full military honours.

Sapper Connor Ray, serving with 33 Engineer Regiment, was wounded while hunting for explosives in April on the eve of his 21st birthday.

Sapper Ray, who lived in Newport and grew up in Bishopstoke, Hampshire, died of his wounds at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham.

Over 500 people attended his funeral at St Woolas Cathedral in Newport.

Among those paying tribute was Sapper Ray's brother Vinnie.

Mr Ray, whose mother died of cancer in 2008, said: "I always wanted to do whatever Connor was doing.

"He wasn't just my brother, he was my best friend. I wish it was me in that coffin and not him.

He wasn't just my brother, he was my best friend”

"I know you're up there with mum - tell her I love her."

Born in Southampton, Sapper Ray spent his early years in Bishopstoke, near to where his mother Tina was raised.

His family, which included two sisters and a brother, later moved to start a new life in Newport.

Sapper Ray's childhood friend Mike Pagenton, who also spoke at the service, said his music loving friend had settled in well and was popular among classmates at St Julian's Comprehensive School.

"He was one of the type of person that would always would leave you with a smile on your face," he said.

"There have been so many experiences that we have shared and that I will never forget."

Mourners sang the hymn Abide With Me, before Sapper Ray's Union flag-draped coffin was led out of the cathedral by Padre Robin Richardson, while six soldiers fired a three-shot military gun salute.

Following his funeral service, a private committal service for family and close friends took place at Gwent Crematorium.

Sapper Ray was searching a compound previously used by insurgents in the Nad Ali district of central Helmand when he was seriously injured by an improvised bomb on 11 April, on the eve of his 21st birthday.

He was taken to Camp Bastion Role 3 Hospital and later transferred to Birmingham, where he died on 18 April.

He joined the Corps of Royal Engineers in June 2009 and took up his role as an advanced searcher in 33 Engineer Regiment bomb disposal unit, based at Wimbish in Essex, in 2010.

The Ministry of Defence said during his time in Afghanistan, Sapper Ray and his team successfully undertook a number of high risk searches which "undoubtedly saved numerous British and Afghan lives".

Sapper Ray's family said ahead of his funeral that he was a "kind-hearted, good-natured and amusing guy with a curious taste for '80s power ballads".

They said: "He described himself as a warrior even though he was scared of spiders.

"Always in good spirits and often mischievous, he had a cheeky grin and infectious giggle.

"Connor regarded his best friends as brothers and he loved to play practical jokes on them, filming them on his phone for everyone else's enjoyment."

BBC News External Link Show Citation

Latest News

Harvard Citation

BBC News, 2012. Sapper Connor Ray given full military honours at funeral in Newport [Online] (Updated 11th May 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1428055/Sapper-Connor-Ray-given-full-military-honours-at-funeral-in-Newport [Accessed 25th Jul 2014]

News In Other Categories

  • Bedtime light 'may stop cancer drug working'

    Even low levels of light in bedrooms may stop breast cancer drugs from working, US researchers have warned.
  • Senegal’s cattle rustlers face mobile tech fightback

    "This is our concern. When it comes to raising cattle it's our job, when you're born you see your father doing it, it represents everything to us."
  • Bristol Academy extends reach overseas with first foreign students

    With the doors to its brand new £1million training centre officially open, one of the UK's leading apprentice training providers, Bristol based S&B Automotive Academy, is showcasing its world-class facilities by launching a series of foreign student exchanges for the first time in its 41-year history. To get a flavour of what life is like as an apprentice in the UK, the Academy hosted 16 apprentice engineers and bus drivers from the G9 Automotive College in Hamburg, Germany, as part of a Europe-wide vocational training initiative called the ‘Leonardo Programme’ with support from the European Social Fund. In a reciprocal arrangement, S&B will be sending nine apprentices to Germany during February 2012 so that they can get an appreciation of life in the automotive industry on the Continent. A further three German exchange groups are being planned for next year. Designed to assist the development of vocational skills and training across Europe, including work placements for trainees, the Leonardo Programme has a budget of €1.75bn, which is helping to encourage UK organisations to work with their counterparts abroad. In what is expected to be another challenging year for employers in the UK automotive sector, S&B’s Chief Executive, Jon Winter, claims that the exchange initiative will bring many benefits to the Academy and its apprentices: “In a world of global automotive brands, it’s important for our learners to understand the international context of the industry they have chosen to make their career. This new exchange programme will enable apprentices and Academy staff alike to achieve a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities within the automotive arena in Europe. With the Academy’s influence also extending to the USA and Asia, there’s every possibility that this initiative could move further afield in the future.” Continued Winter: “The need for skilled technicians across the world is on the increase and we actively encourage our apprentices to look at broader horizons during their training. Many of them have already learned the phrase ‘Vorsprung durch Gelehrtheit’, quite simply, ‘Advancement through learning.” In the 2010/11 academic year, S&B doubled the number of successful Apprenticeships over the previous year with some 350 apprentices graduating from the Academy. At the same time, achievement levels reached an all-time high with an overall success rate of 85%. For those learners on the Advanced Apprenticeship three-year programme, success rates were even higher, at over 98%. PHOTO CAPTION: As part of their exchange visit, S&B Automotive Academy arranged for the German apprentices to visit Hampshire bus operator, Bluestar, at its Barton Park depot. The students are pictured with S&B’s Andy West (3rd right) and Steve Prewett, Bluestar’s Area Engineering Manager (2nd right). Ends http://www.sandbaa.com
  • Chicken factory probe ordered by health secretary

    An investigation into allegations of hygiene failings at poultry processing factories has been ordered by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt.
  • Cardiff Blues hope Gareth Anscombe represents Wales

    Cardiff Blues chief executive Richard Holland says the region would like to see Gareth Anscombe play for Wales.
  • Special needs pupils 'will be worse off', expert warns

    Children with special needs in Wales will be worse off than those in England if a new law is passed, a leading education solicitor has claimed.