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Welsh Guards to attend old soldier's funeral after social media appeal

Posted on: November 12, 2014 4:52 PM
The Welsh Guards are among people who are going to give former Welsh Guard Harold Morgan a proper send off
Photo Credit: Ronnie Macdonald/Flickr
Related Categories: Llandaff, Wales

From the Church in Wales

A contingent of Welsh Guards are to give an old soldier a proper send off after an appeal to track down mourners was launched by a church on social media.

The funeral of former Welsh Guard Harold Morgan, 85, who lived in a care home in Barry for 14 years is to be held tomorrow at St Tathan Church, St Athan, at noon. It had been feared that nobody would turn up after funeral directors and the church struggled to track down family and friends.

Former Welsh Guard Harold Morgan
Former Welsh Guard Harold Morgan
Photo Credit: Church in Wales

But thanks to an appeal launched on Facebook by the vicar who is to preside over his service, a contingent of Welsh Guards are to join local veterans to give him a proper send-off. Local people and friends of Mr Morgan have also started to come forward and confirmed they will be attending tomorrow.

The Revd Rachel Simpson said, “When we first had the details of the funeral come through we were given no next of kin details, which is very unusual, so I was worried at the service there would only be the solicitors and the nurses from the nursing home and that's not a very nice way to go.”
But after the story was taken up by newspapers across the country and Rachel was interviewed by television and radio including Radio 4’s Today programme, more and more people started to come forward wanting to attend and it now seems that the church is going to be packed.

“I thought I would just put out a quick message on Facebook to see if we could trace some people who used to know him when he lived in the area but the story has just been taken off everywhere. We are now expecting so many people that we might even have to put up speakers outside.

“I am really pleased for Harold that his funeral is not now going to be held in an empty church, even though it was sad we had to make an appeal in this way, I am so proud of the response from the community – many of whom are coming to the funeral of a man they may never even have met.”

The Assistant Bishop of Llandaff, David Wilbourne said, “I am deeply grateful for the particular care that Revd Rachel Simpson has taken over the funeral of Harold Morgan, not least for her initiative in inviting Harold’s friends and acquaintances to attend the funeral through the parish’s Facebook page. It would have been tragic if this old soldier’s funeral had gone unnoticed, particularly in this week of poignant Remembrance.

“A passage from Ecclesiasticus, often read at funerals, speaks of those who seem unremembered, disappearing as though they had not existed, as though they had never been. The book was written 22 centuries ago, so clearly no-shows at funerals were a feature then! I have taken funerals of very elderly people, attended by very few, simply because their relations and friends have died before them or moved far away.

“On such occasions I was very grateful for the support of church wardens and church officers, who made sure that we at least had a small congregation to mark their passing. I also felt very privileged to be leading such funerals, not least marking that though they may have seemed forgotten by the world, God had not forgotten them, but cherished them as his child and welcomed them home.”

Through the Facebook appeal it emerged Mr Morgan, who had lived in Owain Court before moving to a care home in Barry, was a founding member of the Welsh Railways Research Circle.

Rodney Hall, secretary of the Welsh Railways Research Circle, confirmed a number of the group’s members would be at the funeral.

He said: “A couple of our members continued to visit Mr Morgan when he went into the home. But it appears they did not get the message he had passed away. I plan to go to the funeral as do a number of other circle members who remember him.”

Following Mr Morgan’s funeral in St Athan tomorrow he is to have a green interment at a burial field in Abermule, Montgomeryshire – at a site overlooking the Cambrian Railway. Mr Morgan, who had been a railway signalman, did his national service with the Welsh Guards and was posted to Egypt.

A number of people have placed messages of support on the St Tathan Church Facebook site.They included Dennis Knowles who said: “I am a Welsh Guards Association Standard Bearer. I will gladly assist in giving this old soldier the ‘march off’ he deserves.”