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Veteran set for hero’s funeral after weekly’s appeal

A Second World War veteran destined for a pauper’s grave will now receive a hero’s send-off thanks to an appeal by a weekly newspaper.

The Thurrock Enquirer launched a front page appeal for funds after the death of Bomber Command veteran Stan Franks, who died alone at his home with no immediate family.

He looked set to be buried with little ceremony by the local council until editor Neil Speight heard about his story at a Remembrance Day service and launched an appeal for funds, kicked off by a donation from the paper.

Since then, he has been “overwhelmed” by the support received and Stan, who flew 31 missions over Germany in Lancaster Bombers at the age of 19, is set to have a funeral next month with full military tributes.

Said Neil: “Within moments of the paper hitting the streets I was getting phone calls and emails from businesses and individuals.

“Together with support from local community figures and the local branch of RAFA, we co-ordinated the appeal and we have enough to ensure a funeral that befits such a hero.

“I had met Stan a couple of times in recent years at various functions and that has made being able to help in this way extra special – but I am so touched by the way our local community has responded and so proud of the fact that we have been able to show off a local newspaper at its very best.

“It’s been somewhat unusual and I had to convince the Coroner’s office and the local hospital burials office that we were serious about this, so much so that I’ve ended up signing for the body and suchlike and I have to go back for his ashes afterwards but I have been able to pull everything together and organise a funeral that will see Stan off in fine style next month.

“His final journey will be a memorable one with full military tributes and the honour that he so deserved.”

Neil added it was hoped that Stan’s ashes could be scattered at RAF Mildenhall where he served in the war.