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A funeral with full military honours has been held in Portsmouth today (Nov 22nd) for a Territorial Army soldier shot dead in Afghanistan.
Sapper William Blanchard, 39, of 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) was killed by small arms fire in the Nahr-e Saraj North District of Helmand Province on October 30.
A radiation protection officer by profession and a science graduate, Sapper Blanchard, from Gosport, Hampshire, had volunteered for the 101 (City of London) Engineer Regiment (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) since 2007 and deployed to Afghanistan in September.
He was serving with the Counter-Improvised Explosive Device Task Force and was attending the scene of a suspect device when he was shot.
Members of the regiment lined up outside the Anglican Cathedral in Portsmouth as the coffin was carried inside, followed by Sapper Blanchard's widow Suzanne and his son and daughter, Tom and Lucy.
Mourners at the funeral wore orange items because it was Sapper Blanchard's favourite colour.
His father, the Rev Canon Laurie Blanchard, the canon of Ely Cathedral in Cambridgeshire, delivered the sermon.
Outside the cathedral, Giles Cowling, a colleague at Sapper Blanchard's workplace, the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL), said:
"He was an incredibly big-hearted person, respected and liked by those he worked with.
"He loved life and had an incredible drive and enthusiasm for what he took on.''
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Budden, Commanding Officer of 101 Regiment, who flew in from Afghanistan for the funeral, said:
"He was an exceptional person.
"He was more mature than the usual sapper but he brought a host of experience with him from his civilian employment.
"Energetic, enthusiastic, dedicated, committed, selfless - that's Will.''
His widow Suzanne Blanchard said:
"Will was a wonderful husband, son, brother, father, brother-in-law, son-in-law and friend.
"Sorely missed; always in our hearts, never forgotten by his devastated family, friends and colleagues and his beloved wife.''
Sapper Blanchard was also a scout leader with the Warsash Sea Scout Group, based near Southampton.