Colchester: Family Gather For Soldier's Funeral

11 May 2012, 08:18 | Updated: 11 May 2012, 08:22

The family of a Colchester-based soldier fatally injured by an improvised bomb in Afghanistan have paid tribute to him ahead of his funeral.

20-year-old Sapper Connor Ray,of 33 Engineer Regiment will be given full military honours at his funeral at St Woolas Cathedral in Newport, South Wales, today (Friday May 11th).

He was fatally injured during a search and clearance operation in the Nad-e Ali district of central Helmand near Checkpoint Kahmanan on April 11th.

Sapper Ray was part of a mission to clear a compound previously used by insurgents, allowing local people to safely return to the area, when he was seriously injured in an IED blast.

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

"Connor was such a kind-hearted, good-natured and amusing guy with a curious taste for '80s power ballads,'' his family said in a moving tribute.

"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.

"One of four children, his older brother Vinnie was his life-long best friend. His sister Hollie, with Connor's sense of humour, was his double, and sister Bonnie remembers not so warmly being the youngest of the four - therefore tormented by the three of them.''

The funeral service, with full military honours, will be held at the cathedral.

A private committal service for family and close friends will take place later at Gwent Crematorium.