HUNDREDS of people are expected to pay their respects to a Tamworth war veteran - after an email sent by the nursing home where he passed away went global.
The mission of nursing home manager Chris Homer to ensure that war veteran Albert Vaughan has a fitting send-off began with one email.
“After learning of Albert’s death I thought this is a man who has served our country. He has done so much for us,” said Chris, of Marmion Nursing Home in Stretton Street, Glascote.
“We’ve held funerals before of residents who don’t have many family left, and there’s usually just a handful of staff from the home that attend.”
Albert passed away in Good Hope Hospital last Monday (March 25) just two hours after his 89th birthday, after battling pneumonia.
With only a few family members left after his daughter Linda Croot died in 2011, Chris was determined for as many people as possible to pay their respects to the former Royal Marine.
When he sent a message to the National Ex-Services Association just days after Albert’s death, he could not have imagined the huge response that would follow after his message was shared on Facebook.
There have been calls and emails from as far as India, Dubai and Australia, the backing of organisations that support the Armed Forces – and now between 200 and 500 people are expected to be coming to the funeral.
He said: “The response has been phenomenal, my phone just hasn’t stopped ringing.
“It’s just all been so touching.”
The funeral, which takes place on Friday, April 12 at Sutton Crematorium from 1.30pm, will see representatives from the Royal British Legion, Veterans Association UK and the National Ex-services Association stand side-by-side in a fitting tribute.
A bugle player from the Legion will play The Last Post at the service.
Before the funeral, a church service will be held at St Editha’s Church from 12.30pm, with a wake at Glascote Social Club from 2.30pm.
It is believed that Albert joined the Marines when he was enlisted for National Service at the age of 18 in 1942, and served in Malaysia. He left the forces following a shrapnel injury.
Albert first came to the Stretton Street nursing home in 1991, after being diagnosed with mental health issues.
Although he was private about his time in the Marines, the Tamworth-based nursing home arranged for Albert to receive his Veterans Badge around two-and-a-half years ago.
“When it arrived, the smile on his face was unbelievable,” said Chris.
“For a gentleman who found it very hard to express emotion, his face just lit up. For Albert, it was as though ten Christmases had come at once.”
Josie Hayes, 52, of Longbridge, Birmingham is Albert’s daughter’s sister. She will be attending the service alongside his two grandsons.
She told the Herald: “This is a fitting tribute to Albert – at the end of the day he served our country and should be honoured and recognised for this. It’s really moving to hear the response and I want to say thank you to Chris.
“I will be there for my sister, Linda – she loved her dad and was always there for him.”
“[Marmion Nursing Home] also gave him fantastic care, and helped put Linda’s mind at rest.”