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Norfolk trooper in repatriation ceremony

PUBLISHED: 18:30 30 July 2009 | UPDATED: 15:19 07 July 2010

A Norfolk-based trooper described by his colleagues as having a heart of gold was brought back to the UK today in a repatriation ceremony held at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

A Norfolk-based trooper described by his colleagues as having a heart of gold was brought back to the UK today in a repatriation ceremony held at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.

Trooper Phillip Lawrence, of The Light Dragoons, was killed on Monday during a blast while driving an armoured vehicle in Lashkar Gah district, Helmand.

He had been helping ensure the security of an area which had been cleared as part of Operation Panther's Claw - an offensive against the Taliban.

Two other soldiers also repatriated yesterday were Bombardier Craig Hopson, of 40th Regiment Royal Artillery and Warrant Officer Class 2 Sean Upton, of the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery.

A crowd of hundreds, including shopkeepers, British Legion members, families and veterans, lined the streets of the market town to pay their respects to the three soldiers, an event which has become tradition.

The three coffins were driven past on their way to the John Radcliffe hospital, in Oxfordshire, showered in flowers brought by the crowd.

Trooper Lawrence, nick-named Lenny and originally from Birkenhead, leaves a wife, Amy, and baby daughter Jessica, who are believed to live locally to the Dragoons' base.

Major Sam Plant, officer commanding C Squadron, said: “A more decent and selfless man one could not wish to meet.”

Other colleagues and friends said he had a heart of solid gold, was conscientious and reliable and would leave a void within 2nd Troop.

Tpr Lawrence recently represented C Squadron in a regimental boxing competition and last year he boxed in the RAC championships.

He was a passionate football fan, a skilful gunner and enjoyed karaoke and dancing.

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