A VETERAN destined for a ‘pauper’s funeral’ was given a proper send-off after a community rallied to pay for his final farewell.
Paul Anderson died at a nursing home in Gosport after a short period of ill-health.
The 80-year-old solider was forced to leave his home in Lansdowne Avenue when his health deteriorated following a fall in March.
And with no family to cover the costs of his burial, Mr Anderson was going to be given a so-called ‘pauper’s funeral’ in Gosport.
But his heartbroken friends united to cover the cost and have him buried in his home village – next to his mother Muriel’s grave.
Hundreds of people supported the effort, donating more than £1,100 in a matter of days.
Christopher Young, who had known Paul for about 20 years, was one of those leading the fundraising charge.
The 56-year-old said: ‘Paul was a Portchester legend.
‘We couldn’t let him be buried in Gosport, we just couldn’t. He was a great guy.’
The friends started a crowdfunding page and held an Elvis night at Mr Anderson’s favourite pub, The Red Lion in West Street, Portchester.
Their efforts were also backed by Taylor & Wallis funeral directors, which organised the burial specially.
As a final tribute, Mr Anderson’s casket was taken on a tour of Portchester, passing his favourite pubs.
About 50 mourners packed out Roman Grove Cemetery, in Castle View Road, for his funeral.
Among those attending was a Royal Marine reserve, who was Mr Anderson’s friend, and piper.
Mr Anderson, who did his national service with the army as a young man, also had his casket draped with the Union flag.
Claire Wallace, landlady of The Red Lion was at the funeral. She said: ‘It was really emotional. It was a brilliant send-off. Paul would have been quite shocked how everyone pulled together.
‘This just shows the spirit of a place like Portchester.’
Mr Anderson had no children or next of kin.
After his army service, it is understood he spent the rest of his working life employed by various railway firms.
Ian Parker, director of Taylor & Wallis, said it was the first time in his career he had been part of such a funeral.
‘It was very special,’ he said. ‘It was wonderful to see people coming together.
‘It really was a nice thing to do for someone, to give them a good send-off.’
Mr Anderson died on May 23 and was buried on Thursday.