‘Reliable’ Royal Marines veteran known as Johnny Cash’s number one fan saved from an unmarked grave after Armed Forces charities step in to pay for funeral

A PORTSMOUTH veteran is getting the funeral send-off he deserves thanks to the support of two Armed Forces charities.

Saturday, 21st August 2021, 4:55 am

Royal Marines veteran John Harley Campbell, known as Ian, died at the age of 78 on July 14.

With no family nearby, it was thought that Ian would be given an environmental health funeral from Portsmouth City Council, meaning that he would have an unmarked grave.

However, the Royal Marines Association together with Forgotten Veterans UK stepped in to ensure that Ian is properly honoured.

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Hayley Thornhill is a funeral arranger at Paulsgrove’s Forever Together Funeral Care branch, and will be helping to organise Ian’s final journey along with the two charities.

She said: ‘It’s a lovely thing to do - these two charities have stepped in and made sure that he gets the honour that he deserves as a Royal Marines veteran.

‘It’ll be a funeral with full military honours, and we’re hoping to have a Royal Marines bugler playing and maybe a bagpiper.’

Andrea, from Portsmouth, was very close friends with Ian.

The pair became friends 31 years ago when Ian helped Andrea move into her flat.

They lived next door to one another and stayed in touch for more than three decades.

Andrea said: ‘Ian knew his own mind, and he would do anything for anyone when he was well. A good friend - I am already missing him.

‘When I’ve lost somebody, he’s been the one I could talk to. He helped carry my partner’s coffin. You could rely on him to do anything.

‘We used to watch Billy Connolly together, and Ian was Johnny Cash’s number one fan. When Johnny Cash died, we thought it would be the finish of him.

‘He loved kids and he loved animals - he loved to walk, when he was still able. We used to go out for rides and have lunch.’

Andrea said that Ian was a ‘very proud Scotsman’ despite living in Portsmouth for decades.

She is pleased that the two charities have stepped forward to pay for Ian’s funeral.

Andrea added: ‘I think it’s great - I can’t really afford it, but there’s no way Ian was going to be given a council burial, he deserved better.’

Ian’s funeral will take place on August 24 at Portchester Crematorium.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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