HEARTBROKEN friends have rallied to give a ‘kind and funny’ veteran the funeral he deserves after it was revealed he would receive a ‘paupers’ ceremony.
Raymond ‘Danny’ Daniels died after collapsing outside his home in Hamlet Way, Gosport, on his way to the funeral of a friend, on February 15.
The news of the 72-year-old’s sudden death left his pals at the Fox Tavern pub, where he was a regular, dismayed.
But when they were dealt the crushing blow by Gosport Borough Council, that because Mr Daniels was believed to have no surviving relatives there was no-one to pay for his funeral, they decided to take action.
Determined to give him a fitting send-off, Tammy Kent – a barmaid at the North Street pub – put out a rallying cry, one which has been answered by scores of kindhearted people from across the UK.
Tammy, 42, was blown away by the response. She said: ‘I have been overwhelmed. In the beginning he had nothing and no-one coming. Now he has got everything he deserves.’
She added: ‘He has got no family that we know of apart from his “Fox family” in the pub.
‘We just want to get some love and respect for him. This man being in a pauper’s grave shouldn’t happen.’
Mr Daniels is believed to have had a lengthy career in the Royal Navy, telling friends in the pub he had served on board HMS Ark Royal as a steward in the 1980s.
It’s understood he grew up in Salford, near Manchester, before moving to Gosport.
Since Tammy’s appeal went online, people have rallied to help.
Zodiac Florist, in Whitworth Road, Gosport, are providing flowers while members of the Royal British Legion Riders Branch and a team of standard bearers have agreed to provide a guard of honour, Tammy said.
‘We’ve got a bugler too, Tony Bishop, who is travelling all the way from Kent to be at the funeral,’ added Tammy.
‘My friend Lisa Lane is a celebrant and she has agreed to do a service. It’s amazing how people have reacted.’
On Sunday the pub staged a fundraiser to fuel the additional costs of the funeral.
More than 50 regulars toasted ‘Danny’ with his favourite drink, Three Bells Whisky, courtesy of landlord Steve Davis.
Pub-goer Pete Hunt had known Mr Daniels for over 20 years.
The 62-year-old said: ‘He was a lovely chap and as soon as you walked in the bar there would be a beer waiting for you and you would have a fight on your hands if you wanted to buy him a drink back.’
Friends Raymond Fitch and Andy Thwaites talked about their memories of Mr Daniels.
Andy said: ‘He would always be there taking the mick of us when we played pool and we will miss that now.’
The trio reminisced of afternoons spent listening to Danny putting Status Quo on the jukebox.
Andy said: ‘He was a massive Quo fan and if he was here it was all that was on the jukebox.’
Raymond said: ‘When we found out that he had no family, we thought we are his family and we wanted to give him a good send off.’
Andy added: ‘There is such a community spirit in this pub and we are all a big family who is there for one and another and Tammy is amazing.
‘I think what she has organised is really great.’
Pub regular Carl Girt, 35, added: ‘Danny was truly generous man and will be missed.’
Tammy added: ‘He was cheeky guy. Everyone knew him. He was so upbeat and happy.
‘He loved his drink and was a big Manchester United fan. We really miss him.’
Mr Daniels’ funeral is on Thursday, at 9.30am, at Ann’s Hill Cemetery, in Anns Hill Road, Gosport.
All are invited to attend.
Organisers have asked if current or ex-service personnel could be in uniform.