Funeral for security guard killed in Gaza

The funeral of a security guard killed in an Israeli air strike has taken place in Bristol.

James Kirby, 47, was one of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers killed in the attack on 1 April, including two other Britons.

Around 400 mourners gathered at St Mary Redcliffe church on Wednesday to pay their respects to Mr Kirby.

His best friend Brendan Forbes said: “It’s quite hard to quantify the magnitude of what has happened to such a great guy.”

Part of WCK’s security team, Mr Kirby was killed when Israeli armed drones fired munitions through three marked vehicles in the aid convoy as it left one of the group’s warehouses in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City.

The charity said the convoy had just unloaded more than 100 tonnes of food aid brought from overseas.

Britons John Chapman, 57 and James “Jim” Henderson, 33, also died in the attack and have since been repatriated.

Mr Forbes had been friends with Mr Kirby since they were Army cadets, aged 13.

“I’ve known him as a best friend, I’ve known him as an impeccable soldier,” he said.

“Even when we left the Army we worked together as carpenters on building sites.

“He’s my brother.

“He was also the kind of guy that would read the room really well and he would bring you in.

“Out of a room of 100 people he would make you feel like you were the only one,” he added.

“I think that’s why he has so many friends.”

Brendan Forbes in a suit, standing outside the funeralBrendan Forbes in a suit, standing outside the funeral

“We were incredibly close. We were breaking bread every week,” said Brendan Forbes [BBC]

“Wherever James was, Bristol was,” added My Forbes.

“Everyone knew where Bristol was when they spoke to Kirbs.”

He said their last conversation was when Mr Kirby was at the airport on his way to Gaza.

“I was more than happy that he was certain that he was on a good job.”

A flower arrangement saying 'son'A flower arrangement saying 'son'

Family flowers were laid outside the church [BBC]

On Tuesday, ahead of the funeral, Mr Kirby’s mother, Jacqui, described him as , “a remarkable man”.

She added: “I will miss him beyond measure and cannot comprehend a future without his presence.”

‘Amazing guy’

Another friend attending the funeral, Veiner Gaston, described Mr Kirby as “a good friend” and “a brother” who was always there for him.

The two became friends after spending six months working together in Afghanistan.

“He was an amazing guy. There was never a dull moment with him.

“He would make you feel special,” he said, adding: “He never asked anyone for anything.”

Mr Gaston said: “It’s been hard without him.”

He added that his friend was “quite excited” about going to help the people of Gaza.

“It made him happy, helping people.”

Veiner Gaston in a grey suit standing outside the funeralVeiner Gaston in a grey suit standing outside the funeral

Veiner Gaston said Mr Kirby “would make everyone smile” [BBC]

Canon Dan Tyndall, the vicar of St Mary Redcliffe, who led the service, said: “As James served the world and his country in life, I hope what we’re going to do is serve James in his death.”

He explained people were joining the live stream of the funeral from around the world.

“We need to do what we can to celebrate the life and to mourn the loss of someone who gave his life in the service of the country and in the service of wider humanity.”

Canon Tyndall encouraged people to light a candle whilst watching the service online, explaining there would be seven candles lit on the alter for each of the aid workers who were killed.

“Those candles will then go on from here to the next funeral next week and the third one next week.”

They will then be distributed to the seven families of the aid workers who died.

“We’re trying to reinforce the notion that light is stronger than darkness and that love is stronger than hate,” he added.

Follow BBC Bristol on Facebook, X and Instagram. Send your story ideas to us on email or via WhatsApp on 0800 313 4630.

More on this story

Source link