Hero’s send off for ‘finest of soldiers’ who died in crash

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A hero’s send-off was given to a man described as “the finest of soldiers” who died overseas.

Sergeant Anthony Oxley, 40, from Ryhill, died after a motorcycle crash in Cyprus, where he was stationed on June 14.

And more than 500 armed forces servicemen and women joined family and friends to remember the former Drum Major at St Michael and Our Lady’s Church in Nostell Priory on Monday.

He was laid to rest alongside his parents, with military honours, a gun salute and the sound of the Last Post during a second ceremony at St Peter’s Felkirk Church in South Hiendley.

His sister, Sharon Hemingway, said: “It was very sad and an emotional day but it was the proudest day of my life.

“Anthony was my best friend. He was everything to me and my world.”

Father-of-three Sgt Oxley joined the army aged 19 and became fully qualified for service in 1995. He served with the Yorkshire Regiment as well as 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment at the Akrotiri base in Cyprus.

Sgt Oxley had been stationed on the Mediterranean island for the past six years .

But last month he was involved in the fatal collision.

He was airlifted to the island’s Nicosia General Hospital but died the same day from his injuries.

Mourners were told that Sgt Oxley served as a Drummer, Bugler, Sniper and a Warrior Vehicle Commander before being promoted to the rank of Corporal in 2004.

He later held roles as Drum Major and Sniper Section Commander serving in operations across the world including in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Sgt Oxley was described by his superiors at the ceremony as “the very finest of soldiers, the very best Drum Major, mentor, friend, dad and loving husband” and as being “proud for all that he stood for, believed in and valued. The epitome of a man.”

While serving as a Bugler, he won the prestigious accolade of Best Bugler for his regiment.

Mrs Hemingway, also from Ryhill, said: “Nobody in the army could play the Last Post like my brother.

“They used to take him across the world to play it and he played at Armistice Day in London last November.”

After the two services, more than 400 people attended a wake in Ryhill to celebrate Sgt Oxley’s life.

Mrs Hemingway added: “He lost his parents when he was young and me and Anthony were the proudest of siblings.

“I think his funeral was the first service of its kind for a soldier that hasn’t died in action. To give him that honour, it means the army valued him so much.”

Sgt Oxley leaves behind his wife-of-six-years Sally, his daughters Honiiee-Mai and Charlie and son Dion as well as his three step-children, Kourtney, Harry and Nathan.