Poppies for Albert at final farewell

The coffin is carried into Riddlesden United Reformed Church for the funeral of Albert Joyner

Albert Joyner

First published in News by

An emotional last farewell has been paid to the man who became the country’s oldest surviving former Royal Marine.

The village church where Albert Joyner worshipped was packed for his funeral.

Appropriately, among the medals on his ensign-draped coffin was a wreath of poppies.

Mr Joyner, who died last month aged 102, raised thousands of pounds in Keighley for the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Legion colleagues, former and serving marines and young cadets were at Riddlesden United Reformed Church to give their comrade a fitting send-off. A guard of honour was formed outside the church.

They were joined at Friday’s service by mourners including the Lord Mayor of Bradford, Keighley councillor Khadim Hussain, town mayor Coun Sally Walker and Deputy Lord Lieutenant Richard Jackson.

Charlie Hobson, of the Royal Marines Association, told the congregation Mr Joyner was a “very special man”.

“He joined the marines in 1930-31 and loved his time in the corps and everything about what it represented,” he said.

“Albert – who was around during that awful war – was steeped in the marines’ ethos and selflessly did so much for other people, day in day out, week in week out and year in, year out.

“Remembrance of his fellow comrades who had fallen really meant a lot to him and he was fiercely proud of what he and his colleagues stood up for. He had courage and determination and was a great example.”

Mr Joyner was awarded life membership of the association last year.

Mr Jackson also paid tribute on behalf of the Legion and the Queen.

“He was a highly distinguished gentleman who was defined by the commando spirit – doing things the rest of us would deem impossible,” he said. “He radiated character before he had even spoken. And the revenues he generated for the Legion in his determination to be the top poppy collector were legendary – he raised £18,000 in his past eight years for the Poppy Appeal.

“But, as with so many exceptional people, the exceptional thing about Albert was his humility. He experienced incredible things at extremes of the human spectrum but he had absolutely no ego or sense of personal regard.”

The Rev Fred Rich, who conducted the service, said Albert loved dancing and had met his future wife – Rose – at a dance. They married in 1938.

The couple moved to Keighley in 1988 to be near their daughter, Pam.

Rose died in 2000 and Mr Joyner – an apprentice tailor before joining the marines – spent several years at Tonson Court sheltered housing scheme in Keighley.

Latterly he was a resident at Herncliffe Nursing Home in the town.

Donations from the service will be split between the Royal British Legion, Royal Marines Association and Cancer Research UK.

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