DOZENS of residents turned out to pay their respects to a "proud" Navy captain whose funeral was held at St Helens Crematoium.

Standard bearers greeted the arrival of the coffin of Keith Rigby ahead of a funeral service on Monday morning.

The Royal British Legion had last week issued an appeal to the community of St Helens to attend the funeral, after Keith had died with no immediate family or friends.

Keith, who died on August 1 aged 74, had lived the final years of his life as a "recluse" in a flat in Halewood.

The Hale Branch of the RBL asked for people to turn out and celebrate Keith's life with fears the funeral may have otherwise had a poor turnout.


Floral tributes to Keith

Floral tributes to Keith


The service heard that Keith grew up in Wavertree, Liverpool and attended Sefton Park School.

It was said that during his schooldays when pupils were offered the chance to take over the lesson "Keith had a vivid imagination and enjoyed telling stories" and "in the way Keith told stories all the kids knew they weren't going home when the bell went until he was made to wrap it up".

He also enjoyed puppet shows at home.

It was added Keith "kept himself to himself" and "he was happy in his own company". The service was told Keith later joined the merchant navy and went to Malta.


Keith Rigby

Keith Rigby


Keith "loved a tipple of whisky and loved the Royal family and was very patriotic and was proud to serve his country in the navy", the congregation was told.

"Keith was a very traditional man, he was old school".

Reverend Bill Matthews then read out poem I Am Standing Upon the Seashore, followed by Psalm 107, which makes reference to ships and the sea.

He then read out a merchant navy prayer.


Keith Rigby

Keith Rigby


Keith's body was then given a final farewell before his cremation, with a section of Laurence Binyon's For the Fallen read out, including the lines "They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old"

Meanwhile, the Kohima Epitaph "When you go home, tell them of us and say, for your tomorrow, we gave our today" was also spoken and The Last Post played as the curtain closed around Keith's coffin.

Poem Sea-Fever was then read and final piece of music Cavatina, from The Deer hunter, was played.

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Among those who attended the funeral were St Helens North MP Conor McGinn, leader of St Helens Borough Council Cllr David Baines and deputy council leader Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron.

After the funeral, Mr McGinn said: “St Helens has a strong connection with the Armed Forces and the large turnout from local veterans and members of the public for Mr Rigby’s funeral was a fitting tribute.

“I was glad to be there to show my respect for Mr Rigby and his service in the Royal Navy, and to thank the Royal British Legion and veterans from across Merseyside and the North West for their efforts to ensure he was given the send-off he deserved.”


Floral tributes at the Crematorium

Floral tributes at the Crematorium


Cllr Gomez-Aspron added: “Whenever anyone dedicates part of their life to serving their country, the least we can do in return is ensure they’re given a respectful funeral.

"A huge thanks go to FunkyBunch florist and Pam Lewis in Earlestown for donating flowers, and to our local veterans for turning out with standards to pay tribute.”