The parents of a soldier who died while on a snowboarding holiday in France said goodbye to their ‘hero soldier son’ today.
Friends, family and comrades joined them in paying their respects to 26-year-old Simon Daw, from Cardiff.
Corporal Daw had already served four tours of Afghanistan and was enjoying a short snowboarding holiday with two Army friends at the French skiing resort of Les Deux Alpes in February when he went missing.
Cpl Daw, from Pontprennau, had failed to return to their base after a night out and his body was discovered two months later.
More than 250 mourners gathered at Thornhill Crematorium in Cardiff for his funeral.
Draped in the British Standard with his belt buckle, service medals, service hat and a wreath, Cpl Daw’s coffin was carried into Wenallt Chapel by six pallbearers from his regiment 1st Battalion The Royal Welsh as his parents Vince and Julie, brother Joe and sister Kate looked on.
Leading the tributes was Cpl Daw’s army colleague and best friend Luke Phillips.
Fighting back tears, Cpl Phillips said: “He was the best friend you could ever ask for.”
He said all the young soldiers idolised him and described him as a passionate person who didn’t do things by halves.
The service heard how Cpl Daw joined the army in 2005 and completed training at Catterick in North Yorkshire.
Senior army padre, Reverend Phillip Bosher, said Cpl Daw’s father Vince remembered taking a “skinny gangly boy” to the train station for Catterick and wondered if he would go the distance.
Rev Bosher said Cpl Daw soon grew into a fit young soldier, full of confidence and direction, ready for his first tour of Afghanistan.
Speaking on behalf of Cpl Daw’s family, Rev Bosher said: “He was a lovely baby who grew into a lovely lad, well liked by everyone that met him and at early age he showed a distinct talent for art that would amaze our friends and family that came to visit.”
He left Corpus Christi High School not knowing what he wanted for his future but was full of dreams, he said.
The service heard how Cpl Daw was known for having the best military kit and loved to buy new gear – often spending thousands of pounds in the process.
Rev Bosher said: “Life in the army was tailor-made for Simon. He loved to come home and tell his family about his adventures.”
His family said his life was short but that he packed a lot into it – travelling to countries he would never have gone to had he not been a solider.
Rev Bosher said he got paid for doing something he loved and found his “band of army brothers”.
His family said: “We are so proud of our Simon – our hero soldier son. He will always be remembered and will never be forgotten.
“Whilst we will miss him every day of our lives, Simon will continue to live as strongly in our hearts and in our minds as he has always done.”
Cpl Daw’s commanding officer, Major Owain Luke of B Company 1 Royal Welsh, called him a fit, robust and highly-motivated soldier who everyone admired.
Major Luke said he was a “rising star”, highly regarded by everyone and “hero-worshipped” by many in the company.
The service also included the playing of Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah – a favourite of Cpl Daw’s family, which the service was told reminded them of him.
The Last Post was played and the service ended with the sound of Swedish House Mafia’s Don’t You Worry Child.