Hun­dreds rally for funeral of war hero

Macclesfield Express - - FRONT PAGE - STUART GREER

HUN­DREDS of mourn­ers are ex­pected to at­tend the funeral of a 96-yearold war hero af­ter a so­cial me­dia cam­paign went vi­ral.

An online cam­paign was launched ask­ing the com­mu­nity to at­tend Harry Wheeler’s funeral af­ter he died in a Mac­cles­field care home without any known rel­a­tives.

It has reached more than 10,000 peo­ple in­clud­ing for­mer Cor­rie star Char­lie Law­son and Mac­cles­field vet­eran Wal­ter Freude­nau, who are call­ing on the com­mu­nity to help give Harry the send-off he de­serves.

Manny Botwe, head­teacher at Tyther­ing­ton School, has also or­gan­ised for 15 of the school’s mil­i­tary cadets to at­tend with ge­og­ra­phy teacher Neil Cooke.

He said: “We heard about the funeral and thought it’s a shame that there was no-one to at­tend so we thought it would be nice to send some stu­dents.

“There’s a sense of pass­ing on from the older gen­er­a­tion to the next gen­er­a­tion and we like to see the school as be­ing at the heart of the com­mu­nity. We are re­search­ing more about Harry Wheeler for the stu­dents to learn more in school.”

For­mer soap star Char­lie Law­son, 57, who lives in Prest­bury, said he was moved to at­tend the funeral as soon as he heard Harry’s story.

He said: “As soon as I heard about Harry my re­ac­tion was in­stant. I can be there at a drop of a hat and will make that ef­fort.

“There are pre­cious few of Harry’s gen­er­a­tion left and it is im­por­tant we rec- og­nise the sac­ri­fices him and so many oth­ers made.

“I would en­cour­age oth­ers to spare part of their morn­ing to sup­port Harry in his fi­nal mo­ments.”

Char­lie’s family has a strong mil­i­tary con­nec­tion. His fa­ther and three un­cles served in the Sec­ond World War. His un­cle Gor­don was killed in the Bat­tle of Monte Cassino in Italy.

Fel­low army vet­eran Wal­ter Freude­nau, from Mac­cles­field, also shared the ap­peal.

He said: “There is a say­ing: ‘ We never leave a brother be­hind and hon­our those who have died’, so that’s what we will do.”

Wal­ter also con­firmed there will be the lo­cal Royal Bri­tish Le­gion at­tend­ing with ban­ner bear­ers and bu­glers.

Harry served in the Royal Marines dur­ing the Sec­ond World War and was based for some time in Italy. His only family, his wife Enid and daugh­ter Su­san, died some years ago.

His funeral is tak­ing place at Mac­cles­field Crematorium to­mor­row (May 18) at 10.40am.

Harry’s friend, who wishes to re­main anony­mous, said the re­ac­tion to her ap­peal had been amaz­ing.

She said: “My ini­tial ap­peal was be­cause I feared there would be no one to mourn him at his funeral. It’s look­ing more and more likely that Harry will get the fitting send-off he de­serves. There are so many kind, car­ing, good peo­ple in our lo­cal com­mu­nity. It’s all very heart­warm­ing.”

See letters page for more about Harry.

Harry Wheeler died aged 96, with no sur­viv­ing rel­a­tives. Left: As a Royal Marine

For­mer Cor­rie ac­tor Char­lie Law­son has said he will at­tend – and is urg­ing oth­ers to do the same

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