‘We’re so proud of our son’

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A FUNERAL service with full military honours takes place today for Warrant Officer Christopher Ryder who was tragically killed in a motorbike accident near York last week.

WO2 Ryder, who was born and brought up in Hightown, had served his country for 24 years and his parents, Les and Diane, have been overwhelmed by the tributes paid to their 41-year-old son.

“We have read the messages on Facebook and can’t believe how many people’s lives he touched. We’re absolutely devastated at our loss, but the messages have brought us so much comfort,” said Les.

The funeral, at St Oswald’s Church, Fulford, will be a celebration of Chris’s life and include a 21-gun salute.

“We are so proud he achieved so much in his short life,” said Les. “He worked hard and he played hard. He was a real joker, always had a smile on his face and a laugh that was just unforgettable.”

Chris was an army cadet sergeant before he was 16, so a career in the army seemed inevitable.

He quickly rose through the ranks and served in many countries including Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, Kenya, Belize, Bosnia and Germany.

For the last five years he had worked in army recruitment and was Second in Command of the Yorkshire Regiment Recruiting Team.

His commanding officer Lieut Col D S Bradbury paid tribute to the “exemplary” officer saying: “He was a first class instructor and teacher. He was intelligent, an engaging personality, friendly and approachable. His other passion was sport, especially rugby league. He played at the highest military level representing the Army, Combined Services and his unit.

“WO2 Ryder was a professional soldier first and foremost and dedicated to the end. A personality within the Battalion and within the recruiting world, he will be sadly missed by all.”

His last posting on Facebook said: “Just finished two years at college to become a qualified teacher. Looking at inroads working sport and public service students. Looking forward to a change of pace and starting a new career.”

Chris lived with his partner, Gail, near Selby, and was a devoted father to Emma and Robbie.

A family statement said: “We thank everyone for their support and good wishes. Chris was the most loveable, understanding son, and brother to Stephen who he thought the world of. He will always be in our hearts and we’ll miss him so much. We are so proud he was our son and brother.”