AS THE snow began to fall over Oxfordshire more than 100 people ignored the biting cold to pay tribute to a fallen soldier yesterday.

Sapper Richard Walker from 28 Engineer Regiment was the first service victim of the Afghan conflict to be repatriated through RAF Brize Norton this year.

The 23-year-old, from Leeds, had been in Afghanistan since the start of September last year on his first tour of duty. He was killed on January 7 by a member of the Afghan National Army in an apparent ‘insider’ attack.

As the cortege carrying Sapper Walker’s coffin drew up next to Carterton’s memorial garden the area fell silent, save for the peals of the town’s new bell.

His family laid single red roses on top of his hearse before a small ripple of applause spread through the crowd that had gathered to lend them their support. The cortege then made its way down the A40 to Oxford, where more people stood in tribute as the cortege arrived at the John Radcliffe Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

Mary Collins, from Shipton-under-Wychwood, was among local people who turned out in Carterton.

She said: “He has laid his life down for us so we have to pay our respects, particularly when it is such a young life and he has left a little one behind.”