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Tributes paid to army medic Sgt Rhys John Coleman
A DEDICATED army medic and father who died only months before his wedding has been described as a caring and loving man by his grieving family.
Sgt Rhys John Coleman, 38, from Tadcaster, who was on Christmas leave, died suddenly on January 12 at the home he shared with his 31-year-old fiancée Helen Brough.
Helen said: “We were together for four-and-a-half years and were due to marry on March 2. I have had to change all the wedding flowers to funeral flowers now – that was an awful day.
“He was the most caring and loving man you could imagine. You think these things only happen to other people.”
She described her fiancé’s career as an army medic as “his whole life”.
“He loved it – there was nothing else he wanted to be doing,” she said.
“I got a letter this morning from the Lt Col of the First Royal Tank Regiment saying Rhys’s desire to help others was always at the forefront of his mind.”
Sgt Coleman, a former pupil of St Joseph’s Primary School in Tadcaster and St John Fisher in Harrogate, recently received a long-service and good conduct medal for a career which went back to 1991, when he joined the Territorial Army, before becoming a regular soldier in 1997.
His job saw him serve in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, and Afghanistan, as well as postings in Canada and Kenya where he helped to establish a new medical centre.
His mother, Jane Coleman, said the whole family was devastated and said her son had wanted to be a soldier since he was a boy.
She said: “He was a happy child. He was always playing at being a soldier and when he was in the TA he spent every weekend there.
“This has been such a shock to everybody,” she said.
“His grandmother is devastated.
“We are all coping – but only just.”
Sgt Coleman leaves his 12-year-old daughter, Cerys, from a previous relationship, fiancée Helen, parents Jane and Vernon and sisters Fiona and Ruth.
A military funeral will take place for Sgt Coleman at noon in Saint Joseph’s Church, Tadcaster, on Monday, February 4.
A private cremation will follow in York. Donations to Help for Heroes or the Royal British Legion.