Page last updated at 14:03 GMT, Wednesday, 14 April 2010 15:03 UK

Funeral for County Durham soldier killed in Afghanistan

Serjeant Steven Campbell
Sjt Campbell leaves a wife and son and his parents

The funeral of a County Durham soldier killed in Afghanistan has taken place.

Serjeant Steven Campbell, 30, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was killed in an explosion while on foot patrol in Helmand, on 22 March.

Hundreds gathered at Holy Trinity Church in Pelton to pay tribute to the soldier, who was described as "one of the Army's rarest treasures".

Sjt Campbell, who joined the Army at the age of 18, was married with a son and described as a "superb soldier."

His commanding officer, Lt Col Nick Kitson, said it was "truly an honour and a pleasure to know him".

Describing him as "so positive and energetic", he said he was "one of the Army's rarest treasures".

Colonel Ted Shields, of the 3rd Battalion The Rifles, said: "Whenever the going got tough, Stevie Campbell was there with a smile on his face.

"To be an infantry soldier, you need to be supremely fit and highly professional in all the skills you need to survive on the battlefield. Add to that the enthusiasm he had and you have a fantastic combination for a superb soldier."

Col Ted Shields described Sjt Campbell as an inspiration.

During the service, comrades paid tribute to his fine sense of humour, his love of his football team Newcastle United, and for his family.

During the service, friend Cpl Ryan Portman said Sjt Campbell had served in Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said: "He was a magnificent soldier and very experienced. As a leader there was no-one better."

Cpl Portman said his comrade's gap-toothed smile raised morale wherever he went.

The dead soldier's parents Linda and Steven comforted each other as they left, while his brother Stuart, 27, wept.

Sjt Campbell's widow Lisa walked behind the coffin, accompanied by Brandon who wore a dark green beret with his uniform.

In a statement, his family said: "He was a loving husband to Lisa and a loving father to Brandon, and he will be missed by all his family and friends."

The 3rd Battalion The Rifles retains the archaic spelling of serjeant and therefore BBC News uses this spelling in stories reporting deaths from this battalion.

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