Page last updated at 13:08 GMT, Saturday, 8 August 2009 14:08 UK

Funeral of NI swine flu soldier

Lee Porter
Lee Porter, 30, died in a Surrey hospital last week

The funeral has taken place in Coleraine of a soldier who died last week from swine flu.

Lee Porter, who was 30 and bombardier in the Royal Artillery, died in a hospital in Surrey.

A statement released on behalf of his family read: "We have not only lost a son, a brother and a friend but the rock of our family."

The MoD had initially said Mr Porter had "existing health problems" complicated by the virus.

However, on Friday, it acknowledged it was wrong to say this after the soldier's family raised concerns.

"The MoD has apologised unreservedly to the family and for anything we said that they indicated caused concern at that tragic time," a spokesman said.

Mr Porter's family said: "Lee was a fit, healthy and active young man, who tragically died on 31st July 2009 from respiratory failure and pneumonia, caused by the H1N1 virus.


"He had no underlying health problem and completed a full Army medical in May of this year."

They told how he Lee joined the Army Cadet Force at the age of 13 and had a passion for target rifle shooting.

He progressed to the rank of Company Sergeant Major and at the age of 18 joined the Territorial Army (206 Battery Royal Artillery Volunteers) where he rose to the rank of Bombardier.

His full time occupation was with the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.

His family added that "he was very much a man who understood the meaning of the word 'service' and contributed so much to the nation."

Mr Porter's parents had been in the US when they heard he was sick and travelled to be with him in hospital in Surrey.

He died at Frimley Park Hospital last Friday. He was the first person from Northern Ireland to die after contracting swine flu.

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