It was the day an entire town stood still.
As the coffin of Fusilier Sam Flint Broughton, draped in the Union flag, was taken on its final journey from his Tithebarn Street home, Poulton fell silent as hundreds of people came together to pay their final respects to a courageous soldier they considered one of their own.
And as the cortege was led through the centre of the town, friends and family, traders and residents stood, heads bowed, side by side to honour a fallen hero. Soldiers from the Royal Regiment of Scotland, who Fusilier Flint-Broughton served so proudly, arrived on coaches to pay their respects.
Fusilier Flint-Broughton, of The Regiment’s 2nd Battalion, died on April 30 when the armoured Mastiff vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
And as he made his final journey to St Chad’s church, a packed market square swelled with tearful onlookers as the soldier’s hearse slowly made its way through the town, followed by a sea of soldiers and mourners.
Police stopped traffic around the town and people threw flowers on to the hearse, almost covering it in tributes, as it arrived at St Chad’s church to be met by a guard of honour.
There was standing room only inside the church and crowds poured out of the door and on to the streets outside as everyone stood silent for the service and listened through a public address system.
Revd Martin Keighley, vicar of St Chad’s, led the service.
He said: “It’s great you are here. In truth we wish we didn’t need to be.
“There’s so little we can do at a time like this it seems better, in some small way, this is a grief shared.
“Today is about the real Samuel Flint, Sam Broughton and that collection of nicknames by which you knew him.
“Army of angels, fallen hero if you wish, but also the lad next door, the close mate and the bloke in the adjoining billet.”
Siblings of the former Collegiate High School and St Aidan’s CE Technology College pupil - Porcha, Linsey, Corina, Daniel, Jason and David - also paid their respects to their brother.
David said: “Sam was a top soldier and amazing brother.
“He made us all very proud and losing him has left a big hole in all of our hearts.”
Corina added: “Sam was such an amazing little brother.
“He was caring, lovely and cheeky.
“He will never be forgotten and I will make sure we will never forget you. Your memory will always live on.”
And Linsey said: “Sam has made the whole family so proud of him.
“It’s impossible to put into words how much Sam will be missed by his friends and family.”
Revd Colin Butler, senior army chaplain for North West England, addressed the congregation during the 45 minute service.
He added: “Sam belonged to this community, he belonged to this place and, although we can’t do anything to change things, it’s right we are here today to firstly remember him.
“Sam was a young man at 21. Larger than life in someways and part of this company, part of a large, loving family and a lad who made his own contribution with his own personality and character.”
There were tears and a touching round of applause as the coffin bearing the Tithebarn Street soldier’s body was taken from the church and into the hearse before a final journey to Lytham Cemetery for committal.
Emotional onlookers explained their reasons for lining the streets.
William McElhinney, 56, of Blackpool Old Road, said: “I came out to pay my respects because he was one of our soldiers and I wanted to pay tribute to him.
“When I watched the coffin come out draped in the Union flag it was quite poignant.”
Anna Claire, 60, who works in the Co-Op in Poulton, said: “I turned out because he was a Poulton boy.
“It was such a well conducted service which showed an appreciation of his life and the work he has done with great respect.”