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James Kirby: Crowds gather in Bristol for aid workers killed in Gaza

Large crowds turned out in Bristol to pay tribute to a British aid worker killed in Gaza. James Kirby, 47, was one of seven World Central Kitchen (WCK) workers killed in the attack on Monday, April 1.

His friends and family gathered to commemorate his life at St Mary Redcliffe Church this afternoon (Wednesday, May 15). James, who had fought in Bosnia and Afghanistan, was part of the WCK security team traveling with a convoy that had just unloaded more than 100 tonnes of much-needed food aid brought in from overseas.




He was killed in an Israeli airstrike along with two other Britons. Large crowds gathered and lined the streets to pay their respects today with a moving flower arrangement spelling out ‘SON’.

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Close family and close friends carried his coffin draped in the Union Jack into the churchyard before the service began. The parade was followed by uniformed representatives of the armed forces.

Among those paying tribute was Brendan Forbes, 46, an army friend of James’. He said: “I’ve known James since he was 13 and we joined the army cadets together.

“We found our passion for being outside and were best friends there. I joined the line infantry in 1994 and served in Bosnia and Afghanistan in separate companies for James.

“It was great to be friends with him for so many years. Absolutely perfect to walk into a crowded room and make you think you are the only person in that room.

“James had a wicked sense of humor. I had a mischievous friendship that was to make others laugh. I selfishly thought he was my best friend, but he is everyone’s best friend. There are many people who came to see him. .’

Brendan, who now runs a construction company in Edinburgh, added: “He just said, I’ve left a job. It wouldn’t work for people if it had a bad reputation.

“I spoke to him before he left. “I’ll see you when I get back,” he said. Veiner Gaston, 36, another friend of James’ who now lives in Edinburgh, added: ‘We went to Afghanistan together in 2011 serving with the rifles.

“He was my cover man. He was the one who physically protected me. I always said, You keep me from exploding, and I’ll keep you from getting shot.

“We kept in touch after that. We’d see each other throughout the year to catch up. He’d walk by and bring everybody in. He always treated everybody the same. He always made them laugh, made them smile .”


Speaking with teary eyes and a trembling voice, he added: “James said, I’m going to Gaza. He was hoping to return after the rotation. We planned to go on vacation together.

“He saw (going to Gaza) as a challenge to help someone. She would drop anything else to help him. In Afghanistan, on patrol, he would call a child and give them a chocolate bar.

“It’s hard being here. I won’t see him after this. He said, ‘When I get back I’ll come to Edinburgh. But I’ll keep you posted when I get back. I’ve thought about it. The guy he was bullet proof, i thought he was invincible.

Before the service, Jacqui Kirby, James’ mother, also made the following statement through Avon and Somerset Police. She said: “As we gather for the funeral service at St. Mary’s Redcliffe, to celebrate the life of my son James, I cannot express more deeply my gratitude for the outpouring of love I have seen over the weeks since his tragic death in Gaza.


“James was a remarkable man, a true friend to so many people and most of all he was my son. I will miss him beyond measure and cannot fathom a future without his presence.

“But it gives me great comfort to know that he died doing something that really mattered to him and that he was loved by so many people from all walks of life.”

Scroll down for pictures from today’s funeral.

1 out of 17(Image: Paul Gillis)
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11 out of 17

The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.


12 out of 17

The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.


13 out of 17

The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.


14 out of 17

The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.


15 out of 17

The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.


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The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.


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The funeral of James Kirby, at the Church of St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. May 15, 2024. Release date May 15, 2024. The funeral of a British aid worker killed in an Israeli airstrike last month takes place today in Bristol, UK. James Kirby was one of three British aid workers killed while delivering food to Gaza. The 47-year-old man died in the April 1 airstrike after the group unloaded 100 tons of food at a warehouse in Deir al-Balah, south of Gaza City. Mr Kirby, a former British soldier, was part of a World Central Kitchen (WCK) convoy containing three cars and was one of seven people attacked by rockets fired by Israeli drones.