Lee Rigby's death united nation, says family

The family of murdered Fusilier Lee Rigby have said the nation is only more united as a result of the soldier's death.

An all night vigil was held the parish church in Bury, Greater Manchester, ahead of his funeral at 11am today.

His mother, Lyn, widow, Rebecca, their son Jack and other family members were present for a short private service and prayers last night. 

Fusilier Rigby, of 2nd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed while returning to Woolwich barracks in London on May 22.  Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, have been charged with his murder and are due to stand trial at the Old Bailey on November 18.

His murder was condemned by the nation's political and faith leaders.  Prime Minister David Cameron told the Commons this week that the whole nation would be mourning with the family at this morning's funeral service.

Leaders from the different faiths made a united stand in the aftermath of the killing and issued calls for peace and reconciliation.

Rigby's stepfather, Ian told The Times ahead of today's funeral: "Whatever the intention was, it has backfired because it has made Lee into a hero and martyr.

"We have had letters and cards from all over the world in support and just offering their best wishes.

"The country is united. Whatever elements may wish to stop it, it is not working because it is working the other way."

Mrs Rigby said: "We have had an awful lot of support from across the world. It has been overwhelming.

"We have had masses of cards, letters and donations from everywhere. It is unbelievable really the things that have been coming in.

"We have had letters from the prime minister, from senior politicians from all parties, the Duke of Kent, from the Sikh community. Various large mosques and interfaith groups have been in touch with letters of condolences and such.

"That basically has given us the strength to get through this time."