A former Lewes soldier is organising a moving tribute to his comrade and friend, the murdered serviceman Lee Rigby.
Tom Freret has launched an appeal for funds, which has gained widespread support in the town.
The money will be used to buy flowers for display at Lewes War Memorial, with any surplus going to services charities.
Drummer Rigby, 25, of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was killed by two assailants in a terrorist attack near the Royal Artillery Barracks in Woolwich, southeast London, on May 22.
Tom, of Firle Crescent, said: “It shocked and horrified me enough to find out that a soldier had been hacked to death in broad daylight metres from where I was based in Woolwich while carrying out public duties, even more so when I found out it was a friend of mine.”
They became friends when he met Drummer Rigby at Hounslow Barracks in 2008 and taught him music.
The victim was attacked in the street with knives and a cleaver. His death was condemned by political leaders in the United Kingdom and in the worldwide press.
Tom, 26, was seriously wounded when a rocket exploded just 30 metres from him while serving in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, five years ago. He was treated in hospital at Selly Oak, Birmingham, before returning to barracks. He has since left the Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment. “I am a drummer as well, good at music and I taught music to people including Lee,” he said.
He wanted to do something in memory of Drummer Rigby, but was quoted nearly £700 to have his name spelt out in flowers. This was beyond Tom’s pocket, so he launched the appeal in pubs and businesses across Lewes.
Now he hopes to have a floral tribute saying “Lee Rigby Stand Easy” at the War Memorial on the day of his funeral. Surplus funds will go to Help For Heroes and the Fusiliers’ Aid Society.
The murdered soldier was wearing a Help For Heroes jumper on the day he was attacked.
“Lewes has massive links to Remembrance Day,” said Tom, a member of Commercial Square Bonfire Society, “and I think this would be a fitting way of honouring Lee. It’s not political. I just want to do something for a mate. He was a really nice bloke.”
He added: “The support from around the world has been overwhelming and people have paid their respects to him at war memorials in towns and cities across the UK with flowers and candle-lit vigils.”