A GUARD of honour will be formed at the funeral of a popular lifeboat volunteer who has died, aged 35.

Rhyl lifeboat colleagues will join family and friends to say farewell to Ben Hirst on Wednesday, January 16.

Ben, a father-of-two, will be carried down a route on the inshore lifeboat. The cortege will proceed to the lifeboat station, where crew will observe a silence for their shipmate.

Ben was a popular volunteer. Picture: RNLI/Rhyl

A service will be held at 11.15am at St Thomas’ Church, Rhyl.

A guard of honour will be provided by crew. The family have kindly asked for it to be made clear that all are welcome to attend the service at St Thomas' Church, but the silence is private - for the family and the RNLI.

A service at St Asaph Crematorium will follow.

Ben, who had represented Wales as a finalist for Britain’s Strongest Man, went by the nicknames of ‘Big Ben’ and ‘Ding-Dong’.

The former Rhyl High School pupil, described as a ‘hero’ when he rushed to the aid of a girl in 2016 after she was hit by a vehicle on Churton Road, died on Saturday, December 22.

Arlena Thornton, Ben’s sister, said: “We are very proud of the RNLI who will be involved in the funeral, particularly with the procession, where Ben’s coffin will be taken to the lifeboat station for a respectful one minute silence before heading to the church. Please be respectful, the time spent at the lifeboat station is for family and RLNI members only.

“My brother was a much respected and loved figure in Rhyl.

“The morning he passed, it caused shock and disbelief to many. Please join us, as we do the one final thing we can do for Ben, let’s make sure he has the most amazing send off that we can give.”

A spokesman for Rhyl RNLI Lifeboat said: “Ben was a very popular member of the lifeboat crew at Rhyl.

“He would go out of his way to help anyone who asked.

“Ben had been a volunteer crew member on both the inshore and all-weather lifeboats at Rhyl for more than four years.

“He would be willing to do any task at the station.”

Ben was described as a someone with a “heart of gold” and “one of the true gentle giants of this world”.