Gun salute for Neil, “a big man with a big heart”

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A larger than life character has died after being struck down by a rare illness.

Self-employed electrician Mr Neil Killin, who was a well-known Second World War re-enactor, died in the Royal Blackburn Hospital aged just 50 from complications connected to cyclic vomitting syndrome.

Photo Neil Cross
WW2 re-enactors in full uniform firing gun salute at funeral of Neil Killin at Burnley Crematorium

Photo Neil Cross WW2 re-enactors in full uniform firing gun salute at funeral of Neil Killin at Burnley Crematorium

Mr Killin, of Hollingreave Road, Burnley Wood, was a familiar face at wartime “battles” and re-enactments across the region, and recently attended the Padiham on Parade event.

His funeral on Wednesday at Burnley Crematorium saw 13 of his friends from the North West Military Collectors group dressed in full US Army uniform fire off a blank gun salute.

He was described as a “big man with a big heart” at a packed Burnley Crematorium.

Daughter Amy Crossley said: “My mum, siblings and I are just shell-shocked.

Neil Killin

Neil Killin

“Dad started with this condition about two years ago, which resulted in him being sick for a few weeks at a time.

“He was managing it through medication and hadn’t been sick for nine months. Sadly, he suffered a setback recently and had to go into hospital.

“He was placed in intensive care, but all his organs began to shut down.

“It hasn’t really sunk in. He was like a safety net for me. I think we’re all a bit scared and apprehensive about the future.

Photo Neil Cross
WW2 re-enactors in full uniform firing gun salute at funeral of Neil Killin at Burnley Crematorium

Photo Neil Cross WW2 re-enactors in full uniform firing gun salute at funeral of Neil Killin at Burnley Crematorium

“He has left a massive hole. Even at the very end he was still cracking jokes, putting everyone before himself.”

Neil, who was married to Jane, also leaves dad Ian, children Natasha, Tarrah and Lucy and lots of other family.

The couple were featured in the Burnley Express in 2011 when the family became sick following a holiday in Bulgaria, although it is not thought this was connected to Neil’s death.

Neil, who was also a keen music fan, was a regular face at Friday karaoke nights at Burnley’s Inn on the Wharf.

His fellow war re-enactor Steve also paid tribute to his “generous” friend.

Steve said: “Neil was such a nice man. I visited him in hospital shortly before he died and he asked me to thank the ambulance driver who brought him in.

“He was such a big character. Everyone has got a lot of tales and fond memories of him.

“He had lots of different Second World War uniforms and really wanted to keep their memory alive.

“That was why Amy suggested we attend the funeral in uniform. It was a fitting tribute to him.”