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Regiment pays tribute to ‘an exceptional soldier and a close friend’

Friends and comrades of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment soldier who died in Wales over the weekend have paid tribute to an outstanding man who epitomised the very spirit of the regiment.

The soldier was fornally named tonight as Private Matthew Boyd, 20, and tributes were led by Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ivor Lopez, who said that the whole regiment had been devastated to learn about their comrade’s death.

“The regiment has lost a great soldier and a close friend,” Lt Col Lopez said.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with Matthew’s family and friends at this tragic time.”

The tributes came as police in Wales confirmed that two men had been arrested on suspicion of murder following Pte Boyd’s death.

A 23-year old man was arrested on Sunday  and tonight remained in police custody.

Detectives investigating the death arrested a second man on Monday, Dyfed Powys Police said.

The 22-year old was also being held in custody.

Neither of the two men had yet been charged.

Police in Wales said in a short statement: “Detectives investigating the murder of a serving member of the Armed Forces in Brecon confirm that they have arrested a further male aged 22 years in connection with this offence. The first male aged 23 years remains in police custody.”

Pte Boyd was found injured and unconscious on Lion Street in Brecon, Powys, at about 1am on Sunday.

According to UK press reports, he was assaulted outside a pub as he made the short journey back to his barracks.

Part of Brecon town centre was cordoned off on Sunday as police investigated the death.

Inspector Jacqui Lovatt, of Dyfed Powys Police, said yesterday: “We would very much like to thank the military personnel and local community for all their continued support during this investigation and what is a truly tragic circumstance.”

“There is nothing to suggest that Matthew Boyd being a soldier was a motivation for this assault, nor is there anything to indicate any links to terrorism.”

“Our deepest thoughts go out to Matthew’s family, friends and regiment. The military are very much a part of the Brecon community and we will continue working together to maintain this,” the inspector added.

Police in Brecon continue to appeal for anyone who was in the vicinity of Lion Street, Bethel Square, Tredegar Street and High Street between 12.30am and 01.30am or has any information that could assist with the inquiry to contact them immediately.

EXCEPTIONAL SOLDIER

Pte Matthew Ian Boyd was born May 25, 1995, and joined the Royal Gibraltar Regiment on the August 22, 2012 and attended the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) in Catterick to complete his Combat Infantryman’s course.

He successfully passed out of ITC on the 12th Apr 2013 and joined the Regiment in April 2013 on Exercise JEBEL TARIK 13 in Brecon. He was then assigned to 1 Platoon, I Company as a fully qualified Infantryman and immediately began to fit into the Regiment.

Colleagues at the Regiment said he quickly asserted himself as a reliable and competent soldier, who could always be relied upon to make light of a given situation.

During his career he deployed on all UK and Morocco deployments with the Regiment where his keenness and affable character made him shine within not just his platoon but wider Regiment.

He consistently performed to a high standard as a soldier, and had been earmarked to be trained as an Assault Pioneer, and as with everything, he would put his name forward for any opportunity to deploy that presented itself.

Pte Boyd had recently been put forward to be selected as a potential Junior NCO, and had deployed to UK to assist the Queen’s Division Courses Cell as part of the training support staff in order to gain experience before he attending the Fire Team Commander’s Course as a student.

“Private Boyd was an engaging and outgoing individual with a charismatic personality,” the Regiment said in a statement.

“He had all the characteristics that make an exceptional soldier he was willing and keen with an optimistic view of life. The Regiment has lost an excellent member of its ranks and highly respected comrade.”

TRIBUTES

Lt Colonel Lopez said: “Matthew or ‘Boyd’ as he was commonly known by his friends joined the Regiment in August 2012 when he was just 17 years of age. A committed and utterly reliable individual, Pte Boyd was an outstanding soldier with a bright future ahead of him.”

“Witty, full of life and with an outgoing personality, he was widely respected and an extremely popular member of this unit. His untimely death leaves a huge void in the regiment and his loss will be acutely felt by all of us.”

Yesterday, the Gibraltar Government said it had received the news of the passing of Private Boyd with deep regret and sorrow.

The Chief Minister, Fabian Picardo, said: ‘On behalf of the Government of Gibraltar I extend my deepest condolences to the family and friends of Private Boyd. This morning I met personally with the Commanding Officer of the Royal Gibraltar Regiment and was able to express to him my sympathies. Our thoughts are with Private Boyd’s family and friends at this difficult time.’

Major Timothy Cumming, Company Commander, I COY said: “The thoughts of every Soldier and Officer within I Company are very firmly with the family and friends of Pte Matthew Boyd. All of us have been rocked by this and are at a loss for words after being made aware of this devastating news.

Pte Boyd was a highly dedicated and professional soldier.

He was a true character within the Regiment with a tremendously positive and amiable personality. As his Company Commander, it was an honour and a privilege to have been able to have known him at both a personal and professional level. That his life ended in this way was a cruel tragedy. He will continue to be an inspiration to all who knew and worked with him and will never be forgotten.”

Platoon Commander, Lieutenant Jon Roberts (29) said: “I first met Pte Boyd when he came back from Catterick and deployed on Exercise Jebel Tarik in the UK, just as I was taking over my Platoon for the first time.

“From the outset he shone out as a character and one that I knew go far. A reliable and competent soldier, he consistently performed to a high standard and I could always rely on him to perform any task that was given to him, regardless of how arduous. What made him shine above the rest is how he would always have a wry little smile on his face and give a quick witted response before cracking on; it was those qualities that endeared him to those around him.”

“I have had the privilege of leading many soldiers but Pte Boyd will always be one that will stick in my memory fondly. He’d recently been earmarked as a soldier with the right potential for promotion, which is why we decided to send him to support a Queen’s Division Course to enable him to gather experience before he inevitably attempted to attend his own promotion course later this year.”

“I honestly can’t believe that this has happened and that he’s gone. He epitomised the spirit of the Regiment and will be sorely missed by his friends and the Regimental family and my own thoughts and prayers are with his own family and friends at this time.”

Sergeant Paul Grech (29) said: “I was lost for words when I heard the news about Boyd, I was his Platoon Sergeant for the last year and he was one of the best Private’s in my Platoon. He was full of life and always had a smile on his face. He was good tempered no matter where we were, whether it was boiling hot in Morocco or freezing in the UK he never complained and lifted the whole Platoon’s morale with his unique sense of humour.”

“I am honoured to have served with such an individual. He has definitely shown me that life is too short to dwell on the bad times, but to smile at life and enjoy the time we have. He was loved by so many and will definitely be missed by all.”

Private James Webb (27) said: “Truly shocked to hear the news, he will leave an irreplaceable hole in our small Company. It was a pleasure to share our career together right back from basic training. I could always count on you to fancy a pint as often as I did – I am going to miss you stealing my clothes, RIP mucker.”

Private Callum Gregory (25) said: “Matt, I still can’t believe you have gone, such a character and always at the centre of everything. Such a laugh and up for anything, especially a cheeky pint. No more hearing your laugh, no more seeing you wear half my clothes that ‘went missing in the wash’. Taken from us way to soon mate, will be in our hearts forever.”

Private Paul Barber (21) said: “I was devastated to hear about Boyd, he was like a brother to me. I remember meeting him in Basic Training and I had no idea at the time that we would become such good friends, even though I only knew him for three years, it felt like a lifetime.

“Boyd was real character; he was hilarious and our sense of humour was well matched. I trusted him and have a box full of memories of our time shared together.”

“Words can’t really explain how much I will miss him and he will be a real loss to our Regiment and a difficult person to ever forget.”

Private Scott Wylie (20) said: “Still can’t believe he’s gone, he was my only childhood friend and we were together since we were six. We were in the same class in school, went through everything together, we joined the Army at the same time and still had so much still to do together. He was meant to be my best man and my first child’s godfather, he was more like a brother than a best friend; you’ve taken part of me with you, but this isn’t goodbye, love you brother RIP.”