Alan Henning memorial: 'Killed for being selfless'

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Media caption"Today has been a celebration of his life," reports Danielle Hewson

The widow of murdered aid worker Alan Henning has told a memorial service he was killed "for being what we should be, selfless and caring".

Family and friends attended a private service at Eccles Parish Church in Eccles, Greater Manchester.

The 47-year old taxi driver was delivering aid to Syria in December when he was kidnapped and then held hostage by Islamic State militants.

Family of another British hostage killed by IS, David Haines, attended.

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Image caption Alan Henning was the fourth western hostage to be killed by militants in October

A video purporting to show Mr Henning being beheaded was posted on the internet in October.

At the time, he was the fourth western hostage to be murdered by IS.

Similar to previous videos, it featured a militant with an apparently British accent, known in the UK media as "Jihadi John".

Mrs Henning told the memorial: "We must never forget the reason why he went to Syria and the reason he was taken from us - for being what we all should be, selfless and caring."

She said she had been comforted by the words of well-wishers who have told her her husband will live on in their two teenage children, Lucy and Adam, and the grandchildren she will one day have.

Mrs Henning said her "loving, witty and caring husband" was a "great joker" and a "terrible snorer".

Image copyright PA
Image caption The service was a "celebration" Mr Henning's life

She said her thoughts were with the families of John Foley, Steven Sotloff, David Haines and Peter Kassig, the other Westerners who were beheaded by IS.

David Haines' daughter Bethany and brother Michael escorted Mr Henning's widow and daughter Lucy to the service.

She said: "I hope and pray that John Cantlie will be released and returned to his family so that they are spared the horror."

Audio of the memorial was relayed outside the church.

It was decked with yellow ribbons like those well-wishers had sported when there was still hope he would be freed.

Greater Manchester Police's Chief Constable Sir Peter Fahy, who attended the service, tweeted: "Very moving memorial service for Alan Henning remarkable man remarkable family a great example to us all."

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Christopher Clarkson, Conservative councillor for Worsley, tweeted: "An uplifting celebration of Alan Henning's life at Eccles Parish Church this afternoon.

"The Hennings are a remarkable family."

Image copyright Lynette Horsburgh

Reverend Cyprian Yobera, who carried out the service, said earlier it was to be a "celebration" of Mr Henning's life but "as close to a funeral service as we can get".

"It is hoped by the family that this will bring closure. They are on a journey coming to terms with what happened to their dad. They are really proud of him," he said.

A memorial service was also held in October at Manchester's British Muslim Heritage Centre and was attended by hundreds of people, including faith and political leaders.

More than £30,000 has been raised for Mr Henning's family by his Muslim colleagues and friends.

Prime Minister David Cameron is also considering recognising Mr Henning with a national honour following a request by his MP, Barbara Keeley.

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