A soldier killed in Afghanistan wrote a poignant message to his family and friends before his death asking them: "Please be positive, smile and remember all the good times."

Cpl Sean Reeve, a 28-year-old SAS reservist, died alongside three colleagues on June 17 when the Land Rover they were travelling in was blown up by a roadside bomb in Helmand province in the south of the country.

At his funeral service yesterday, it was standing room only as more than 300 of the young soldier's family, friends and colleagues packed St Joseph's Catholic Church to bid farewell to him.

Parish priest Father John Inglis, who lead the requiem mass, read a moving letter written by Cpl Reeve which the soldier had prepared in the knowledge of the risks he faced.

It began: "I hope that no-one ever has to read this. I want to minimise the pain and distress for my loved ones in the event of my death.

"I am going to a dangerous place to do a dangerous job, it would be foolish of me to ignore the possibility of being killed."

Later on in the letter, Cpl Reeve, known to his friends as Vic, paid tribute to his mother Rosaleen, saying "no-one has a kinder heart than my mum".

He went on to say "she is a beautiful and wonderful person. I love her so much that it can't be described. I can't bear the thought of her being sad.

"Please be positive, smile and remember all the good times. I'm still there, I will always be by your side."

He described his dad Bob as his "idol" and also paid an emotional tribute to his sister Heidi and brother Neal.

In his letter, Cpl Reeve reassured his family that he had remained strong even in death.

He wrote: "Please trust me that no matter what the circumstances of my death, no matter how fast, no matter how slow, I was strong, without fear and without pain.

"My only suffering will be the realisation that I will not see my family and friends again."

He added: "The thing you have to cope with is not the loss of my soul, but the loss of my physical presence. I can live on as long as you want me to."

After the ceremony, traffic was halted by police as the cortËge made its way along Lewes Road to Woodvale Crematorium for a private service.

Cpl Reeve's coffin was adorned with a tin whistle and drum and some of the mourners walking behind it carried photographs of him in their arms.

A eulogy read at the second service by Cpl Reeve's friend and colleague Neil honoured him as a "calm and mild-mannered man" who showed "dedication to the squadron, tenacity, loyalty and caring for his fellow man".

He said: "As a small band of brothers we went to a foreign land through a sense of adventure, for a challenge and to make a difference.

"Regrettably, not all of us have come back."