The funeral of a talented British soldier killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan took place in the Midlands yesterday.

Corporal Darryl Gardiner died after the vehicle he was travelling in was hit by a mine strike near the town of Musa Qala earlier this month.

The 25-year-old from Wiltshire was just days away from his 26th birthday when he lost his life on January 20.

Colin Butler, senior chaplain of 143 Brigade, and Rev David Creaser, unit chaplain, led the service at Saint Mary's Church in Stafford.

Lt Col Andy Teskey, Cpl Gardiner's former commanding officer, told the congregation: "This has been tragic end to a promising life of a bright 25-year-old.

"It is clear that the numbers here today are Darryl's legacy. Darryl will live on." Lt Col Teskey described Cpl Gardiner as a "very capable soldier".

He said: "He always thought of others. He was selfless and others always came first."

Known to his friends as "Daz", Cpl Gardiner was a keen skydiver and many in the congregation wore parachuting suits in acknowledgement of his passion for the sport.

Warrant Officer 2 Mark Bayada of the Army Physical Training Corps told mourners: "Skydiving breaks down all the barriers.

"You are just a person and Daz was an exceptional person.

"It brought out all of his character -confidence in abundance, natural ability."

If someone was in a bad mood, he said, "Daz would bounce all over you, wouldn't acknowledge that you were in a bad mood.

"It was certainly a lot better when he was about than when he wasn't."

Cpl Gardiner was a member of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, attached to the 5th Regiment Royal Artillery and 52 Brigade's Reconnaissance Force.

The armourer had been deployed in Afghanistan since October and was taking part in an operation to disrupt enemy forces and reassure local Afghans in Helmand Province when the roadside blast occurred.

He was evacuated by helicopter to a field hospital but died from his wounds. The congregation heard that Cpl Gardiner had "moved around a great deal" but planned to settle down after serving in Afghanistan, and hoped to join the Physical Training Corps or the RAF to pursue his love of parachuting.

Mourners also heard what his loss meant to his family.

The Rev Colin Butler said: "We are here to commend to God someone who was a partner to Lucy (his girlfriend), a son, a brother, a grandson and an uncle."

He went on: "Darryl lost his life serving his country.

"In seeking to help others he has paid what we euphemistically call the highest price. We have thankfulness and pride for Darryl."

The service ended with Cpl Gardiner's medals, dress hat and the Union Flag being handed over to his family.

A volley of shots was fired outside the church and The Last Post was sounded.

A private cremation took place after the service.