Bury St Edmunds: Bench memorial to young soldier killed in Afghanistan

ONE year on from the death of a young serviceman, a memorial has been unveiled near his grave.

Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, from Bury St Edmunds, died in action in Afghanistan on February 24 last year.

The gunner, who went to County Upper School in Bury, served with RAF Honington-based 2 Squadron RAF Regiment.

Yesterday, a bench featuring a plaque, which had been organised by the squadron, was unveiled at the cemetery, off King’s Road in the town, during a memorial service.

Family, friends, members of the squadron and local branches of the Royal Air Forces Association (RAFA) attended.

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SAC Southgate’s father Keith, of Severn Road in the town, was pleased everybody still remembered his son. “We want to keep him high-profile as much as possible,” he said.

The 50-year-old said the past year had been hard for everybody, but he and his wife Kate had to stay strong for SAC Southgate’s six siblings.

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He said: “We just have to keep strong and I feel sometimes everybody is moving on and we are still stuck.”

He said the memorial service had gone well, adding how he appreciated the donations towards the bench from the squadron and RAFA.

Squadron leader of 2 Squadron RAF Regiment, Matt Carter MC, made an address during the service.

Flight Lieutenant Mick Liston, spokesman for RAF Honington, said the occasion was poignant.

He said: “A lot of the lads there knew Luke personally for instance, there were school friends of his turn up.”

Eddie Ribbans, secretary of Bury St Edmunds RAFA, said: “It went very well and of course the weather was kind.”

SAC Southgate was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on his way back from successfully completing a task near Kandahar Airfield.

He had been days from celebrating his 21st birthday.

Various activities have been taking place in memory of SAC Southgate, including a plaque being installed at St Olave’s precinct in the town and a tree planted there by his family.

Bury St Edmunds Pc Simon Bourne, who was at yesterday’s service, helped raise more than �60,000 for charities by completing a 1,500-mile bike in his memory.

Events which are coming up include a 100-mile walk for charity in April organised by a friend of SAC Southgate.

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