Fanfare heralds end of walk in memory of Suffolk soldier Jo Woodgate
- Credit: Archant
A 154-mile walk in memory of a much-loved soldier who was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan came to a close yesterday in front of a plaque dedicated to him.
Lance Corporal Jonathan ‘Jo’ Woodgate, 26, was fatally wounded by a grenade thrown from behind a wall while he was on foot patrol near Sangin in March 2010.
Since his death, Lance Corporal Woodgate’s family and friends have undertaken several fundraising events for military charities, and memorials have been erected in his honour in Chelsworth Church where he is buried and in the Market Place at Lavenham.
Last Friday, his step mother Jayne Woodgate and family friend Domini Pocock - who was the county co-ordinator for the Help for Heroes charity - embarked on a 154-mile trek from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire back to Lavenham.
The route was chosen because it was Lance Corporal Woodgate’s final journey from the town of Wootten Bassett back to Lavenham where he was given a funeral with full military honours. Yesterday marked the fifth anniversary of the service.
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The two women, who are both from Monks Eleigh, arrived back in Lavenham yesterday afternoon after a journey that took in the towns of Oxford, Aylesbury and Luton.
They were greeted with a bugle fanfare and members of the Ipswich Over 50s Brass Band performed in the Market Place before a minute’s silence was observed by the memorial plaque.
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Lance Corporal Woodgate’s father, Tony Woodgate - who provided support during the walk - said his son was an extremely popular man and his family was determined he would never be forgotten.
Mr Woodgate said: “The idea of the walk is to keep Jo’s memory alive in other people’s minds. His Facebook page remains open and people still leave comments on there after all this time - he was a very special person.”
In 2010, Mrs Woodgate also parachuted out of an aircraft for the Household Cavalries Foundation - the casualties fund of the Blues and Royals, which was Jo’s regiment.
So far the walk, which was sponsored by Richard Pearce of Trident Marketing, has raised £4,000 for Help for Heroes.
At the finishing line, Mrs Woodgate, 54, said: “It has been a really great experience and I am delighted that we have done it.
“The whole walk was beautiful, we met some wonderful people on the way and everything went so smoothly.
“Then to get back to Lavenham and find so many people here to welcome us has been really overwhelming.
“We have raised so much money - £4,000 already - and there is still money coming in.”