RAF gunners help locals prepare memorial for commemoration

Trainee gunners from RAF Honington at the memorial to Luke Southgate. Picture: VICKI BROWN

Trainee gunners from RAF Honington at the memorial to Luke Southgate. Picture: VICKI BROWN - Credit: Vicki Brown

Servicemen from RAF Honington rolled up their sleeves to help residents in Bury St Edmunds prepare a memorial to a fallen airman for commemorations of the 10th anniversary of his death.

Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, 20, from Bury St Edmunds, who died after an explosion north of Ka

Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, 20, from Bury St Edmunds, who died after an explosion north of Kandahar Airfield, in Kandahar province - Credit: PA

Trainee gunners from the Royal Air Force Regiment depot helped residents on the Howard estate spruce up the memorial garden to Luke Southgate.

Luke, who grew up on the estate and where his family still live, was killed while serving with the RAF Regiment in Afghanistan.

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants (HEART), said: "Luke was a popular lad round here, everybody knew him and his death was such a loss.

"It's now 10 years since he died and we will be marking the anniversary with a commemoration service, and as part of that we have been sprucing up the memorial to get it ready.

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants. Picture: VICKI BROW

Ernie Broom, chairman of the Howard Estate Association of Residents and Tenants. Picture: VICKI BROWN - Credit: Vicki Brown

"We contacted Honington and they were only too happy to help."

A spokesman for RAF Honington said engagement with the community formed part of the recruits' training so they were delighted to be able to help renovate the memorial.

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"The trainee gunners always look to do some form of community engagement as part of their training, so this tied in nicely and the fact it is one of our own gave it extra poignancy," he said.

The ceremony takes place on Monday February 24 at 10.30am and will feature a wreath-laying by the family, service organisations and the RAF, and a bugler will play the Last Post.

Trainee RAF gunners sprucing up the memorial to Luke Southgate. Picture: VICKI BROWN

Trainee RAF gunners sprucing up the memorial to Luke Southgate. Picture: VICKI BROWN - Credit: Vicki Brown

Luke Southgate was a senior aircraftsman with 11 Squadron RAF Regiment. He died in February 2010 after an improvised explosive device exploded under his WMIK Land Rover while conducting a patrol to protect Kandahar airfield.

He lived in St Olaves Road and attended County Upper School before joining the RAF.

The memorial is in the shopping precinct in St Olaves Road and was erected in 2016 by friends of the Howard Estate, St Edmundsbury Borough Council, Bury St Edmunds Town Council, Bury in Bloom, West Suffolk College and RAF Honington.

A rededication ceremony was held for the memorial by HEART and RAF Honington in 2018.

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