Troops memorial fund set to hit £300k
A MEMORIAL fund to honour Royal Anglian troops killed on the battlefields of Afghanistan last summer is set to crash through the £300,000 barrier.As it emerged that members of the 1st battalion - known as The Vikings - had been awarded six military crosses and numerous other gallantry medals and commendations for their bravery in Helmand last summer, new figures put the EADT-backed Royal Anglian Afghanistan Memorial Fund at £281,000 with more donations expected this month.
A MEMORIAL fund to honour Royal Anglian troops killed on the battlefields of Afghanistan last summer is set to crash through the £300,000 barrier.
As it emerged that members of the 1st battalion - known as The Vikings - had been awarded six military crosses and numerous other gallantry medals and commendations for their bravery in Helmand last summer, new figures put the EADT-backed Royal Anglian Afghanistan Memorial Fund at £281,000 with more donations expected this month.
When the memorial fund was set up, it hoped to raise £100,000.
Last night, the 1st battalion's commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Carver said: “I am astounded by the amount that has been raised and that there I still so much interest in the appeal. It just seems to grow and grow.
“It just shows what a strong and special link the battalion has with the people in the four counties we recruit from.”
The fund was established last summer when it became clear the Royal Anglians - which recruit in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex - were sustaining high levels of casualties.
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The final toll was nine killed in action and 120 wounded, though there are soldiers who are now showing signs of post-traumatic stress following the fierce fighting against the Taliban.
The appeal will provide a lasting memorial to those killed and be sited at Duxford, where the regiment has a museum. But it will also offer financial support to soldiers wounded in the conflict to help them rehabilitate and where possible resume their military careers.
Lt Col Carver, who was awarded the Distinguished Service Order for his role in Afghanistan, said that some money had been allocated to the memorial site, quotes were imminent from three designers and planning permission was being sought for the structure.
The design proposal put forward is for a statue of a contemporary Royal Anglian soldier with a plinth for the names of those killed and steps on which wreaths can be laid.
The monument will bear the names of Pte Chris Gray, L/Cpl George Davey, Cpl Darren Bonner, L/Cpl Alex Hawkins, Pte Tony Rawson, Capt David Hicks, Pte John Thrumble, Pte Aaron James McClure and Pte Robert Foster.
He also confirmed that some money from the funds had already been distributed to help wounded Royal Anglians recover. These included buying an exercise bike so a soldier can rehabilitate at home, travel costs for those needing treatment at the Defence Services Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court near Epsom in Surrey, and sending some troops on a special “adventure training” course specifically designed for injured soldiers.
The fund has also made a contribution to a small number of soldiers who have made a spiritual visit to the pilgrimage site of Lourdes.
Recent parades in Essex also saw further donations to the fund while the final Royal Anglian homecoming parade will be held in King's Lynn on March 30.
The appeal officially remains open until August 1 with the aim of having the memorial unveiled by remembrance Sunday in November of this year.
Anyone wanting to give to the 1 R Anglian Afghanistan Memorial Fund can make cheques payable to CB 1 R Anglian and send them to Major R C Barrett, Treasurer, 1 R Anglian Afghanistan Memorial Fund, Elizabeth Barracks, Pirbright, Surrey, GU24 0DT.