THE mother of a Whitby soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan has backed plans for the town to host an armed forces parade.
Alison Lawrence told the Whitby Gazette she will be among the hundreds of people expected to be lining the streets of Whitby town centre on 19 July to welcome home our heroes from the 2nd Battalion Yorkshire Regiment.
Her son Damian, a corporal, died in February 2008 aged just 25.
She said: “I am absolutely delighted [with the parade]. They have wanted to do it for years. I am 100% behind it.
“When Damian was killed three years ago I tried and tried to get the Battalion to march through Whitby and they wanted to come to Whitby instead of Scarborough out of respect to Damian.
“I will be here and I will be supporting them. It will be hard – I have been to marches in the past and they all look identical in their uniforms. Just for a brief second you think where is he? You are looking for him and he is not there.”
Alison hasn’t talked publicly about the death of Damian before and said he would have loved to have been able to march through his home town with his fellow soldiers who still visit the family three years after the soldier’s death.
She added: “It is nice to know the lads are grieving with you. They lost a brother – that is how they think of it.
“You don’t ever forget, it just gets a little bit easier to live with. It is easier to talk about it now than it was. I didn’t do any press interviews.
“Damian would have been very proud to march through his town. It has come three years too late for him but I know the other lads will be very proud.”
Her sentiments were echoed by Jim White, a former sergeant when the Battalion was called the Green Howards, who served in Germany, Libya and Malaya.
He has been asking for a parade to be held in Whitby for over three years and written several letters to Whitby Town Council who are now organising the parade.
The Whitby Gazette has also been pressing for such an event through its Heroes Welcome campaign which has recruited the support of most of the town’s local businesses.
He said: “I have been going for about three years with this. What really got me going was when they came back from Afghanistan and I watched them march through Scarborough and I thought ‘why the hell aren’t they marching through our own town’.
“Whitby Town Council originally weren’t one little bit interested but because of people pressure and a lot of letters they have sat up and taken notice and come round to the idea.
“They will claim it was their idea but it wasn’t – but we have got it and I am delighted.”