THE sacrifice of two fallen Whitby soldiers, who gave their lives fighting for their country, was recognised yesterday with the dedication of the new West Pier link bridge in their honour.
Corporal Damian Lawrence and Craftsman Andrew Found were both killed while on active duty in Afghanistan and yesterday a plaque was unveiled in the presence of their families and friends.
The dedication is touched with added significance as the idea was first proposed by Artificer Sergeant Major John Buck, who has since passed away.
Following ASM Buck’s death, Whitby resident Colin Winspear worked extensively to ensure this gesture to the soldiers’ families from the people of Whitby took place.
He said: “I’m over the moon. Everybody we have spoken to has been really supportive.
“The two lads wouldn’t see themselves as heroes at all, they were doing their jobs and looking out for their mates alongside them.
“They’ll be looking down on us, wondering what all the fuss is about.”
The new footbridge has been named the Whitby Memorial Bridge and the dedication ceremony was conducted by Rev David Smith, the Padre of the Royal Engineers’ Association.
Following the closure of the old link bridge last September, a replacement was commissioned and the new bridge permanently reopened last month.
Harbour Board chairman Mike Cockerill said: “Around the same time the replacement was first being discussed, the idea for the bridge to be dedicated to two young local men who made the ultimate sacrifice while serving abroad was put forward by another local member of the armed services.
“He also suffered as a result of the ongoing conflict - I speak of John Buck.
“Today sees the dedication of the replacement footbridge in honour of those two young men who, tragically, had their lives taken from them in Afghanistan.
“I am most pleased that members of the families of those lads are here today to witness the high esteem in which their fallen men are held.”
The proposal received widespread support from Whitby Town Council and Whitby’s Mayor, Coun John Freeman, said: “We hope as a town we never have to add any name other than Damian and Andrew to this plaque and hope that no Whitby families and friends have to go through what those two families have gone through in the past four years.”
The plaque has been erected on the pier wall, adjacent to the south end of the bridge and was unveiled at the ceremony by Jessica Lawrence, Damian’s daughter.
Cpl Lawrence of the 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment was injured by a bomb blast while on patrol in the village of Kajaki in southern Afghanistan on 17 February 2008.
He and another soldier were evacuated to Camp Bastion by helicopter but Cpl Lawrence, who was born in Scarborough and raised in Whitby, was found to have passed away on arrival.
Cfn Found, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer, served with the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards.
Born in Whitby and affectionately known as ‘Foundy’, he was killed in an explosion on 16 June last year while on operation near Adinza’i in the Gereshk Valley area, within the northern Nahr-e Saraj district of the Helmand Province.