Mum turning her grief to triumph

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THE mother of a Sutton soldier killed in Afghanistan has vowed to continue raising awareness of the impact of war on service personnel and their families on the first anniversary of her son’s death.

Speaking 12 months after her 25-year-old son L/Sgt David Greenhalgh was killed in a roadside bomb attack in Helmand Province, Mandy Clarke has spoken of her ongoing grief and determination to raise vital funds for the Help for Heroes charity, which helps injured soldiers.

“Sunday was very hard for me, I felt sick and was crying a lot. My heart is broken and I felt very withdrawn just thinking about everything and reflecting on the last year,” she said.

“I cannot believe it has been a year, it doesn’t seem like that long but we’ve had so many messages of support from family and friends. Everyone remembered and it has been very comforting but there are times when I still feel very lonely.”

In October last year, David received a mention in despatches for bravery for his part in an action in January, just two weeks before he died, where he was commanding a detachment assisting the Afghan Army barracks during an attack.

“I was enormously proud of him when he received this award, he was so brave and would always put other people’s safety before himself,” added Mandy.

“But I have mixed emotions about it, it was just weeks before he died and I just thought, if God wanted him, why didn’t he take him then?”

Mandy, who runs the Speed the Plough pub with partner and landlord Albert Bainbridge on Mansfield Road, has already raised thousands of pounds for Help for Heroes in the last year through fundraising events including having her head shaved recently.

And she strongly believes that more should be done to help injured personnel and their loved ones.

“I thought I can either sit in my room or I can do something positive with my grief and help others, it has helped me turn my grief into triumph.

“We’ve had several events at the pub with people coming up from all over the country in support, everyone has been fantastic,” she said.

She is planning on visiting the Help for Heroes Rehabilitation Complex later this year to find out more about how soldiers and their families rehabilitate themselves after conflict to see where her money is being spent.

“The Government does not do enough for injured soldiers, they do not know how parents who have lost children in such horrific circumstances feel - the war in Afghanistan is not going to end any time soon and more needs to be done,” she added.