September 6th, 2016

Families of Warwickshire fallen soldiers back national campaign

Updated: 3:59 pm, May 07, 2015

FAMILIES of fallen soldiers in Warwickshire are backing a national drive to honour their contribution.

The ‘Hometown Heroes’ campaign is calling on prime minister David Cameron to consider naming streets after the 453 servicemen and women who lost their lives in the Afghan conflict.

Claverdon paratrooper Conrad Lewis was shot while on patrol in Helmand Province in 2011.

In the wake of the 22 year-old’s death, his family set up the 353 charity – so named because Conrad was the 353th soldier killed in Afghanistan – and it has raised around £362,000 for injured soldiers and military families so far.

Conrad’s father Tony feels it is right to recognise the role played by fallen soldiers in both this and past conflicts.

He told The Observer: “I would never tell anyone they have to do something but my son and 452 others died, I hope, in a cause of freedom so we can walk the streets, choose how we want to live and how we speak.

“Bureaucracy can clearly be overcome and I think naming streets is a nice way for local authorities to show their support.

“You’ve got people who fought for their country selflessly – every day they got up knowing they could lose a limb or even their lives. These guys have been brave beyond belief and that should be recognised.”

Paratrooper Jeff ‘JJ’ Doherty was killed fighting the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2008 and his parents Jeff and Joyce have long fought for a permanent tribute.

Shortly after his death they were left frustrated when Southam Town Council rejected calls to name a new road after their 20-year-old son.

Naming streets after fallen soldiers had been mooted again as a possible alternative to bird names proposed for a new housing development in the town.

But although these plans are yet to be formally considered, Jeff is still keen to see his son’s contribution recognised.

He said: “Everybody loved JJ and this would be a great way to commemorate that – it’s the right thing to do. When you lose a child it’s absolutely horrendous so we hope the council can recognise this.

“Fallen soldiers, not just my son, should be remembered more than once a year.”

One soldier with a permanent tribute to the sacrifice he made serving his country is Stratford paratrooper Joe Whittaker.

The 20-year-old was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2008 and in 2010, an unnamed right of way between Trevelyan Crescent and Bishopton Lane was officially unveiled as Whittakers Way.

There is an added poignancy to the naming as Joe, who grew up nearby, regularly used the path on his paper round as a young boy.

And Joe’s mum Naomi admits she still feels a sense of pride when she passes the sign.

She said: “Several years ago, Bishopton Residents Association voted unanimously in favour of naming the pathway and after council approval, in due course the signs were put in place.

“This has meant so much to me over the last few years and I am more than grateful to them both as well as Coun Chris Wall.”

She added: “I know both the Lewis family and the Doherty family and I can imagine how much it would mean to have roads named after Conrad and JJ.

“If ever it was suggested a residential road could be named after Joe I would be thrilled and delighted.

“We all want to keep our sons’ names alive but having part of an address to be a permanent, lasting part of the community would be a huge honour.

“It would not only be a personal comfort but also a public recognition of their life and sacrifice.”

Father of fallen Southam Paratropper Jeff Doherty with JJ’s brother and sister Finn and Honey Bea are backing calls for a memorial.

Joe Whittaker’s sister Kate and mum Naomi with Coun Chris Wall pictured at theroad named in his honour.

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