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Mums' tributes to soldier sons

PUBLISHED: 14:51 28 May 2008 | UPDATED: 14:34 07 July 2010

A Beetley mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan is to join other bereaved mums in a 100-mile tribute to their sons.

Mothers of the Royal Anglians killed in Afghanistan, including Jan Hawkins from Beetley, will be tackling the 100 Miles for Nine Smiles walk for L/Cpl Alex Hawkins, Cpl Darren Bonner, Pte Aaron McClure, Pte Robert Foster, Pte John Thrumble, Pte Tony Rawson, Pte Chris Gray, and Capt David Hicks, who were all killed in Helmand last summer as The Vikings fought against the Taliban, and Pte Darren George who died in 2002.

A Beetley mother of a soldier killed in Afghanistan is to join other bereaved mums in a 100-mile tribute to their sons.

Mothers of the Royal Anglians killed in Afghanistan, including Jan Hawkins from Beetley, will be tackling the 100 Miles for Nine Smiles walk for L/Cpl Alex Hawkins, Cpl Darren Bonner, Pte Aaron McClure, Pte Robert Foster, Pte John Thrumble, Pte Tony Rawson, Pte Chris Gray, and Capt David Hicks, who were all killed in Helmand last summer as The Vikings fought against the Taliban, and Pte Darren George who died in 2002.

Jan Hawkins, mother of L/Cpl Hawkins, who was stationed at Swanton Morley, said: “Going to war changes the soldiers. Alex knew they were getting hit almost every day.

“Before he went he sat down with me and went through how he wanted his funeral, and drew up his will. Having your son do that is very difficult.

“When he came back mid-tour he let me hug him - that said a lot.

“All the boys out there stood side by side. They're still being courageous. We want to be able to help them continue and while the walk will be difficult this is something we need to do to show we can be as courageous as our sons.

“It's also brought the mums together. Only we understand what it's like and we can help each other. Organising this and feeling like we're doing something to help is so important.

“It's easy to let it stay inside but then it turns into something bad. The memory of our brave sons needs to be a good thing and something that lives on.”

Now in a bid to boost the Royal Anglian Memorial Fund to honour those killed in the battlefields of Afghanistan the nine mothers will be walking from Reading, where Capt Hicks is buried, to Duxford where the regiment has a museum and the lasting memorial will be placed.

The memorial fund will also offer financial support to soldiers and their families wounded in the conflict.

Initially the mums were going to walk to each soldier's home village but the distance would have racked up to around 500 miles, so they will cover 100 miles over seven days, starting on July 7.

Cpl Bonner's mum Chris Bonner, whose son's last moments alive were captured by television documentary Ross Kemp in Afghanistan and who with Mrs Hawkins has helped organise the walk, said: “The pain is absolutely horrific. You can't imagine it or describe it. You wake up in the morning and for a second everything feels like it might be ok. Then it hits you. And on the bad days you get back into bed and can't get out.

“Our sons showed so much courage. They went over there because they wanted to make a difference, and did. People don't realise because a lot of the good they did can't be talked about.”

T To sponsor 100 miles for nine smiles visit www.justgiving.com/christinebonner or send a cheque payable to CB1 R Anglian to Jan Hawkins at 17 Tavern Close, Beetley, Dereham, Norfolk, NR20 4BN or to Ambrajay, Hannath Road, Tydd Gote, Wisbech, PE13 5NA.

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