A MUM will today celebrate the life of her soldier son – a year after he was killed by a rogue Afghan fighter.
Kathryn Walker will also light a candle for colleagues and friends of Sapper Richard Walker injured in the attack that claimed the 23-year-old’s life.
On January 7 last year, the Royal Engineer was part of a troop dismantling the main gate of Patrol Base Hazrat as it was being made smaller in preparation for its handover to local forces.
An inquest in Sunderland last year heard how an Afghan National Army soldier turned his gun on the soldiers during the deadly attack.
Sapper Walker’s comrades described diving for cover as they were hit by a round of fire from a temporary position in the base known as a sangar.
The attacker sprayed them with another two rounds of fire as he walked towards them before being shot dead.
Father-of-two Sapper Walker, of Blackfell, Washington, was left with serious injuries to his shoulder and stomach. Despite the best efforts of medics, he did not survive.
One year on, the mother of the former Washington School pupil, has vowed to celebrate her son’s life rather than mourn his death.
Kathryn, 47, said: “Today, I will be lighting a candle for the lads who were injured in the incident that claimed Richard’s life.
“On January 30, the anniversary of Richard’s funeral, we are planning to spend the day remembering him and celebrating the person he was.
“I will never forget Richard, but he would want us to celebrate his life, as opposed to marking his death.”
In the weeks before he died, Richard had celebrated an early Christmas with his family at home in Washington.
He had returned to Afghanistan on Christmas Eve, 2012.
Richard, of 28 Engineer Regiment, attached to 21 Engineer Regiment, had always dreamed of becoming a soldier.
Kathryn today said: “It was what he loved doing.
“Even now, after everything that’s happened, if one of my other children said they wanted to join the services, I would not discourage them.
“Richard is in a safe place now, but there are others out there who we must not forget.”
Richard was briefly a pupil at Pennywell School in Sunderland before moving to Washington School.
Initially based in Hameln, Germany, he would regularly return to Washington to see friends and family, but his main love in life was daughter Lilly-Faith, who will be three in April.
Richard, who would have turned 25 next month, had been a keen footballer and had played in goal for Washington Village as well as being a staunch Sunderland fan.
Kathryn added: “His colleagues have been so supportive, and I would particularly like to thank Staff Sergeant Ty Starke for his support.”