TWENTY-FOUR roses sit on the grave of Private Michael Tench to mark what would have been his 24th birthday.
Gone but never forgotten, the fallen hero, who was killed during a roadside blast in Iraq in 2007, should have been celebrating his 24th birthday yesterday, surrounded by family and friends.
Instead, his heartbroken mum Janice Murray visited his graveside at Southwick Cemetery to lay 24 roses in his memory, before watching her son’s beloved Sunderland AFC take on rivals Newcastle United in yesterday’s derby.
“Michael would have been 24, but he will always remain 18,” said Janice.
“Michael liked nothing better than watching a Sunderland football match because he was a huge supporter, and I thought if he was here he would have been at the match.”
Yesterday, Janice, surrounded by family and friends, watched the one-all draw at the Gardener’s, in Washington.
Janice, who now lives in Washington, said: “It’s an emotional day and a hard day, but I wanted to celebrate it and try and make it a happy time.
“Michael was a lad who did so much and had so much to give. I miss him so much.”