Pupils honour fallen soldier

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A MUM who lost her son in the war in Afghanistan has said a special thank-you to teenagers helping keep his memory alive.

Sergeant John Amer, 30, from Ryhope, was killed as he tried to help an injured comrade in the Helmand Province in 2009.

Pupils at Southmoor School paid tribute to the courageous former student by raising £1,000 for the Army Benevolent Fund (ABF) in his memory.

Sgt Amer’s mum Joan visited the Ryhope Road school and said she thinks it is “absolutely fantastic” that the young people are so committed to and proud of our troops.

The school has forged strong links with Sgt Amer’s family, the ABF and the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, his regiment, helping to educate pupils about the sacrifices the armed forces make.

Mrs Amer, 57, said Ryhope is a very close community and she has managed to get through the past couple of years with the huge support everyone has shown.

She said: “All I can do is take one day at a time. I have good days and bad days. But, it is a huge help to know these young people are thinking about John and keeping his memory alive.

“I am so very proud of John and there’s not a day goes by when I’m not thinking about him. He is on my mind when I wake and last thing at night.”

Mrs Amer said the loss is still very hard to deal with. Her son’s widow, Sue, only found the strength a couple of weeks ago to go through her husband’s army belongings, which were returned to her from Afghanistan, and the couple’s daughter, 16-year-old Lisa, always wears her dad’s wedding ring on a chain around her neck.

Southmoor School has raised more than £2,000 for the ABF, through non-uniform days and sales of military charity wristbands and they vow to carry on fund-raising.

John Nicholson, deputy headteacher at the school, said: “We are so proud of our pupils. The respect they give is phenomenal. They really do care and they really do understand.”

Pupil Siobhan Persaud, 16, alone raised £210 of the cash by dressing in combat gear and being sponsored not to speak for the whole day.

She said: “I think more needs to be done to help the soldiers. I don’t think people understand or do enough.

“When you think about the life footballers have, and they are just kicking a ball around.”

Twitter: @Sunechoschools