Family of former Sunderland marine who was shot dead in Iraq set up charity
A new charity has been set up by the grieving family of a former Sunderland marine who was shot dead in Iraq.
The loved ones of Phillip Harris hope that the organisation will be able to assist those who leave the Armed Forces after serving.
Phillip, who was from the Red House area of Sunderland, was gunned down at a villa in the city of Erbil in August 2014 while he was working for a private security firm.
The dad-of-two, who was 37 at the time of his death, had signed up to serve in the marines almost immediately after leaving school.
Following tours in war-torn countries such as Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan among others, he decided to leave the forces in 2004
A man was arrested on suspicion of killing Phillip remains on police bail and an inquest into his death remains on hold as the legal process in Iraq takes its course.
His loving sister Mandy Smillie told the Echo: “We’ve set the charity up to help ex-Forces people in memory of Phillip.
“There are loads of fund-raising events going to be going on over the next few months.
“Phillip was always trying to help people when he came back home.
“One of the things he always said he wanted to do was help soldiers who’ve fallen on hard times get off the street and that’s what we hope to do with the charity.”
Mandy now hopes that those wanting to help out will sign up for a charity skydive event, while a fund-raising night will take place at Hepworth and Grandage Social Club, where Phillip often visited, on August 12.
Other events are also in the pipeline.
Phillip’s family have also bought a stone on the new Veterans Walk memorial in Sunderland’s Mowbray Park, in tribute to him.
“Setting up the charity is a way of getting through things for us as a family,” added Mandy, 41, of Murton.
“It’s very hard having to wait so long to fight for justice, but I feel like I need to do this to keep myself focused in the meantime.”
For more details or to get involved in helping the charity, search for “Ex Forces Help and Support in the Memory of Phil Harris” on Facebook.