Helping to guard children of heroes

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THE bravery of a Wearside soldier inspired an army of fund-raisers to help the children of fallen heroes.

Acting Sergeant John Amer, from Ryhope, died in an explosion in the Babaji area of Helmand province, Afghanistan, two years ago.

137430  Date: 02/12/2009   Photographer: CA    'JOHN AMER'copy pic  *****NOT OUR PIC*****

137430 Date: 02/12/2009 Photographer: CA 'JOHN AMER'copy pic *****NOT OUR PIC*****

Despite coming under heavy fire from the Taliban, Sgt Amer rushed to help a fellow soldier injured in an explosion.

But the 30-year-old was caught in a second blast and died of his wounds, leaving behind widow Sue and teenage daughter Lisa.

Earlier this month, fundraisers, including Sgt Amer’s brother Phil, took part in a family fun run from South Shields to Seaburn in aid of the Coldstream Kids charity.

Organiser Keith Powell, vice-chairman of the Coldstream Guards Association, said the event paid tribute to the courage of service personnel such as Sgt Amer.

“We really wanted to do something for Armed Forces Day to honour our troops,” he said.

“The event has raised £800 up to now, but donations are still coming in.”

Mr Powell said the run also remembered a hero of the Second World War.

“One of the oldest members of the association sadly passed away in May,” he said.

“Roy Broadbent served with distinction in North Africa and Italy.

“Roy’s daughter raised £450 from a funeral collection and very kindly donated it to the Coldstream Kids.

“She said it would have been what Roy would have wanted.

“Her son-in-law, who works for Barclays PLC, also offered to be sponsored for the fun run, with his company agreeing to match the donation pound-for-pound.”

The Coldstream Kids was set up in memory of two soldiers from the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards who were killed in action in Iraq in 2000.

The charity helps youngsters who have been affected by the loss of a father due to service, accident and illness.

Mr Powell added: “The charity was set up in memory of Guardsman Anthony Wakefield and Sergeant Christian Hickey.

“The founder of the charity, Franco Gasparotti, who was himself badly injured in Northern Ireland, realised the children in these circumstances suffered badly.

“They have helped many children who have been affected by the sad loss of a father due to service, accident or illness.

“It raised £40,000 for one child who was born without ears.

“He now lives a full and active life.”

Ex-servicemen interested in joining the Coldstream Association should contact Mr Powell on 0774 363 5382.

It meets in Ryhope Village on the first Friday of every month at 7pm.

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho