'She was the best soldier': Friends and family speak of 31-year-old's passion for the Army after her sudden death
A Sunderland soldier who became one of the few women to lead part of an artillery regiment has died suddenly aged 31.
Bombardier Nadine Dorothy Askew signed up after leaving Castle View Enterprise Academy, ready to travel the world and dedicate her life to the Army.
Known as Skew or Dotty, she completed a tour of Iraq, two of Afghanistan and joined peacekeeping duties in Estonia, first serving in the 26th Regiment Royal Artillery, 16 Sandhams Battery, before becoming a phase 2 instructor, training recruits on an AS-90 armoured vehicle with the 1 Royal Horse Artillery (1RHA).
Three weeks ago, she joined a Queen’s gun salute in Edinburgh, with her role making her one of the few women be in command of the gun.
Her funeral, on Wednesday, August 18, at Holy Trinity Church in Southwick, will be a full Army service and include a gun salute and Last Post, while her casket will be decorated with the Union Flag, while her two regimental flags will also feature.
The black horses pulling her carriage will be decorated in blue and yellow, her regimental colours.
It will leave her family home followed by her relations, friends and her beloved Spanish hound Sasha, with the ashes of her springer spaniel Jessie, who died while she was in Afghanistan, to be buried with her in a private ceremony following the service.
She leaves mum Amanda, 54, stepdad Malcolm Johnston, 60, brothers Ross, 33, who also served in 1RHA, and Gareth, 25, and Ross’s children Ellie, eight, and Jack, two.
Amanda said: “She was loved, she was cherished, she had a heart of gold and if there was any trouble, she would deal anybody out.
"She had two families, she had us and she had her girls, her Army friends, and they were great friends and looked after each other.
"She will be terribly missed.”
Amanda and Malcolm have thanked those who have sent flowers and messages as well as those who offered support during Nadine’s career, including Amanda’s catering colleagues at Sunderland Royal, who packed up boxes of treats and supplies for her regiment while in Afghanistan.
Nadine’s friends Amara Cummerson, 24, Hannah Briers, 30, and Sammie Preece, 29, have visited Sunderland to spend time with Amanda and described how their loyal and loving friend was happiest when she was in the back of her armoured vehicle, covered in dirt and leading her team.
She had a sense of adventure and spontaneity which took them on trips across Europe in her campervan with Sasha, while Nadine had recently passed her motorcycle test.
They said: “She lived for her job, and we would say she was the best soldier.
"She was a very robust, resilient, and the people she took on who were new to the regiment were just as good as those who had been there for years, she made them that way.”
Nadine died suddenly at her barracks in Larkhill, near Salisbury, on Thursday, July 22.
An Army spokesperson said its thoughts were with her family and was respecting their right to privacy at this sad time.
They added: “It is the coroner's role to determine cause of death and it would be highly inappropriate to speculate.”
The funeral plans are being supported by Sunderland’s Tony Clarke Funeral Directors.