A LASTING tribute has been paid to a courageous soldier killed in Afghanistan.
The family of former instructor Serjeant Steven Campbell unveiled a new centre named in his honour on what would have been his 33rd birthday.
Sjt Campbell, from Pelton, near Chester-le-Street, died after an improvised explosive device detonated while he was on patrol in the Helmand Province.
There were tears yesterday as his son Brandon, 12, opened the new annexe to the mess at the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, proudly wearing the Army’s new multi-terrain pattern uniform.
“My dad’s memory will live on forever,” he said.
“His name will never be forgotten.
“It’s my dad’s birthday today and I know he would be proud. Happy Birthday Dad.”
Also there were Sjt Campbell’s widow Lisa, sister Andrea, parents Kathleen and Freddie and nephew Kieran.
The dad-of-one worked at the ITC between December 2007 and December 2009 before returning to his unit, 3rd Battalion The Rifles, which was then deployed to Afghanistan.
He was just 30 when he was killed by a bomb which had been planted under a bridge where it could not be detected.
It went off as the commended soldier rode a quad bike on patrol on March 22, 2010.
Senior officers described Sjt Campbell as a professional and well-respected member of staff at the ITC.
Lieutenant Colonel Ian Astley said: “It is absolutely right that we honour those that have fallen in this way.
“This is a fitting way to honour and remember an infantryman from the North East in his home region.”
Sjt Campbell’s friend, Colour Sjt Jonpaul Greenwood, said: “He was a fantastic lad, a fantastic soldier and a true ambassador for The Rifles.
“His death broke a lot of people’s hearts.”
Hundreds of mourners lined the streets to say a final farewell to the brave soldier on the day of his funeral.
Bystanders applauded and threw flowers as the funeral cortege made its way to Holy Trinity Church in Pelton, where the 30-year-old lived with his wife and son.
Army colleagues gave the soldier a guard of honour as his coffin, draped in the Union flag, was taken to and from the chapel to the sound of Savage Garden’s To The Moon and Back.
Brandon and his cousin Kieran walked behind the cars, wearing military dress.
Brought up in Ouston, Sjt Campbell began his career as an Army cadet at the age of 13 and, after signing up to the force once he left school, quickly rose through the ranks, promoted to Corporal within two years. He also served in Ireland and Iraq.
He met wife Lisa in a Chester-le-Street nightclub in 1998 and married a year later.