‘You never get over the pain’ – tributes to soldier

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MORE tributes have been paid to a Wearside soldier shot and killed by a rogue member of the Afghan National Army.

Sapper Richard Walker, from Washington, died on Monday in an apparent ‘insider attack’ by a member of the ANA at Patrol Base Hazrat in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province.

Richard, 23, was working on a construction task with other military engineers from his troop, as part of preparations to hand the camp over to Afghan security forces, when the rogue soldier turned his weapon on ANA and ISAF soldiers at the base.

Yesterday, the Echo spoke to Richard’s mum, Kathryn Walker, 46, of Blackfell, Washington, who told of her heartbreak after hearing of her son’s death.

Today, those who know Richard and other Wearside families who have lost loved ones in Iraq and Afghanistan told of their shock at the news.

Mike Beverley, Head of School at Washington School where Richard was a pupil, said: “We are very saddened to hear of the tragic loss of Richard.

“Teachers described him as a caring, genuine, lovely lad.

“Richard was very popular with both his fellow students and staff and we were very proud of his achievements in the Army.

“We feel immensely sad that we have lost one of our community and our thoughts, prayers and condolences go out to his family and friends in this very difficult time.”

Wearside families of other soldiers killed in action have also passed on their condolences.

Janice Procter, 51, the mother of Michael Tench, who at just 18, was killed in Iraq in January 2007, today said her heart went out to Sapper Walker’s family.

Janice who lives near the Walker family in Washington said: “It’s such a devastating thing to happen. I just want them to know I’m thinking about them.

“You never get over that kind of pain and I’m further down the line and still feel it every day.

“When I heard about what happened, I was so saddened.”

Private Tench, of A Company, 2nd Battalion The Light Infantry, died as a result of injuries sustained from an improvised explosive device placed at a roadside in Basrah City, Southern Iraq.

Tom Cuthbertson, whose son Nathan, 19, was killed in a suicide bomb attack in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province in 2008, also told today of his sadness at the news.

Tom, 43, of Tunstall, Sunderland, said: “We want to send our condolences and heartfelt sympathies out to the family. We know exactly what they are going through. It must be unbearable for them.”

Sapper Walker’s mum, Kathryn, today passed on her thanks to Captain Mark Allison, from the Army Benevolent Fund.

She said: “I wanted to thank him for the way he has helped the whole family.”

Twitter: @Sunderlandecho