Hundreds honour soldier at memorial

Published Saturday, 18 August 2012
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Several hundred people gathered in Portadown as the name of a soldier killed in Afghanistan two years ago was added to the town's war memorial.

Hundreds honour soldier at memorial
The service was held on Saturday morning. (© UTV)

A special service was held for Lieutenant Neal Turkington on Saturday morning and wreaths were laid as his family, friends and colleagues paid tribute to him.

The 26-year-old was killed in July 2010 when a renegade Afghan soldier launched a rocket-propelled grenade attack on the 1st The Royal Gurkha Rifles base.

Two other soldiers from the same battalion were also killed.

Neal's father, Ivor Turkington, told UTV the family have been supported "overwhelmingly" by his home town since the incident.

"Neal was very proud to be a son of Portadown," he said.

"The town since his death has been overwhelming and very supportive and compassionate to our family - this is a day for Portadown to show how proud they are of Neal."

Following the parade, a religious service was held beside the Co Armagh town's war memorial outside St Mark's, the church from which the soldier was buried in 2010.

The service was led by Reverend Canon Terence Cadden.

During the service, Lieutenant Turkington's name was added to Portadown's war memorial - the first to be added to the monument since 1945.

Hundreds of people attended including the Mayor of Craigavon and politicians including the DUP's Arlene Foster. Wreaths were also laid by the soldier's family.

Ms Foster said: "Once Neal goes out of living memory his name will be there on the memorial for future generations to reflect on."

Jo-Anne Dobson of the UUP said: "This is the first addition to this symbol of remembrance in Portadown since the end of the Second World War with Lt Turkington's name proudly displayed alongside those who made the ultimate sacrifice in previous conflicts.

"Their memory is honoured and those who are presently serving in or armed forces are always in our thoughts and heartfelt prayers."

It was an emotional day for the Turkington family who said this was another "milestone in reflection" for them.

They said they hope that other families affected by war will draw strength from the service remembering the sacrifice their loved ones have made.

Captain Doug Beattie of the Royal British Legion in Portadown said: "For the family it was a lovely service and what it does is let them know that the town remembers.

"There was a good degree of passion and dignity and that's what we really wanted, an opportunity for the town to remember one of their own, someone who grew up in the town, went to school there and touched so many lives."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Matt in London wrote (890 days ago):
So young, they should never be there. R.I.P.
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