Mother of fallen soldier speaks of her gratitude

Caroline Whitaker, the mother of fallen soldier Gareth Thursby clutches a portrait of her son

Caroline Whitaker, the mother of fallen soldier Gareth Thursby

First published in News Craven Herald: Photograph of the Author by , Senior Reporter

The mother of Sergeant Gareth Thursby, whose funeral attracted thousands of people to mourn his loss, has spoken of being overwhelmed by the response.

People lined Skipton High Street seven and eight deep, standing in silence except for a murmur of quiet clapping, as Gareth’s coffin was brought to Holy Trinity Church for the service or remembrance on Friday, October 26.

His mother Caroline, who lives in Padiham, said she was moved beyond words when she and her husband Brian, daughter-in-law Louise and her children Ruby and Joshua arrived before the church.

“All those people who had come out – it was overwhelming. I expected a lot of people but nothing could have prepared me for the amount of people who were there,” she said.

“Everybody was so respectful. When we left the Howcrofts funeral services in Duckett Street there were some builders nearby. They downed tools and came out and stood outside with their hats off.”

Mrs Whitaker said that initially the funeral had been planned to take place in Sutton but she was now glad the venue had been changed to Skipton because the village would not have coped with the number of people.

She called on people to support the Yorkshire Regiment charity in which people are asked to contribute to a fund which will send soldiers who have served in Afghanistan for adventure weekends.

Gareth had been hoping to go skiing.

Gareth, of Sutton and a former student at South Craven School, who was affectionately called “dad” by his colleagues in the army, was killed on September 15 in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand, just six days before his 30th birthday.

His killer was a rogue Afghan police officer who was shot dead in the incident.

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