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Skipton's 'hero’ soldier brought home
11:41am Thursday 27th September 2012 in News
A Skipton soldier, gunned down by a rogue Afghan policeman at a checkpoint in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, has been repatriated.
The body of father-of-two Gareth Thursby - who served with the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment - was flown back on Thursday to RAF Brize Norton where his Union flag-draped coffin was carried from the plane with full military honours A private ceremony was held on the air base before the cortege left for the 20-mile journey to John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford.
Hundreds of residents, including local schoolchildren and British Legion members, turned out to pay their respects and to stand shoulder to shoulder with Sgt Thursby’s family and friends.
Corporal Jonathan Roberts, formerly of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (3YORKS), said: “Thursby was an amazing bloke. He was a very professional soldier and a great guy to be with. I have lost a friend and I am devastated.”
Last week, Sgt Thursby’s wife, Louise, paid her own tribute to her husband She said: “Gareth was the love of my life. He was an amazing husband and father, happy, full of life and kind hearted with a passion for his work and family. He was brave, hardworking, a loving husband who was a devoted father to his children. Our hero.”
The couple were married at St Thomas’ Church, Sutton-in-Craven, in 2005.
Gareth, who was brought up in the Broughton Road area of Skipton, joined the Army after leaving South Craven School, Cross Hills , in 1999.
He had served in Kosovo and Iraq and was platoon sergeant of the battalion’s Alma Company.
His commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Stenning, said he was admired and deeply respected by his soldiers and peers for his soldiering skills, physical strength and forthright honesty. “We have lost one of our finest,” he said.
Funeral details have not yet been released, but a military ceremony is expected.
Sgt Thursby is survived by his wife, and children Joshua and Ruby.