On June 6th, 2007, the life of a Hucknall family changed for ever.
For on that day, Lance Corporal Paul “Sandy” Sandford was killed while taking part in an offensive patrol with his company aimed at disrupting Taliban forces in the Upper Gereshk Valley area of Helmand Province, Afghanistan.
The 23 year old, a former Hucknall Holgate Comprehensive pupil, was described as an “exceptional fighting man” and “enormously popular”.
The family are still mourning the loss of a treasured son and friend to many.
His step-dad Roy (53), who had married Paul’s mum Jane, said: “It was a few years ago but we are getting there slowly.
“He was a smashing lad, well respected and with a heart of gold.
“I lost a close friend, a best mate and he treated me as though I were his dad.”
The family attended a special event in Worcestershire yeterday.
Paul had been with the 1st Battalion The Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters when he died.
The Foresters form part of the Mercian Regiment, and Paul’s family watched yesterday as the regiment was presented with its new colours.
Paul had been married a year, to his wife Gaynor, and, according to the Ministry of Defence report following his death, had spoken to his friends about starting a family.
He had joined 1WFR as a junior soldier in Chester in 2002 serving continuously with B Company. He saw overseas service with the Battalion in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan on Op Herrick 1 in 2004, Kenya, Belize and Canada.