The dad of a Hucknall soldier tragically killed on duty in Afghanistan hopes to commemorate the tenth anniversary of his son’s death with a moment’s silence.
Lance-Corporal Paul Sandford was only 23-years-old when he was shot on an “offensive patrol” with his company in the Upper Gereshk Valley area of the notoriously dangerous Helmand Province, clearing a Taliban compound, on June 6, 2007.
Paul, who had celebrated his first wedding anniversary only the month before, was killed during his second tour of duty, just two weeks before he was due to return home.
His dad Terry recalled the procession from St Mary Magdalene church to Paul’s burial at Broomhill cemetery, where a 21 gun salute was fired.
He said: “For me as a father, coming down the High Street was just unbelievable. Everybody stopped and everybody was silent.
“The whole of Hucknall came out on to the street. The town came to a standstill. We never heard a bird chirp or a dog bark. It was totally silent.
“I thought it would be nice if the whole of Hucknall could turn out to say a thank you. He served for us and lost his life for us.”
Terry, 56, of Sutton, is now planning an event to commemorate Paul on Saturday, June 10, with some of his former comrades from the 1st Battalion of the Worcestershire and Sherwood Foresters, as well as family and friends.
Although the details have yet to be confirmed, Terry hopes it will include a church service as well as a celebration at the Royal British Legion. For more, visit the Paul Sandford (Sandie) Facebook page.
A former pupil of Holgate Comprehensive School, Paul had spoken openly about the dangers in Afghanistan. He was hoping to start a family with his wife, Gaynor, when he returned from his latest mission.
Speaking of his son, Terry said: “Ten years ago was a bright young lad. It seems very strange not to have him around.
“He was a rebel at school, there’s no doubt about it! He kept shooting me with a shoot-around-the-corner pellet gun, even when he was 16 or 17.
“He even died on D Day. He was British Army through and through. I am so proud of him. I wonder what he would have turned out like today.”
After Paul’s death, Terry moved to Malta and worked as a hotel entertainer, before returning to the Ashfield area three years ago.
Terry said: “It is hard. It gets harder every year. I have a photo of where he passed away, taken two days after his death. It looks peaceful. You wouldn’t believe there had been a battle there.
“That day ten years ago, when the whole of Hucknall came out, we all became one family. It would be a nice gesture to do it again.”