Heroes’ tribute

Sharon Backhouse is upset mindless yobs have stolen teddies from her son Rifleman James Backhouse's grave
Sharon Backhouse is upset mindless yobs have stolen teddies from her son Rifleman James Backhouse's grave

THE devastated family of an Airedale solider killed in Afghanistan will stand together with the relatives of his fallen comrades as a memorial is unveiled in their memory.

Sharon Backhouse, 47, of Queen’s Park Drive, will reveal the long-awaited tribute to her son Rifleman James Backhouse, 18, who was killed in an explosion with five comrades from 2nd Battalion The Rifles in July 2009.

Part of the memorial garden at the soldier’s former school, Airedale High School, includes a sculpture of the band of brothers by Castleford artist Harry Malkin.

Sharon said: “I’ve been waiting for this day for a long time and I’m sure it’s gong to be emotional, but it’s not about me – it’s about James and the boys who lost their lives.

“They deserve this tribute and I’m glad the other mums will be with me to see it.”

The memorial garden – designed with help from pupils at the Crewe Road school – has been funded using £22,000 raised by Sharon’s charity Hope 4 Heroes The James Backhouse Memorial Trust Fund and a £25,000 donation from Wakefield Council.

Its centrepiece is a sculpture bearing the faces of James and his comrades Cpl Jonathan Horne, 28, Rifleman Joseph Murphy, 18, Rifleman Daniel Simpson, 20, and Rifleman William Aldridge, 18.

Sharon said: “It’s been a long and difficult process, but I’m glad it’s finally done and I can’t wait to see it.

“It’s now been two years since James died and I’ve been determined to do this in his memory.

“I’d like to thank everyone for their support – especially everyone who’s donated or organised a fundraising event. The support has been overwhelming.”

The memorial will be unveiled at the Crewe Road school on Saturday at 2pm.

See next week’s Express for a full report and pictures.