Work begins at hero’s memorial

19th April 2011'Work has started on a memorial for Rifleman James Backhouse. ' 'LOCATION: Airedale High School, Crewe Road, Airedale'Pictured: Sharon Backhouse with Service Director Andrew Spurr.'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE
19th April 2011'Work has started on a memorial for Rifleman James Backhouse. ' 'LOCATION: Airedale High School, Crewe Road, Airedale'Pictured: Sharon Backhouse with Service Director Andrew Spurr.'PICTURE: MATTHEW PAGE

DETERMINED mum Sharon Backhouse – who raised £22,000 towards a memorial for her hero son – spoke of her pride as building work on the tribute started this week.

The 47-year-old, of Airedale, told the Express she was “buzzing” as builders began work to create a memorial garden in honour of 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 at the soldier’s former school, Airedale High School, will include a sculpture of the band of brothers by Castleford artist Harry Malkin.

Sharon, of Queen’s Park Drive, said: “I’m absolutely buzzing. It’s absolutely brilliant to see the memorial start to take shape. It’s taken a long time to get to this point and it feels like all our hard work has finally paid off.

“We’ve been overwhelmed by the support of the community – we couldn’t have done this without them.”

The mum hopes the tribute, which has been designed by pupils at the Crewe Road school, will be ready to unveil by July 27 – shortly after the second anniversary of James’ death.

The memorial garden has been funded using £22,000 raised by Sharon’s charity Hope 4 Heroes The James Backhouse Memorial Trust Fund and £25,000 from Wakefield Council.

Sharon said: “It’s going to be an emotional day when the memorial is finally ready. The mums of the other five soldiers are going to come up because it will also remember their sons.

“This has been a long and difficult process – we’ve had to wait to get planning permission to build it at the school, and Harry Malkin wasn’t able to start work on his part of the memorial until we knew we could definitely go ahead.

“It’s taken a lot of hard work and dedication, but we’re almost there now.”

The Hope 4 Heroes charity has £13,000 left, which will go towards its goal of providing caravans for the families of servicemen and women to take a break and creating a drop-in support centre in Yorkshire.

Sharon said: “The fundraising won’t stop. It will cost us between £40,000 and £50,000 to buy caravans with all the appropriate adaptations for disabled people.

“A group of people from Airedale are going to be taking part in a charity skydive and we have a lot of other fundraising events planned.

“We’d like to thank everyone for their support. It means so much to us.”

The charity has also organised a free Armed Forces Day at Castleford Tigers’ ground on Wheldon Road on Saturday June 18.

Visit www.jamesbackhousememorialtrustfund.co.uk for more information about the charity and its fundraising events.