GRIEVING relatives of a South Yorkshire soldier killed in Afghanistan have raised almost £2,000 for a forces charity.
Private Matthew Thornton, a Territorial Army soldier of 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, died in a roadside explosion in November.
He was later buried with full military honours at All Saints’ Church in his home village of Darton.
After Matthew’s death on November 9, just six days after his 28th birthday, his brother Nathan set up an online charity page to raise £100,000 in the TA soldier’s memory for Help for Heroes.
Since then the family – parents Michael and Susan, brother Nathan and sister Sarah – has received more than 70 donations, taking the current total to £1,957.
Writing in a message on the page, Nathan said Matthew will be ‘greatly missed’ and ‘lived his life the best he could’.
He said: “He was the best brother anyone could ever want, and sadly died doing what he did best, which was protecting those around him and looking out for anyone he could.
“He was an absolutely amazing brother and an even better son to my parents.
“Things will be difficult for a long time to come but your donations and support will help us all dearly – not just our family but the families of all the troops still in the conflicts and sadly those who are no longer here.”
Matthew, a former pupil at Darton High School, worked for local firm Premdor, which makes door and window frames.
He signed up for the Territorial Army in 2004 but left three years later, only to re-enlist in 2009, eager to deploy to Afghanistan.
At the time of his death Matthew was serving with 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment. The blast happened while he was on duty at Babaji in Helmand province.
Matthew was patrolling with a group of soldiers when they were caught in an attack involving small arms fire and grenades.
As the soldier responded he was caught in the blast and died.
Nearly 1,000 people lined the route and gathered in the churchyard to pay their respects at Matthew’s funeral.
He was described as a ‘selfless’ soldier who ‘paid the ultimate sacrifice’.
Matthew could have been destined for promotion after finishing his tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Help for Heroes supports servicemen and women wounded in Britain’s current conflicts.
Log on to www.justgiving.com/michael-thornton1 to donate.