TWO Sheffield mothers who lost their sons in Afghanistan have collected the £35,000 needed for a new city war memorial - just 20 months after launching their fundraising appeal.
Nicolette Williams’ son, RAF Senior Aircraftsman Christopher Bridge, was killed in 2007 aged 20, and Ann Fellows’ son, Royal Marine Lance Corporal Steven Jamie Fellows, was killed the following year, aged 26.
Both women launched their campaign to create a war memorial in Shiregreen Cemetery - the only city graveyard without one.
The new monument is to be in the shape of a compass, made from granite, carved by stonemason Alexander Hanson who used to work for Sheffield Council.
He will include the names of Christopher Bridge and Jamie Fellows, as well as those of the 69 Second World War veterans buried at the cemetery.
Nicolette told The Star today: “Starting out, the war memorial was just a dream I had.
“Now, with a lot of hard work, determination, tears and laughter - and fantastic support from the community - it is going to be a reality. I really appreciate everyone’s support and understanding.
“The appeal was launched only in January last year and I never thought we would achieve our target so quickly.”
Shiregreen Cemetery is the final resting place for SAC Bridge and, while LCpl Fellows was cremated, he was from nearby Southey Green and his family want a lasting tribute to him in the area.
Nicolette and Ann raised the money by holding sales of second hand goods, asking for donations from friends and colleagues, and staging collections around the city.
Their £35,000 target was finally achieved after South Yorkshire Police held a fundraising boxing show which generated £2,100.
The appeal’s first major success was a £4,100 donation from Brightside and Hillsborough Labour MP David Blunkett, a member of the last Government which sent British troops to Afghanistan.
The appeal has also been helped by donations from members of the public who held their own fundraising events.
Nicolette, who attended the police boxing show at the Niagara Sports and Social Club with younger son Jamie and with Ann, said: “I want to say a massive thank you to everyone who contributed at the boxing night.
“The police have been fantastic - the boxing show is the latest of several ways they have helped the appeal. They held collections at their bravery awards this year and last year, and organised a collection around pubs in the city centre.”
Ann Fellows collected donations for the war memorial appeal at the Northern General Hospital, where she works as a cleaner, and by holding fundraising car boot sales in Whitby, where she stays regularly at a caravan park.
Ann, whose son was a boxer and passed up the opportunity to fight for the Royal Marines so he could stay with his commando unit for his fateful tour of duty, said: “I’m overwhelmed with the amount of support we have had for the appeal.
“Jamie used to box himself, and it was a fitting tribute that the final amount of money raised was from an event involving the sport he loved.”
South Yorkshire Police Chief Constable Med Hughes called Nicolette and Ann’s appeal a ‘great cause’.
“PCSO Shaun Davis and PC Darren McKenna worked tirelessly to organise the event,” he said. “I was very impressed with the fighting skills shown by colleagues.”