THE proud mother of a Sheffield soldier killed in a bomb blast at the age of 20 has raised almost enough money for a war memorial to honour him and scores of other fallen servicemen buried in a city cemetery.
Nicolette Williams, aged 46, launched her fundraising appeal after her son Christopher Bridge was killed in an explosion in Afghanistan in 2007.
The 20-year-old Senior Aircraftman had been in the Royal Air Force for only two years, but had already performed a tour of duty in Iraq and was tipped to have had a “promising career” ahead of him.
His heartbroken mum, from Shiregreen, was upset to discover her son’s final resting place - Shiregreen Cemetery - did not have a war memorial where his name could be added in recognition of the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country.
She set herself a £35,000 fundraising target - and in just 17 months she now has almost enough to pay for the monument. The appeal has received a huge boost with an £11,700 donation she is set to receive next week, which was raised in collections in city centre bars and nightclubs.
Bar and club staff, together with South Yorkshire Police officers who helped organise the collections, are to present the money to Nicolette in a ceremony next week.
It takes the total raised so far to £29,000.
Nicolette said she is overwhelmed by the support her fundraising campaign has received, and said the memorial would be a lasting tribute to all those in and around Shiregreen who have lost their lives at war.
“The money raised in the pubs and clubs is absolutely fantastic - I never expected such generosity,” she said.
“Most people who donated gave me words of comfort and said they felt sorry for the loss of my son. I spoke to a lot of them about why the forces are still out there in Afghanistan and a lot of people who gave money had tears in their eyes.
“When the memorial is built I will stand there and break down - if it was not for my fundraising giving me something positive to do I honestly think I would be with my son now.
“It has been like therapy for me, doing everything I can to immortalise the soldiers who have given their lives.”
Senior Aircraftman Bridge was described by the Ministry of Defence as an ‘extremely popular and professional Gunner’ with an ‘infectious sense of humour’.
The memorial will also honour Royal Marine Lance Corporal Jamie Fellows, 26, of Parson Cross, who was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan, and the names of another 69 men buried in Shiregreen cemetery after losing their lives in the Second World War.
Businesses willing to sponsor the memorial or anyone wanting to donate should email firstname.lastname@example.org and details will be passed to Nicolette.