Mum of killed Sheffield military hero thanks Prince Harry for support at Afghanistan ceremony

Corporal Liam Riley served with Prince Harry at a military training unit in Canada in 2007.

Corporal Liam Riley served with Prince Harry at a military training unit in Canada in 2007.

  • Liam Riley trained with Prince Harry before being killed in Afghanistan
  • His mother thanked the prince for his support at a reception yesterday
  • Doncaster’s military hero Ben Parkinson among the guests at St Paul’s Cathedral
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The mother of a Sheffield military hero killed in Afghanistan trying to save a fellow soldier has thanked Prince Harry for his words of support.

Liam Riley, a corporal in the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed in February 2010 when he stepped on to a roadside bomb as he bravely tried to save Lance Corporal Graham Shaw, 27, who had stepped on a similar device just moments before.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry during a commemoration service to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan at St Paul's Cathedral, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry during a commemoration service to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan at St Paul's Cathedral, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Corporal Riley, from Killamarsh, was just 21 when he died.

He had served with Prince Harry when they trained together in Canada and the royal paid tribute to him following his death.

At a special reception for Afghanistan military veterans and their families on Friday, Prince Harry spoke with Corporal Riley’s mother Cheryl Routledge.

The reception followed a service at St Paul’s Cathedral to mark the official end of the 13-year conflict, which cost the lives of 453 British soldiers.

Doncaster's Ben Parkinson at St Paul's Cathedral

Doncaster's Ben Parkinson at St Paul's Cathedral

Wearing his dog tags, a badge with his picture on it and his medals - including his Afghanistan service medal with a leaf, after he was mentioned in despatches - Mrs Routledge chatted with the prince about their memories of her son and thanked him for speaking highly of him following his death.

She said: “He gave a statement saying that he was a ‘legend’ and what a lovely bloke he was.

“I just wanted to thank him for his kind words and for giving us a lift at a time when we desperately needed it.

“He said that he was a special bloke and he deserved to be called a legend, which I am sure all of the 453 families feel.”

Members of the armed forces who have served in Afghanistan march into the Guildhall, London, after a commemoration service to mark the end of combat operations in the country. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Members of the armed forces who have served in Afghanistan march into the Guildhall, London, after a commemoration service to mark the end of combat operations in the country. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mrs Routledge, from Sheffield said that ‘not a second goes by’ when she is not proud of her son.

“But today I am proud of not only him but of all that died, and everyone together is remembered by the nation,” she said.

“I think it will put a line under Afghanistan, which is a good thing for the families.

“But at the same time I am glad it has come to an end so that no one else has got to go through what we have.”

Military personnel gather for a reception at the Honourable Artillery Company in London after a commemoration service to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Niklas Halle'n/PA Wire

Military personnel gather for a reception at the Honourable Artillery Company in London after a commemoration service to mark the end of combat operations in Afghanistan. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Friday March 13, 2015. See PA story MEMORIAL Afghanistan. Photo credit should read: Niklas Halle'n/PA Wire

Prior to the reception, the sacrifices of soldiers from South Yorkshire who fought and died during the campaign to oust the Taliban from Afghanistan were remembered in an emotional ceremony attended by The Queen.

The end of the 13-year conflict was marked by a ceremony of commemoration at St Paul’s Cathedral, where members of the Royal Family joined political leaders and military chiefs, as well as veterans of the campaign.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, publicly thanked those who served, leaving behind family, facing danger and suffering injury while David Cameron said the country was safer because of the efforts of its servicemen and women.

Almost 150,000 UK personnel were deployed to Afghanistan, and 453 British men and women died in the fight against the Taliban insurgency after operations started in October 2001.

Among those killed in the conflict were several soldiers from South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire - two of whom were aged just 18.

Those who lost their lives included Senior Aircraftman Christopher Bridge, 20, Marine David Marsh, 23 and Corporal Liam Riley, 21, all who were from Sheffield.

Also killed was Trooper James Anthony Leverett, 20, who was born in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, and grew up in Sheffield and Rotherham.

Others to lose their lives were Sergeant Lee Paul Davidson, 32, and Rifleman Liam Maughan, 18, both from Doncaster.

Captain Martin Driver, 31, and Private Matthew Thornton, 28, both from Barnsley, also lost their lives, as did Private Ben Ford, 18, from Chesterfield.

The St Paul’s service was attended by the Duke of Edinburgh, Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall, Duke of Cambridge, his heavily-pregnant wife Kate, Prince Harry - who served two tours during the conflict - and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Labour leader Ed Miliband.

Also among the congregation was Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, from Doncaster, thought to have survived the worst ever battlefield injuries in Afghanistan when he lost both legs and sustained more than 40 injuries including brain damage, following a bomb attack in 2006.

In Kabul, British forces who have non-combat roles assisting the Afghan government and Afghan National Defence and Security Forces, joined with coalition comrades for a service to make the end of operations in Afghanistan.

The final chapter in the 13-year conflict came last October when the last British troops were airlifted from the sprawling Camp Bastion base in Helmand Province, leaving behind just the few hundred non-combat personnel.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani told the BBC the 453 UK troops who died had “paid the ultimate sacrifice to enable us to live in freedom, in hope for peace, prosperity and dignity”.

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