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 a roadside bomb as he bravely tried to save Lance Corporal Graham Shaw, aged 27, who had stepped on a similar device just moments before.
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.
Prince Harry spoke with Corporal Riley’s mother Cheryl Routledge at a special reception for Afghanistan military veterans and their families to mark the official end of the 13-year conflict, .
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 of her son and thanked him for speaking highly of him.
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 he was a special bloke and he deserved to be called a legend, which I am sure all of the 453 families feel.”
Mrs Routledge said ‘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. 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.”
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.
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.