THE father of the most recent South Yorkshire soldier to be killed in Afghanistan is leading scores of hikers on a walk as part of his efforts by the family to raise £100,000 for the Help for Heroes charity.
Mick Thornton, of Darton, has organised a walk around the 73-mile Barnsley boundary this week, which is expected to take around four days.
His son, Private Matthew Thornton, a Territorial Army soldier from Fourth Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, was killed by a Taliban improvised explosive device last November, at the age of 28.
The walk begins at 8am on Thursday, starting from Matthew’s grave at Darton churchyard.
The group will head to Haigh and then continue around the Barnsley Boundary Walk trail.
Mick said: “I wanted to do something to remember him by. Matthew always liked a challenge.
“He was always into snowboarding and he got himself trained up to instructor level, but there was no way I was doing that!
“This is just a walk in the park.”
Mick said that since his son’s death he has already raised £10,000 for the charity, which helps wounded troops cope with their injuries.
He added: “Our target is to raise £100,000. I know it’s a lot but I’m sure we can do it.
“We are inviting everybody to take part whether they want to do four days or just join us for the day or even just 500 metres. If people want to clap to encourage us that will be a boost.”
Pte Thornton was a pupil at Darton High School before going on to work on the shop floor for Yorkshire firm Premdor, a manufacturer of door and window frames.
He joined the TA in 2004, left briefly in 2007, and then re-enlisted two years later to volunteer for deployment to Afghanistan.
At the time of his death, Pte Thornton’s family said his loss would leave ‘a huge hole in all our lives’.
Army colleagues and commanding officers paid tribute to a ‘gifted, hardworking and determined soldier’ who had ‘an infectious smile and a keen sense of humour’.
He was killed on November 9 last year in the Babaji area of Helmand. Pte Thornton’s patrol was engaged by Taliban gunfire before the fatal explosion was triggered.