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Moving Thetford service for soldiers

PUBLISHED: 09:41 24 November 2008 | UPDATED: 21:20 07 July 2010

The families of two Royal Anglians killed in Afghanistan attended a moving ceremony at the weekend as a memorial garden was opened in their memory.

Relatives of L/Cpl Alex Hawkins and Pte Aaron McClure attended the ceremony at the weekend training centre for the Norfolk and Suffolk Army Cadet Forces (ACF) in Thetford on Saturday.

The families of two Royal Anglians killed in Afghanistan attended a moving ceremony at the weekend as a memorial garden was opened in their memory.

Relatives of L/Cpl Alex Hawkins and Pte Aaron McClure attended the ceremony at the weekend training centre for the Norfolk and Suffolk Army Cadet Forces (ACF) in Thetford on Saturday.

Two benches bearing the men's names and a third bench remembering those who have served in Norfolk and Suffolk ACF and have lost their lives in the cause of humanity, freedom and justice since January 1, 2007, were unveiled at the ceremony.

The Garden of Remembrance was opened by Brigadier Mike Wharmby OBE, general secretary of the Army Cadet Forces' Association, and the service was conducted by Canon Michael Woods, Suffolk ACF senior chaplin.

The garden was created with about £6,000 raised by the Norfolk and Suffolk ACF.

L/Cpl Hawkins, 22, from Beetley, was killed in an attack in Helmand province on July 25 last year. He was killed by a Taliban bomb while travelling in a convoy in an armoured vehicle.

Pte McClure, from Ipswich, was killed on August 23 last year in a “friendly fire” incident in Helmand province.

The 19-year-old and two other comrades, Ptes John Thrumble, 21, and Robert Foster, 19, died after they were bombed by a US F15 fighter jet during a fierce battle with the Taliban.

Both L/Cpl Hawkins and Pte McClure were former cadets.

L/Cpl Hawkins' mother Jan, a Captain at Norfolk ACF, said the service meant a great deal. She said: “It is an absolutely terrific tribute to the two boys. Both of them were cadets, one from Norfolk, the other from Suffolk.

“This is a cadet training venue for Norfolk and Suffolk, so it is somewhere fitting. The cadets who come here will, we hope, take notice of the benches and use them and remember these boys were once like them and are now no more.

“These lads have given everything. They have shown remarkable courage in terrible conditions and have paid the ultimate price. Their names should be remembered.”

After the ceremony, Lorraine McClure, Pte McClure's mother said: “It was very moving. This was Aaron's first love; the cadets was where he started. He spent many weekends here in Thetford. It means an awful lot to us. We will definitely come here and sit and reflect. This makes us even more proud.”

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