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Dinner marks seven years since Lavenham soldier Jo’s death

Tony Woodgate at a gala dinner in memory of his son Jo Woodgate
Tony Woodgate at a gala dinner in memory of his son Jo Woodgate

A gala dinner to mark the seventh anniversary of the death of a Lavenham soldier raised more than £5,000 for charity.

Friends and family of Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan Woodgate gathered at Stoke-by-Nayland Hotel and Spa for a special gala dinner in his memory.

Gala dinner in memory of Jo Woodgate
Gala dinner in memory of Jo Woodgate

L/Cpl Woodgate was fatally wounded by a grenade thrown from behind a wall while he was on foot patrol in Sangin in the Helmand province of Afghanistan on March 26, 2010.

Aged 26, he had served in the prestigious Household Cavalry Regiment alongside Prince Harry.

His father, Tony, who was accompanied by his wife, Jayne, were joined by 170 people to remember the soldier at the recent three-course gala dinner.

Mr Woodgate, who lives in Monks Eleigh, said: “It was really nice to see so many of Jo’s friends, both military and civilian.

“Some had travelled a long way – from Ireland and even one from Iceland.

“As you can imagine, the night was taken up with chatting, dancing and drinking and many of us stayed over, not least because we lost an hour’s sleep and the next day was Mother’s Day.”

He added: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who contributed one way or another to make this evening one to remember.”

He said that an auction conducted by auctioneer Peter Crichton from Bury St Edmunds raised £1,800.

“Peter kindly did this for free,” he said. “Later, a raffle was held with some 40 prizes and this raised another £1,800.”

“By the end of the evening, we had raised £5,000 (inclusive of ticket sales) to be split between Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.”

In 2010, Prince Harry planted a cross in memory of L/Cpl Woodgate at the opening of the Royal British Legion Wootton Bassett Field of Remembrance, the first to be dedicated to those killed in Afghanistan.

Up to 35,000 crosses were planted within the grounds of Lydiard Park, near to the town of Wootton Bassett, each with a personal message to commemorate the 342 men and women killed in Afghanistan.

L/Cpl Woodgate was the 278th British servicemen killed in the conflict.

The former Great Cornard Upper School pupil had joined the Army Foundation College in 2001, rapidly rising through the ranks of the Household Cavalry.

He was on his fourth operational tour and just days away from flying home to Lavenham when he was killed.

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