Family of ‘warrior’ to be special guests at switch-on

The family of a soldier killed in Afghanistan will be special guests at Lavenham’s Christmas lights switch-on.

Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan Woodgate, who was from the village, was fatally wounded by a grenade while on foot patrol in the Sangin District in March 2010. The 26-year-old was just days away from finishing his fourth tour of duty and returning home.

In Market Place on Friday, his sisters Amy, Gemma and Zoe, together with grandfather David Deacon, will take pride of place as the village signals the start of the festive season.

Sarah Rands, one of the organisers, said: “Jo was a hugely popular, tremendously capable and truly consummate, professional warrior.

“He was a friendly young man with immense charisma, humour and artistic flair whose laid-back manner belied a great strength of character.”

This year, Lavenham has brought together a number of its Christmas events, including its street fair and Salvation Army festival, to run over the course of three days.

Mrs Rands said she hoped the presence of LCoH Woodgate’s family would set the tone for a memorable few days.

“Jo was well-known and very well-respected locally and we are proud to have his family representing him,” she said. “It will be a moving few minutes but it will be fun and festive, too.”

The lights will be switched on at 6pm and there will be more than 40 stalls selling craft, food and decorations throughout the evening.