Father hopes story of soldier killed in combat will aid others

MEMORY: L-Cpl Jonathan Woodgate.
MEMORY: L-Cpl Jonathan Woodgate.

A father’s tribute to a Lavenham soldier killed in Afghanistan has been sent to two million homes as part of a Remembrance appeal.

Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan Woodgate, known as Jo, died in a grenade attack in Helmand Province in 2010 aged 27.

Prince Harry, who served alongside Jo in the Blues and Royals regiment, planted a wooden cross tribute to his comrade at the Field of Remembrance at Lydiard Park, near Royal Wootton Bassett, three years ago.

Now the Royal British Legion has used a tribute from Jo’s dad Tony as its national appeal for Remembrance crosses and donations – sent to two million homes.

“If there is anything I can do to prolong the memory of Jo, then that is what I will do,” said Mr Woodgate, who lives in Monks Eleigh.

“The longer I can keep his memory at the front of people’s minds the better.”

The RBL’s letter features a moving tribute from Mr Woodgate, telling the story of Jo’s childhood and bravery during his two tours of Iraq and two in Afghanistan.

He met Prince Harry during the first Lydiard Park tribute planting in 2010.

“He took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said ‘Jo was a very special chap.’ I treasure those words,” said Mr Woodgate.

He praised the work the Royal British Legion does, including the Field of Remembrance which includes 35,000 wooden crosses being planted in memory of everyone who has died in combat.

“It has always offered me any help and support I needed,” said Mr Woodgate.

“I can’t put into words how much it means to know that these boys and girls are remembered by so many.”

A spokeswoman for the Royal British Legion said: “After Prince Harry planted the tribute to Jo, there was a lot of interest from people who wanted to know more about him, so we chose his story for our appeal.”

To plant a tribute to those who have lost their lives, fill in the forms sent to households and return them with the wooden cross.

Tributes and donations can also be submitted online at www.britishlegion.org.uk/dedicate.