Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 April 2014

Parents pay tribute to hero soldier

The Victoria Cross is the armed forces' highest decoration

The mother of a "supremely courageous and inspiring" soldier awarded a posthumous Victoria Cross for his valour in Afghanistan said she misses him and his smile "so much".

Lance Corporal James Ashworth, 23, will receive the medal in recognition of his "extraordinary courage" while serving with the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards in Helmand province last year.

But wiping away tears, his mother Kerry, 44, said that although the award had made her "ecstatically happy", the announcement had brought back the pain of his death too.

"I miss his smile. He's got the best smile anyone could ever have. He always smiles... and his hugs. I just love him so much," she said.

"(This award) doesn't make it easier but it does make it feel that it wasn't for nothing, he was making a difference out there and James believed in his job.

"We just miss him so much, but this award is not just for James it's for everybody who fights and who has been injured and the whole town is so proud of him."

Mrs Ashworth, L/Cpl Ashworth's father Duane and his younger brother Coran - also a serving soldier - were present when the citation for awarding the country's highest award for gallantry was read out at the Grenadier Guards barracks in Aldershot, Hampshire.

L/Cpl Ashworth, from Corby, Northamptonshire, was killed as he stormed an insurgent position in the Nahr-e-Saraj district of Helmand in June 2012.

The citation read: "Despite the ferocity of the insurgent's resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten. His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack.

"This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition."

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