Tributes for bereaved mother who campaigned for soldiers killed on duty
The campaigning mother of an Afghan war hero killed almost five years ago has lost her own battle against illness.
Margaret McCormick, whose soldier son Aaron was blown up by a Taliban bomb in Helmand Province, died on Sunday morning.
Hundreds of tributes have been paid to the devoted Co Londonderry woman who fought tirelessly for the UK Government to introduce its own version of the Purple Heart.
Although families of British troops are presented with the Elizabeth Cross, Mrs McCormick had wanted official recognition for the sacrifice of individual British troops killed or injured in the line of duty.
She also lobbied successfully to have her son's name included on the war memorial in their home town, Coleraine.
Ranger Aaron McCormick, 22, was fatally wounded while helping to clear an area of improvised explosive devices during a patrol in the Nad Ali south region of Helmand on Remembrance Sunday, 2010.
He had been on his second tour of duty, serving with the 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment.
Ulster Unionist Doug Beattie, a former Army captain who served alongside Ranger McCormick, said his mother had endured unbearable grief.
He said "It is unimaginable that a mother or parent has to go through what Margaret McCormick had to go through with the loss of her beloved son Aaron.
"I was on tour with him; I was speaking with him the night before his death and he was such a wonderful person and he loved his mother dearly.
"The passing of Margaret just over two weeks before his fifth anniversary is incredibly poignant and sad."
Democratic Unionist alderman Alan Robinson visited Mrs McCormick in hospital last week.
He paid tribute to her strength of spirit.
" Today she is now with Aaron in glory but leaves behind a grieving and loving family where our hearts go out to her husband Leslie and to her family circle.
"May their treasured memories give them peace and comfort in the days and weeks ahead.
"For many she will be forever remembered and forever missed."
Independent MLA for East Londonderry Claire Sugden carried out research for Mrs McCormick's campaign.
She said: "I was very, very sad to learn of Maggie's passing.
"Although I didn't know her personally I worked with her son Aaron and daughter many years ago.
"She never stopped hurting from Aaron's death.
"It was clear to everyone she met that she was broken hearted and she carried that loss with her every day."