Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Town mourns NCO killed by Afghan

Hundreds of people lined the streets of a small market town to pay their last respects to an inspirational army sergeant who was known to his men as "dad".

Scores of soldiers just back from Afghanistan were joined by crowds of mourners five-deep along the high street in Skipton, North Yorkshire, ahead of the funeral of Sergeant Gareth Thursby.

Sgt Thursby, 29, was killed by a rogue Afghan policeman last month.

The married father-of-two died with Private Thomas Wroe, 18, also of 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment, when a man dressed as a local Afghan policeman pretended to be injured so they would help him.

Major Malcolm Birkett explained that Sgt Thursby's wife Louise wanted to leave the funeral until his company had arrived back from its tour. He said the men got back to the UK this week.

Maj Birkett said: "Louise asked specifically if we could wait until Alma company returned from operations.

"You can see they're here en masse - 120 of them. They've literally come in from Afghanistan and are here to pay their last respects and take Gareth on his final journey."

Asked to describe the NCO, Maj Birkett said: "One word to sum him up - inspirational. A fantastic leader of men, a superb soldier. He had such an affiliation, a close bond with his men that actually he was called 'dad' throughout the tour.

"That's what they thought of him. He is one-in-a-million, certainly a guy that will be remembered for everything right. He epitomises everything right in the Army."

In a tribute read during the service, Mrs Thursby said: "Even on his R&R, he worried about his men out in Afghanistan. Even while trying to put his feet up he never switched off, wanting to make sure everyone was OK and doing their jobs properly. Apart from his family, his job and his lads meant everything to him."


From Belfast Telegraph