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Soldier posthumously awarded Victoria Cross was ‘unbelievable’ – Camilla

By PA News

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The Queen paid tribute to a Grenadier Guardsman posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross when she met military families supported by the regiment’s charity.

Camilla praised the bravery of Lance Corporal James Ashworth as she chatted to his parents, Duane and Caroline Ashworth, telling them “I’m just full of admiration”.

She is Colonel of the Grenadier Guards and welcomed former soldiers and their families to Clarence House for a reception, her first engagement as patron of the Colonel’s Fund.

The Queen poses with fund members and beneficiaries during The Colonel’s Fund event at Clarence House (John Stillwell/PA)
The Queen poses with fund members and beneficiaries during The Colonel’s Fund event at Clarence House (John Stillwell/PA)

Speaking about L/Cpl Ashworth’s actions, recognised with the British armed forces’ highest military decoration, she told his parents: “You must be so proud, for somebody to be awarded the Victoria Cross is something else.

“It’s unbelievable, I read his citation and couldn’t believe it.”

L/Cpl Ashworth, 23, from Corby in Northamptonshire, was killed during an operation to eliminate a group of insurgent sharpshooters in the Nahr-e Saraj district of Helmand province, Afghanistan, in June 2012.

During the firefight the soldier and his team pressed the insurgents and in the final moments L/Cpl Ashworth moved from behind a wall to get better aim to throw a grenade, exposing himself to fire and was fatally shot.

His 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.”

Camilla talks to Lance Sergeant Markus Strydom (John Stillwell/PA)
Camilla talks to Lance Sergeant Markus Strydom (John Stillwell/PA)

The Colonel’s Fund was established in 2007 and provides help with mobility aid, home improvements, employment training and counselling.

Matt Elmer, a retired Grenadier Guards Colour Sergeant who serves as Regimental Casualty Officer, delivers services to those in need.

He said about the veterans whom he helps: “The key thing is they know I’m there. We want to get people back on their feet, so to speak.

“They might be fine but then they might have a dip but all they have to do is pick up the phone and I am there.”

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