ORPINGTON: Hero soldier's father makes Poppy plea
PUBLISHED: 12:23 04 November 2010
The father of a rifleman killed in Afghanistan will release 300 balloons as a tribute to his heroic son as he marks the first Remembrance Day without him.
Stephen Brown, from St Pauls Cray, whose son James Brown was killed by suicide bombers while serving in Sangin, Afghanistan, last December, has used the occasion to urge the public to get behind the ‘amazing’ Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal on its 70th anniversary.
Mr Brown, 51, and his three daughters will attend the Remembrance Sunday ceremony on November 14 at the war memorial in Orpington where James Brown’s name has just been inscribed.
This Saturday the family will release 300 balloons in Bromley town centre in memory of the men and women who have lost their lives in the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts.
The symbolic act forms part of an elaborate and poignant series of events in Market Square and the High Street organised by Bromley council to mark the launch of the Poppy Appeal. Thirty white doves will be released to commemorate all armed forces casualties since World War I.
Mr Brown told the Times: “I am so proud of him. It grows on me bit by bit, day by day, just how brave he was. We will never be able to put into context what those boys are doing out there every day.
“Having his name on the memorial means one hell of a lot to us as a family. It shows his life wasn’t wasted. He has gone but I don’t want him to be forgotten. He will never be forgotten.”
He added: “I hope that people get behind the Poppy Appeal as the British legion does some amazing things.”
Mr Brown was at the monument, in Orpington High Street, on Sunday to inspect the fresh inscription to his son, who was 18 when he died.
Heroic James Brown was guarding a checkpoint in tumultuous Sangin, in Helmand Province, with his colleague Lance Corporal David Leslie Kirkness when they were forced to stand their ground against two men on motorbikes who were trying to blow up multiple civilians in a nearby market.
Both British soldiers died in the attack but they were praised by senior officers for preventing the bombers from detonating the device in the packed marketplace.
Mr Brown added: “I am in awe of my own son. He said to his mate ‘if I can be half the man my dad is I won’t have done badly’ but I know that what he did was unbelievable.
“I will always put his efforts well above anything I have done. It’s heroic.”
Stephen, a builder, who lives with his youngest daughter Ellie and the family dog, marked the start of this year’s poppy appeal by heaping praise on the support offered to him by the Royal British Legion.
He said: “The British Legion have been amazing and they have invited me to so many events and given me so much support.
“For the first five months after he died nothing meant anything to me. Everything that I did was just routine.
“But now I am back and whatever life I have got left I want to live it to the full and for James to be proud of me.”
Mr Brown has now raised nearly £25,000 in memory of James, for Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion through sponsored football events, concerts and by making a limited edition James Brown bracelet. His daughter, Ellie, 17, and seven friends also raised £1,400 with a sponsored walk to central London.