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By Harriet Ernstsons Thursday 08 November 2012 Updated: 12/11 10:34
A REDDITCH hero who died serving his country will be forever remembered thanks to a plaque on the town's war memorial.
Ahead of this Sunday's Remembrance parade (November 11), the tribute to Lance Corporal Dale Hopkins has been unveiled on the Church Green site, just yards from St Stephen's Church which was filled with hundreds of people for his funeral in 2009.
The paratrooper was just 23 when he was killed by an explosion in Afghanistan while undertaking a routine security patrol alongside Afghan National Security Forces to the north of Lashkar Gah.
His family and friends packed out the church while hundreds more stood outside to pay their respects to the fallen soldier, the only Redditch serviceman to have died in the conflict.
His mother Sue Featherstone told the Standard the family were 'very proud' to see the plaque installed.
"We are still missing him like it was yesterday and both his family and friends here and friends in the army get together to remember him for his birthday every year. He was such a very nice guy as a friend, an uncle and a son," she said.
"We cannot say thank you enough to the people of Redditch. I do think because he was a local lad they have been very supportive.
"It means a lot to us because he served his country and the town so we are proud the plaque is there now."
Since Dale's death, his family and friends have held annual events to fund-raise for the Afghanistan Trust, which supports Parachute Regiment soldiers and the families of those who have been wounded or killed in the war.
More than £30,000 has been raised in his memory through events including a sponsored skydive and family fun days.
Redditch Borough Council, which installed the plaque on the family's request, is asking anyone else who has lost loved ones from the borough in any war since the Second World War, to come forward if they too would like a tribute on the war memorial.
Deputy Mayor Wanda King said: "I think new plaques on the memorial outside St Stephen's are an excellent way to remember people from the borough who have fought for and lost their lives for Queen and country.
"Remembrance Day is a particularly poignant time of the year and I believe the more brave local servicemen and women we pay our respects to, the better. I would urge any families who have lost loved ones in this way to come forward and get a plaque so that as a town we can pay tribute to their sacrifice."
Families or friends of those who have lost their lives to war can contact Redditch Borough Council's bereavement services on 01527 62174 for more information or speak to their ward councillor.
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