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Memorial service held for Bury St Edmunds airman Luke Southgate who was killed in Afghanistan





A ‘moving’ memorial service was held today in a Suffolk town to remember an airman killed in Afghanistan on the anniversary of his death more than a decade ago.

Senior Aircraftman Luke Southgate, from Bury St Edmunds, was killed when his vehicle, which was patrolling the Kandahar Airfield, was struck by an improvised explosive device on February 24, 2010.

Luke’s family and friends, members of the Royal British Legion, veterans from RAF Honington and more, gathered at his memorial garden at St Olaves Precinct on the Howard Estate to remember and reflect on all those who have lost their lives during conflict.

A memorial service was held for Luke Southgate, who died aged 20 in Afghanistan. Picture: Cameron Reid
A memorial service was held for Luke Southgate, who died aged 20 in Afghanistan. Picture: Cameron Reid

The young airman had been in Afghanistan for five weeks and was two weeks away from his 21st birthday before his death.

Luke's mum Kate Southgate said: “I am very proud but very sad. I still feel the same sort of emotions each year, but you learn to live and deal with it.

"I loved his sarcasm and wit. He was a wind-up and knew how to wind me up and I’d bite every time. His brothers and sisters still do that as well, so it must be something in the family.

Luke was a former pupil at County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds before he became a Senior Aircraftman
Luke was a former pupil at County Upper School in Bury St Edmunds before he became a Senior Aircraftman

"He was a hard worker and had brilliant dedication, from when he was like 13, he knew what he wanted to do and got on with it.

“I’m quite strong I suppose, having the other children I’ve had to be, and you just have to carry on. It’s absolutely amazing that everyone pulls together for this, I’m honestly so grateful.”

There was a two minute silence and wreaths were laid in front of the plinth as representatives from the RBL, RAF Honington and local dignitaries paid their respects.

Luke's mum, Kate Southgate, was in attendance at the service on the Howard Estate. Picture: Cameron Reid
Luke's mum, Kate Southgate, was in attendance at the service on the Howard Estate. Picture: Cameron Reid

Nigel Wolstenholme, chairman of the Bury St Edmunds branch of the Royal British Legion, said: “It was a moving service and I think it is absolutely vital in all honesty.

“People that are prepared to put themselves between us and danger is such an important and precious thing and it was nice to see a good turnout too.

“I do feel mixed emotions about today, but I feel particularly proud that we can be involved and ensure that people that make those sacrifices are remembered.”

Luke was on patrol when his vehicle suffered the impact of an improvised explosive device. Picture: Cameron Reid
Luke was on patrol when his vehicle suffered the impact of an improvised explosive device. Picture: Cameron Reid

Vice chairman Bernie Millard added: “It’s a special service, because it's one of our own and it is a tribute to Luke that so many are here today.

“I think it's vitally important that we do services like this, and when these sort of things need to be done, that we’re actually able to do them.”