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Salute to the Terriers

PUBLISHED: 16:11 10 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:17 25 August 2010

PRIDE ON PARADE:March through Canterbury.

PRIDE ON PARADE:March through Canterbury.

PARENTS of a young soldier slain in Afghanistan has described the Territorial Army as an 'extended family'.

PARENTS of a young soldier slain in Afghanistan has described the Territorial Army as an 'extended family'.

Keith and Lesley Alderton, parents of 22-year-old Jake from Eltham who died in service, praised the army at the Centenary celebrations in Canterbury last Saturday.

Lance Corporal Alderton died on November 9, when his vehicle rolled off a bridge near Sangin, in Halmand Province, as reported in the Times.

Mrs Alderton said: "We've lost our son, which is the worst thing. But it's also like you've lost a whole family because being in the military is like having a second family - it's a way of life."

His father Mr Alderton said: "I know that people say sometimes that the Army don't support soldiers' families but from our point of view they couldn't have done more. They are always in touch - we still feel like a part of the family."

Mrs Alderton added: "They sent an officer round to come and help me with my bereavement. They were there on day one, when the news was first broken to us. They have helped with any administration, they've driven us around, paid for anything that needs paying for. They've been marvellous."

Lance Corporal Alderton was sent to Afghanistan in September 2007 to provide engineering training and support to the Afghan National Army.

Remembering his son, who served with 36 Engineer Regiment, based in Maidstone, Mr Alderton said: "He was the first one to volunteer for anything dangerous. He always volunteered to go on every mission - anything it was. He wouldn't have had it any other way.

"But if you can choose the way you die, that's the way he would have wanted it."

Mrs Alderton added: "From the age of ten he wanted to be a soldier, so we could never take that away from him."

Soldiers and their friends and family represented Dartford, Gravesend, Bexley and Bromley at the centenary.

Thousands of supporters flocked to the town centre to watch the parade led by the Band of The Princess of Wales's Royal Regiment, formerly saluted by Chief of Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt.

At a thanksgiving service at the cathedral after the parade, Sir Richard, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury Carolyn Parry and the Lord-Lieutenant for Kent, Allan Willett all made speeches.

Lord-Lieutenant Willetts said: "This celebration today is about people - the human factor - courage, comradeship, pride, loyalty and leadership.

"It was heart-warming to see the generations on parade today. From the youngest cadet to veterans in their 90s."

He added: "We in Kent are proud to be the frontline county and the bulwark of the defence of this nation."

elizabeth.thornton@archant.co.uk

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