Family’s heartfelt thanks on the first anniversary of the death of Dereham paratrooper Lewis Hendry

The mother of Dereham soldier Lewis Hendry has thanked local people for their 'amazing' support as the family marked the first anniversary of his death.

Pte Hendry was killed on February 9 last year while serving with the Parachute Regiment in Afghanistan.

This week a headstone has been put on his grave at Dereham Cemetery and a group of his best mates from the Colchester-based 3PARA came to the town to join Lewis' relatives in remembering him.

On Saturday evening family and friends will be gathering in the Bull in Dereham as it would have been his 22nd birthday.

His mum Katrina said: 'We did that last year as it would have been Lewis' 21st birthday just after he died and we have decided to do it again for his birthday this year.'

Lewis' sister Stacey has designed special wristbands which say 'In loving memory of Lewis Hendry 12/2/90-9/2/11' and have a poppy on them.

They will be on sale in The Bull on Saturday evening and are also available at Tesco in Dereham and Dereham News in the Market Place.

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They cost �2 but people are able to donate more money if they want to.

All proceeds are going to the Afghan Trust and about �27,000 has already been collected for the fund in memory of Lewis.

Almost �13,500 was raised from a fund raising day at the Dereham Tesco store and other of the company's stores last April. Tesco put in an extra �3000.

Mrs Hendry said: 'The support from the whole town has been amazing and we are so grateful.'

She added: 'People in Dereham have been lovely and the Army has been really supportive.'

Lewis's family has put a moving message in an in memoriam announcement in today's Times.

It says: 'We see life as a puzzle. We all have our own piece which when combined makes the perfect picture. But one year ago Lewis took his piece with him, Now our picture will never be complete.'

Lewis - who was a former pupil of Dereham St Nicholas Junior School and Dereham Northgate High - died during a gun battle in the north of the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand Province.

An estimated 2000 people packed in to Dereham town centre to pay their respects on the day of his funeral.

Lewis' 22-year-old comrade Pte Conrad Lewis, from Bournemouth – a member of the Fire Support Group attached to Pte Hendry's company – died alongside him during his final mission.

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