Military fun in honour of paratrooper Lewis Hendry
Comrades of fallen Dereham paratrooper Lewis Hendry joined the young soldier's family this weekend to continue the massive fundraising effort launched in his memory.
Troops from Colchester-based 3PARA organised some military-themed fun at the Tesco supermarket off Yaxham Road, where Pte Hendry's mother Katrina and sister Stacey both work.
Attractions included an inflatable obstacle course, paint-balling and an appearance by the Parachute Regiment's mascot – a Shetland pony.
Inside the store, Katrina and Stacey's workmates paid �1 each to wear camouflaged clothes as they encouraged donations and tombola entries from shoppers, with prizes donated by many local businesses.
Thousands of pounds have already been collected for the Afghanistan Trust since 20-year-old Pte Hendry was killed in action in February.
And his family said they continued to be touched by the support and generosity they had received as they tried to boost the fund, which helps wounded Parachute Regiment soldiers and the families of those killed in combat.
Katrina Hendry, who was at the event with husband Kelvin, daughter Stacey and son Jamie, said: 'The contribution made by everyone in Dereham is really overwhelming – there's no other word.
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'We need to thank everybody who has helped, and nearly every shop in Dereham has donated prizes.
'The support from my colleagues has been fantastic. They have all been there for me and in the mornings. They have hugged me and cried with me. I love my job but, without them, I just could not have come to work.'
Katrina works in the flowers department at the store, while 19-year-old Stacey works in the phone shop.
The idea at the Dereham supermarket also inspired another 20 branches across East Anglia to join the fundraising effort.
Store manager Ivor Hunter said: 'Everybody here feels it is important to help our colleagues. People are certainly not doing this for Tesco, they are doing it for Katrina and Stacey. There about 400 people working here and I don't think any of them have not helped in some way.'
On Saturday, 3PARA representatives were also presented with a �2,000 cheque for the Afghanistan Trust following a charity night at the Lounge bar on Norwich Street, where Pte Hendry had been a regular customer and used to work as a glass collector.
Manager Laura Chapman said the venue was proud to have helped the charity and had also created a new drink in the soldier's memory, named 'The World's Greatest' – a concoction of sambuca, cherry sours and lemonade.
Pte Hendry's funeral last month drew a crowd of about 2,000 people who packed Dereham's Market Place and Church Street to pay their respects. His battalion are due to return to Britain at the end of May.
Capt Zac Leong, of 3PARA, said: 'It is great to be here supporting the family and the Afghanistan Trust. The amount of money raised already has been amazing and will go a long way to helping our casualties and our bereaved families from this tour.
'The level of support that has been received in Dereham is something I have not experienced before in any town. For such a small town, it really has been astonishing.'
?Donations to the fund can be made by visiting www.afghanistantrust.org.