Brave soldier killed in Afghanistan to be remembered at memorial rugby match
PUBLISHED: 16:58 08 January 2020 | UPDATED: 16:58 08 January 2020
His tragic death had a profound effect on a devastated community - and now, 10 years on, friends and family are to poignantly honour a much-loved soldier killed in Afghanistan.
Private Robert Hayes, from Burwell, was described by those who knew him best as someone "full of life and energy" who was given the nickname "110%" - because he would always go above and beyond.
So his death when he was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) while serving in Helmand Province in 2010 aged just 19, with a bright future ahead of him, was all the more devastating.
But, never to be forgotten, Newmarket Rugby Club - where Pte Hayes was a popular and talented player - is now organising a memorial match to mark a decade since his death.
The event at the club in Elizabeth Avenue, Newmarket on Sunday, January 12 will start with a minute's silence before the game at 1pm, followed by a gathering of Pte Hayes' closest friends and family afterwards.
Harvey Bell, Newmarket Rugby Club chairman - who played with Pte Hayes - remembered how the club organised coaches for players to attend the soldier's repatriation at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire.
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"It showed that he had a profound effect on a lot of the guys," said Mr Bell.
"His funeral was in Burwell and it brought a lot of people together from different parts of Rob's life.
"He was 19 and it tragic to happen to someone who was so full of life and energy.
"One of his nicknames was '110%' - that's the sort of guy he was."
Mr Bell said there had been a great response by the community to the memorial match so far, with money also being collected for the Royal Anglian Regiment Benevolent Charity.
Pte Hayes had joined on a patrol mission to identify insurgent firing positions in the Nad-e-Ali district of Helmand Province in 2010.
An inquest heard how he had fired a javelin missile into a tower, killing insurgents - but was hit by the IED while sweeping for mines in a 'battle damage assessment' of the building afterwards.
He was described by his colleagues as a "hugely professional and talented soldier".