Fitting tribute to ‘a man of courage’

Smawthorne Welfare Action Team (SWAT) has put a new memorial bench in memory of Castleford soldier Craig Hopson in Smawthorne Welfare Park.'Dayna O�"Brien, Zoe Gately and Tony Wallis with mum  Lynne Hodson and sister Adele Varley
Smawthorne Welfare Action Team (SWAT) has put a new memorial bench in memory of Castleford soldier Craig Hopson in Smawthorne Welfare Park.'Dayna O�"Brien, Zoe Gately and Tony Wallis with mum Lynne Hodson and sister Adele Varley

A bench has been installed at Smawthorne Welfare in memory of Castleford soldier Craig Hopson who was killed in Afghanistan in 2009.

Bombardier Hopson, 24, was killed when the vehicle he was travelling in was blown up by a bomb not revealed by metal detectors.

He was part of a team securing a site for a polling station in Afghanistan’s Helmand province when he was killed on July 25, 2009.

Now, six years after his death, members of Smawthorne Welfare Action Team (SWAT) have built a bench at the park in his memory.

His mum Lynn, 52, of Smawthorne Avenue, said: “The new bench is absolutely lovely. It’s a really fitting tribute. I can see it from my house and look out and think of Craig.

“The support we’ve had from people in Cas since Craig died has been really overwhelming.

“It really helps because it keeps everyone talking about Craig and that’s what we want .”

Dad-of-one Bdr Hopson, who was in the 40th Regiment Royal Artillery, was providing defensive support to a team of soldiers who were checking the site for improvised explosive devices when the blast happened.

Lynn said: “It’s never going to be right when you lose a son. We just feel like he is missing out on all of our family events and gatherings.

“But this bench is a really nice tribute to Craig and is something I can remember him by.”

The bench has been installed at the Smawthorne Avenue park.

It has a plaque on it which reads: “a man of tremendous moral courage.”

The memorial bench was two years in the planning for the SWAT team.

Zoe Gately, chairman of SWAT said: “We have been planning this bench for at least two years and it’s great it’s finally finished. We hope that it’s something for Craig’s family to remember him by.

Lynn goes to Craig’s grave at the cemetery every day and she never wants and she’ll never forget what happened but she can see the bench from her house so she can always remember him.”

he bench was funded through Wakefield Council’s Neighbourhood Improvement Fund after Castleford councillors Tony Wallis, Denise Jeffery and Richard Forster gave the support to the project.