Rallying round for brave Luke and his mates

Private Luke Stones
Private Luke Stones

WORRIED family of a serving soldier in Afghanistan learned he was just yards away from the bomb that killed six of his comrades.

Private Luke Stones, of 3 Yorks, was in an armoured vehicle behind the Warrior which was blown up in March.

Among those killed were his close friend Private Christopher Kershaw, 19.

He died alongside Private Daniel Wilford, 21; Corporal Jake Hartley, 20; Private Daniel Wade, 20; Private Anthony Frampton, 20; all of the 3rd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (The Dukes) and Sergeant Nigel Coupe, 33, of 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

Private Stones, 27, of Illingworth, is married to Vicky, 29, and they have four children, Alyssia, nine; Michael, eight, Jamie, five; and Lexi, three.

He is a gunner and only joined his battalion last year after fulfilling his dream of joining the British Army.

“It was something he always wanted to do. I was not going to hold him back, but of course it is hard as we have kids,” said Vicky.

News of the soldiers’ deaths shocked the nation and widespread media coverage meant children can’t be hidden from such tragedies.

Alyssia asked if a fundraising walk could be organised for children to raise funds for Help for Heroes.

Now, Vicky, 29, and Luke’s mum, Rosemarie Bush, 49, of Sowerby, are busy organising fundraising efforts to help distract them from their worries.

The first event is a zumba class and social evening at Sowerby Bridge WMC on Wednesday, at 7 pm ,when it is hoped Luke will be home on leave and able to take part in fancy dress with his football mates from Calder 76. A walk will be arranged later.

Vicky said many people wanted to actively do something to show the support for our troops.

She has not had the chance to talk fully with Luke about the tragedy of March 6.

“He was not allowed out of his vehicle and was devastated he could not help,” said Vicky.

“I don’t think he has since had the time to sit down and think about it. The Army have kept him busy.”

Rosemarie said Luke, who previously worked at JLA Ripponden, had gone to Afghanistan in February as part of an advance party ahead of the battalion.

She said she was in “pieces” when Luke said he was joining the Army but she realised it was what he wanted to do.

And she recalled a phone call from her ex-husband, Tony, to alert her of the six deaths.

“He said `have you seen the news, have you seen the news` I phoned Vicky and she was devastated,” said Rosemarie.

“Luke managed to phone her for two or three seconds and it was the longest afternoon of our lives.

“You don’t want to watch the news, but you can’t not watch it.

“When I found out Luke was safe I felt bad I was happy when some mums had the worst news they will ever have.”

Luke joined up with Private Kershaw, of Bradford, and they became friends.

He and another friend Private Ryan Mills paid a tribute on an Army website: “We first met Kershaw on Day One of basic training. He was Army mad and an encyclopaedia on all things useless. He never moaned about anything and just got on with life. Your useless knowledge on the journey up north will be missed. Take care.”

Rosemarie has since contacted Private Kershaw’s mum, Monica, and she has agreed to take part in the zumba class.

“She is a nice lady and what she is going through is unbelievable,” said Rosemarie, who will be attending Private Kerhsaw’s funeral on May 24.

Vicky last saw Luke on February 12 and is longing to comfort him over the loss of his comrades.

“I just can’t wait to see him again and I’m looking forward to doing stuff with the kids’ and going off places,” she said.

Just what Luke will make of changing from khaki to pink lycra and mini-skirt for his zumba class is yet to be known.

* Wristbands with the names of those killed will be sold on the night and further information is available at www.bmycharity.com/vickystones