A British soldier who died in hospital in the UK after being shot in Afghanistan last month was remembered today as a fun-loving soldier with the "heart of a lion".
Kingsman Darren Deady, 22, from Bolton, Lancashire, suffered a gunshot wound in the Nahr-e Saraj District of Helmand Province on August 23.
The soldier, from 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, part of Combined Force Nahr-e Saraj (South), died at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, on Friday.
The number of British losses since the conflict in Afghanistan began in 2001 now stands at 335.
Born into a large Lancastrian family, Kingsman Deady joined the Army in October 2008 after leaving school at 16.
On the day he was wounded, he and his comrades were protecting a "vital location" when they came under fire, according to the MoD.
His friends gave him first aid and he was evacuated to hospital at Camp Bastion before being flown to Birmingham.
Kingsman Deady's family, who were at his bedside when he died, thanked medics and others for their support through "these difficult times".
"We lost a wonderful son, brother, uncle, grandson and friend; he is going to be missed by all," they said in a statement. "At this moment we are experiencing the hardest times of our life.
"Darren was proud to do a job that he loved and most of all believed in, his little brother once turned round to him and asked him: why do you fight? and Darren simply replied; 'To make a difference'.
"The Army and hospital staff have been amazing and really have looked after us and supported us, nothing was ever too much trouble for them and we are eternally grateful to all involved.
"The other families we have met through this journey have been a tower of strength and we wish them all the best. There is only one thing left to say now: 'Please Don't Forget Him'."
Lieutenant Colonel Robbie Boyd, Commanding Officer 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, "Lions of England" said: "Kingsman Darren Deady was a tiny man with the heart of a Lion.
"His irrepressible and infectious sense of humour made this small man a huge character within Arnhem Company, where his courage and selflessness will always be remembered.
"He was always the first to volunteer for everything, to carry the heaviest load or to be first in the patrol to clear a path for his mates.
"He loved his job and his Regiment, he loved serving with his fellow Lions in Arnhem Company.
"This was his second deployment in the face of the enemy and he fought again with the courage and heart of a Lion."
Kingsman Deady also impressed Major Paul Tingey, Officer Commanding Arnhem Company, 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, who said: "He was a superb soldier; trusted, respected and an example to others.
"He was a small man with a huge personality."
Lieutenant Mark Hayward, 3 Platoon Commander, Arnhem Company, said the soldier "stood out" when he first met him.
"Sat there looking back was Kingsman Deady with his trademark cheeky grin," he said. "This was a grin I am happy to say was one I would see many times in the future.
"His optimistic outlook and ability to provide morale to those around no matter the situation is something I will always admire."
His popularity and sense of humour was remembered by comrades including Sergeant Lea Wilkinson, 1 Platoon Sergeant, Arnhem Company. "The energy and morale which he produced was infectious, making being in Afghanistan that much more bearable," he said. "Darren was a cheeky lad who often managed to make me laugh even when he was in trouble."
Kingsman Dean Smith said: "Deady was one of the best lads I've ever met.
"He was always having a laugh and always had a smile on his face. I will always remember him."
Kingsman James Kirner said: "I can't believe he's gone, he was the morale of the Platoon. We're going to miss you so much."
Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox said: "He was an able and dedicated soldier, who displayed strength, courage and leadership.
"It's clear to me that he made a very big impression on his fellow soldiers and that he is going to be sorely missed by all who knew him.
"My deepest sympathies are with family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time."Reuse content