There were tears and laughter as the Meltham community came together to remember one of its fallen heroes.
One year after the tragic death of Private Tom Wroe, family, friends, the Mayor of Kirklees Clr Martyn Bolt, town and parish councillors, MP Jason McCartney and the wider community came together to remember the 18-year-old soldier.
A military parade from the Carlile Institute was followed by a memorial service at St Bartholomew’s Church.
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Private Wroe and his comrade, Sergeant Gareth Thursby, 29, were gunned down by a rogue Afghan policeman on September 15 last year.
The inquest at Oxford Coroner’s Court earlier this month heard that both men died of multiple gunshot wounds after a member of the Afghan Local Police opened fire on them at a checkpoint in Helmand Province.
There was standing room only as family and friends spoke of good times with Pte Wroe, who was well known for ‘kicking his shoes off at the door and making himself at home” – wherever he was.
His sister Demi, herself a young cadet, summed up her big brother saying: “Once a hero, always a hero”.
Mum Claire Wroe said she had “18 years of memories” of her beloved son.
And dad Mick Wroe said they “couldn’t ask for a better son or brother for Demi.”
And every time the bells of St Bartholomew’s Church chime people can think of the fallen soldier – for a donation was made to the church from fundraisers in Pte Wroe’s memory. It will go towards the clock tower.
Mrs Wroe told the congregation: “I have 18 years of memories to think about and how special they are now.
“Today, I wear your medals with pride. I know how much you wanted your medals and now I wear them for you, my son.”
She gave thanks to others too, saying: “A massive thank you for the Meltham community for the outstanding warmth you have shown our Tom and the support you have given us.”
She spoke of the family’s ongoing pride in Pte Wroe’s achievements.
Demi, who hopes to become a medic, described hearing the tragic news of her brother’s death. And despite the sorrow, she brought laughs among the congregation as she remembered fun times with her big brother.
“Sleep tight Tom. We’ll meet again later, bro,” she said.
Dad Mick, who served in the army for 22 years, gave the family’s thanks to the soldiers of 1 Yorks, the Yorkshire Regiment, who were with Pte Wroe on the day he died and “all you did for him.”
The service, led by the Rev Maureen Read, included a bible reading by Clr Terry Lyons in his role as Mayor of Meltham.
School friends of Pte Wroe spoke of their memories, which included sliding down the aisles of Morrisons on trolleys, football pitch fun and school days cheekiness.
The service ended outside and, as the rain fell and the wind blew, the community rallied around to watch a memorial plaque unveiled by Demi.
She stepped forward confidently and with pride to unveil the plaque as the Last Post played.
A minute’s silence was followed by the National Anthem and the welcome of pie and peas at the town’s Liberal Club.
The final inscription on the order of service summed up the day: “Private Tom Wroe, may you rest in peace and rise in glory.”