A TRAGIC soldier from Huddersfield was killed on the day he planned to get engaged.
Ashley Uttley, 19, died after the car he was driving crashed into a Land Rover on a country road in Northamptonshire on December 10.
He was killed instantly. He was out to collect a newspaper but then planned to pick up his girlfriend, 19-year-old Kerry-Ann Richardson.
The young couple were going to choose an engagement ring before driving up to Yorkshire to tell his family the happy news.
Ashley's father Richard said his son was very much in love.
He added: "It was going to be such a happy day. He loved to surprise us and not tell us he was coming.
"That's what he planned to do again with the great news. It is just a tragedy."
Mr Uttley said his son's girlfriend was "distraught" at the loss of her future husband.
And he also revealed that Ashley - a Sapper in the Army - had his promotion confirmed, days after his death.
Mr Uttley paid tribute to Ashley, saying he was the kind of son any dad would be proud of.
He added: "He was a man's man but at the same time he was a loving son.
"Whenever he came home from the Army he would give me a hug and wasn't bothered if his Army friends were there.
"He was his own man."
Ashley, who has a brother Kyle, 15, was a former pupil at Shelley High School.
He joined the Army as a sapper in the 48 Squadron 39 Engineer Regiment (Air Support) - a dream job.
His dad, who now lives in Barnsley but works for Schwarz on Northumberland Street, Huddersfield, said: "When I looked back through his school and college appraisals all he wanted to do was join the Army.
"He wanted to join earlier but when he was finally accepted into the Army he was over the moon."
Ashley, who represented England at American football, was also due to go to Afghanistan after Christmas.
His father said: "We had heard that he may also be getting a promotion but the letter confirming this only arrived after he had died.
"He absolutely loved his job."
Mr Uttley said Ashley's funeral service at Grenoside crematorium in Sheffield on Tuesday was packed.
He added: "The crematorium seats 140 people and there weren't enough seats - people had to stand up around the walls.
"He had so many friends. He was a great laugh. Ashley was a total fun person and everybody said he cheered them up when they were miserable."
Mr Uttley admitted Christmas this year would be difficult.
He added: "Ashley could make Christmas.
"Every year he used to come home and he and my partner Tracey would decorate the tree together.
"That will be hard this year but some of his friends are going to come around and help.
"He was a great boy who turned into a wonderful man and all his family and friends are going to miss him."