Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Foundation plan in soldier's name

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A two-minute silence was observed at 11.00 GMT in public places across Wales

The parents of the 200th UK soldier killed fighting in Afghanistan are setting up a foundation in his memory.

Richard Hunt, 21, who lived near Abergavenny in Monmouthshire, died in hospital in August, two days after an explosion in Helmand province.

Twelve soldiers from Wales have died in the conflicts this year.

The announcement came on the day silent tributes were held in public places across Wales to remember those who had died in wars.

The head of the Army in Wales paid tribute to those killed fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Brig Russ Wardle said the wars would make Armistice Day "all the more real and tangible" for those serving in the armed forces, and the Army had a duty to care for those left injured or bereaved because of the conflict.

Pte Richard Hunt
Pte Richard Hunt died after an explosion in Helmand province

Pte Hunt's parents Hazel and Philip plan to launch the Richard Hunt Foundation at the end of the month, to work with other charities to help and support injured Welsh soldiers and those who have served in Welsh regiments.

They plan to finish converting a barn on their farm - which was to be a home for their son - for use as an outdoor activity centre that disabled soldiers can visit.

The family and their friends have already raised £10,000 for Army charities.

Mrs Hunt said: "It's like a smaller version of Help for Heroes based here in Wales. It's to help individual soldiers and their families on a smaller scale.

"A lot of the lads who join the Army don't come from rich backgrounds and when they come back either terribly injured or with psychological injuries, quite often they're left floundering not knowing where to go or how to get help.

"We aim to perhaps help individual soldiers in the way of providing something as simple as a ramp up to the front door for wheelchair access or even just a few days away with the family at the seaside away from the stresses and strains of ordinary life once they get back home."

This year, 96 UK armed forces members have died in Iraq and Afghanistan - 12 of whom were from Wales.

Swansea tributes to war dead
Tributes were held in towns and cities across Wales

On Tuesday, the body of the latest Welsh casualty, Cpl Nicholas Webster-Smith, 24, originally from Pembrokeshire, was flown back to the UK after he was shot along with four other servicemen by a "rogue" Afghan policeman.

Hearses carrying their coffins and of another soldier passed along the high street in Wootton Bassett, Wiltshire, after they were flown into RAF Lyneham nearby.

Brig Wardle said Armistice Day was always "particularly significant" to members of the armed forces.

"The past week has, sadly, once again reminded us of the risks and sacrifices made by British and international servicemen and women in Afghanistan, in particular," he said.

"And for those of us serving in Welsh units we cannot help but reflect that this year every Welsh unit will have been deployed in Afghanistan."

Since 2001, 411 members of the armed forces have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, with 27 from Wales.

But this year has been the bloodiest yet in Afghanistan and the UN has described the security situation as the worst since 2001.

Brig Wardle said that, despite this, he believed morale was high among those fighting the wars.

Remembrance concert

Public support for this year's Armistice Day is higher than ever, according to the Royal British Legion.

Claire Williams, a field officer for the legion in Wales, said media coverage and publicity generated by the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq could be behind a "large rise" in the number of people who have bought remembrance poppies .

"We've seen a growing number of casualties in Afghanistan which is making people think about it more," she said.

"In the past people used to think about the First and Second World Wars. But what's going on at the moment in Iraq and Afghanistan is very much on people's minds."

Across Wales, services and two-minute silences were held at 1100 GMT.

First Minister Rhodri Morgan joined other political leaders and the Queen for the Armistice service at Westminster Abbey.

He said: "The bravery and sacrifice of those who fought and lost their lives maintaining peace and upholding democracy must never be forgotten."

The Royal British Legion was also staging a remembrance concert in Castle Square, Swansea, which included singer Bonnie Tyler and musical acts Blake and Wendy Kupinski, along with compère Mal Pope.



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