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So proud of grandson

PUBLISHED: 17:20 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:15 03 July 2010

FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH: The Royal Anglians

FREEDOM OF THE BOROUGH: The Royal Anglians

Laura Bagshaw

THE grandmother of a soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan has made a heart-felt plea for people to support a visit to the town by his regiment - the Royal Anglians.

THE grandmother of a soldier killed while serving in Afghanistan has made a heart-felt plea for people to support a visit to the town by his regiment - the Royal Anglians.

Margaret Box of Martham has appealed to the people of the borough to “stand by the soldiers” when they visit Great Yarmouth to exercise their Freedom of the Borough on January 27.

Her grandson, Cpl Darren Bonner, was serving with the 1st Battalion Royal Anglian Regiment in war torn Helmand Province in June last year when he was fatally wounded after an explosion hit the convoy he was travelling in.

He was 31 years old.

Other members of Darren's family will be coming to Yarmouth for the special event, including his mother and sisters.

Mrs Box, of Grove Road, said: “I feel that Darren should be among the soldiers when they march, but he won't, so I will have to be there in his place.

“I also want to be there for the other soldiers because I'm so proud of what they have done.”

Darren was born in Ilford but spent many years living in Edmonton, north London before moving to Peterborough.

Remembering Darren as a young boy, 71-year-old Mrs Box said he was always the “joker” and “loved making people laugh.”

She said: “Darren was my first grandchild and he was such a likeable boy.

“He was a huge sports fan. Football was his passion and his team was Tottenham Hotspur. He left school at 16 and joined the Army straight away.”

Recalling the last time she saw Darren, Mrs Box remembered how he had reacted when he saw her new electric organ.

“His eyes lit up when he saw it and he pleaded with me to have a go,” she said. Mrs Box played Irving Berlin's This is the Army Mr Brown.

“The army was his life, he loved it. He watched me play the song then taught himself to play it. Since then it has always reminded me of Darren.”

Mrs Box said that Darren was proud of the work the Army was doing in Afghanistan.

“He wanted to help the people. I think the war changed him. After his death I discovered he had started reading the Bible and had been christened while he was out there. He missed his family especially his mum and sisters Keely, Claire and Danielle.”

Darren had two sons Tristan and Matthew.

Fighting back the tears, Mrs Box recalled the day she was told the devastating news her grandson had been killed in action.

“I was watching television and the phone rang. It was my daughter Christine. She was crying and could hardly speak. She said 'Mum, mum, my baby has been killed,' then she went silent.

“I thought, I'm a mum and I must be strong for my daughter. I was trying to console her on the phone while holding back the tears. I could see Darren in my mind just smiling as he always was.

“I think it's sad I never saw much of him but he was away a lot of the time.”

Darren's funeral was in Enfield and Mrs Box said while it was a “very sad” occasion for the family her “chest was bursting with pride” for Darren.

“Soldiers were lining the street for what seemed like miles. Some of his friends wore t-shirts with his nickname 'Daz' printed on them. I felt so proud of him. It was all for him.”

When Mrs Box discovered the regiment would be marching in Yarmouth she knew immediately she had to be there.

“I want people to be with them on the day and stand by them. People should be proud of the work they have done.”

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