Hobby to honour fallen heroes
IT started in the barracks of Londonderry, and developed as a hobby for a Great Yarmouth soldier as he served in Iraq and Afghanistan.But David Chandler's talent for making latchook rugs, first sewn as a form of relaxation from the stress of army life, soon turned into something else.
IT started in the barracks of Londonderry, and developed as a hobby for a Great Yarmouth soldier as he served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But David Chandler's talent for making latchook rugs, first sewn as a form of relaxation from the stress of army life, soon turned into something else.
And now the 40-year-old has used his skills to honour soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment who have died while on tour in Afghanistan.
Mr Chandler presented a hand-woven rug to each of the families of the 16 killed, with each one depicting the name of the fallen soldier, last Wednesday
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The tribute took place in an officers' mess at the army compounds in Pirbright on a day in which the families were also awarded the Elizabeth Cross, given to the relatives of those killed during service.
David said: “After the presentation I told the families that I had something to show them in the corporals' mess, and when they saw the framed rugs lying there I could hear them gasping.
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“It was an emotional moment for all of us, and one of the mothers looked at me with tears in her eyes while another ran back and gave me a big hug - all of them were quite taken aback.”
The highly-charged moment was the culmination of months of hard work for Mr Chandler and his partner, Christine Hodgson.
Mr Chandler recalled the moment he saw a colleague creating a Mickey Mouse rug while serving in Ireland 10 years ago, and the way he “just instantly relaxed” when he decided to take it up himself.
Having left the Royal Anglians after 23 years of service in April as a corporal, and created more than 40 rugs, he was able to fully concentrate on his idea.
“I remember just thinking what about the fallen? They have a memorial but I wanted to do my bit. Me and Christine were chatting away about it, and the first I did was for Darren Bonner, who I knew well, in April.”
Working alongside his partner, he has spent around �1800 and a huge amount of hours on the 16 rugs, which are a metre long and half a metre wide, and will be hung from the wall of the Corporals' Mess in Pirbright.
Christine Bonner, mother of Cpl Darren Bonner who was killed by a roadside bomb three years ago, said: “When we saw the rug that day me and my family were absolutely gobsmacked.
“This guy has been so dedicated making such beautiful rugs, and it was fantastic to see it, and very emotional.”