Memorial service for soldier's birthday

A MEMORIAL service is to be held to mark the birthday of a Suffolk born soldier who was killed in Iraq.The grieving mother of Sharron Elliott is organising the service to mark her daughter's 35th birthday.

A MEMORIAL service is to be held to mark the birthday of a Suffolk born soldier who was killed in Iraq.

The grieving mother of Sharron Elliott is organising the service to mark her daughter's 35th birthday.

Staff Sgt Elliott, who grew up and went to school in Hadleigh was on her first tour of duty after defying medical experts who said she would never be fit again after badly breaking her leg.

She was one of four servicemen killed when a bomb exploded near their boat on the Shatt al Arab waterway in Basra City on Remembrance Sunday.

The blast also claimed the lives of warrant officer Lee Hopkins, 35, and two Royal Marines, Jason Hylton, 33, and 27-year-old corporal Ben Nowak.

Now her mother Elsie Manning is helping to organise the service on Friday.

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She said: “My daughter was killed on the Basra boat and we are holding a memorial for her, which is open to anyone to attend.

“She would have been 35-years-old on Friday and doing it for her birthday is important for me and her family, it's a positive thing for us to focus on and a chance to celebrate her life.

“I know people in Hadleigh wanted to have a memorial for her, she grew up in the area and had lots of friends locally.

“Everybody has been so supportive, absolutely fantastic, we have had letters, cards, telephone calls, and people visiting.

“The Army keep in touch too, which has been fantastic. I have immense pride in her, she was not just my daughter, but my best friend as well.”

Staff Sgt Elliott joined the Army at the age of 18 as an aircraft technician, before transferring to the Intelligence Corps. She had been in Iraq for just over a week after being deployed there from Cyprus.

Before Staff Sgt Elliott the only woman to die in action during the campaign was Flt Lt Sarah Jayne Mulvihill, 32, whose helicopter was shot down over Basra.

n Sharron Elliott's memorial service, which will also be attended by representatives form the military, will be held from 3pm on Friday at St Mary's church in Hadleigh.

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