Suffolk soldier's father breaks silence

RELATIVES of a Suffolk woman killed in the Iraq war have today spoken publicly for the first time.

RELATIVES of a Suffolk woman killed in the Iraq war have today spoken publicly for the first time.

Ted Elliott, father of staff sergeant Sharron Elliott, has paid tribute to his “brave and courageous” daughter in an exclusive interview with The Evening Star.

S/Sgt Elliott hit the national headlines in November last year when she was killed during a bomb attack while serving in Iraq.

Mr Elliott, and his wife Ann, said they are still experiencing a deep sense of loss after the sudden death of the 34-year-old.

But on the day her former school Hadleigh High School created a memorial in her honour, the family have broken their silence.

Mr Elliott, 67, of Clopton Gardens, Hadleigh, said: “She was very brave and courageous and never moaned even though she was in dangerous situations.

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“Half of me still doesn't believe she's gone. I miss her terribly and just hope she didn't feel anything.

“She loved her job and the people she served with and she loved her time at Hadleigh High School. They gave her the confidence she needed.

“I was absolutely delighted when the school told me what they were going to do and was amazed at their kindness.

“People have been so marvellous since it happened.

“I hope this will mean her spirit lives on.”

S/Sgt Elliott had only been in Iraq for a week when she was killed in Basra. She was the second British servicewoman to die in the conflict

The school has now created a Sharron Elliott Memorial Award for Determination in Physical Education, which will be presented to a student who has shown strength of character in sport. It will be awarded for the first time on Friday

S/Sgt Elliott's stepmother, Ann, 69, said: “I remember when she broke her leg when she was skiing in the army and she was terrified she would have to leave.

“She was so determined that she would get back into active service so she worked so, so hard to get better.

“And she also loved sports when she was at school so we thought this award would be a great way to remember her.”

Mrs Elliott said she had been unhappy about the Iraq war from its beginning, but said her stepdaughter had always insisted she needed to do her job whatever the circumstances and was willing to be posted to any location.

Mr Elliott said he was overwhelmed by the kindness of the youngsters who raised money and set up the special award.

He said: “I'm extremely proud and it's wonderful to think she wasn't forgotten.”

SHARRON Elliott lived in Hadleigh until 1998 and attended the town's primary and secondary schools.

She joined the army when she was 18 and spent her early career in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.

She became the first female in the army to qualify as an aircraft technician.

She transferred to the Intelligence Corps and served in the United Kingdom, Germany and Belize, as well as completing a number of operational tours including service in Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq.

Her death came on Remembrance Sunday when a bomb exploded near the boat she was in with three colleagues in the Shatt Al-Arab waterway.

She had been only been in Iraq for one week when she became the second British servicewoman to die in the conflict.

She had four step-brothers, two still serving in the army.

HADLEIGH High School year 11 pupils Terrence Marriott, 16, Sean Talman, 15, and Carla Batram, 15, decided to dedicate an award to Sharron Elliott after learning about her death.

The trio raised £200 thanks to a business enterprise project to create a leavers book and they came up with the idea of using that money to remember S/Sgt Elliott.

Terrence said: “We wanted to do something that really meant something to people.

“My brother's in Iraq at the moment so it really brought home her death for me.

“There are a lot of people at the school who have family in the army and she went to this school so it struck a cord with lots of us.”

Headteacher Cathy Tooze, said: “I'm really proud of them for what they've done totally on their own.

“Hopefully Sharron will be remembered here now for many years to come.

“Staff who worked here when she was a pupil think of her as a very determined girl so the tribute is very fitting.”

Trevor Brigden, head of PE, said: “It is for someone who has shown great determination throughout PE, nothing to do with being at the top level.

“It's to do with perseverance and the will to succeed.

“It mirrors Sharron's achievement in life and hopefully it will inspire the youngsters who are at the school now.”

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