FRIENDS and family of Private Conrad Lewis, the Bournemouth-born soldier killed in Afghanistan in 2011, are hoping a new song written in his memory will make a difference for other bereaved families.
Soldier On is based on verses written in tribute to Pte Lewis by Chris Onslow, who is friends with his dad Tony, and performed by singer-songwriter Andrew James and the band The Big Secret Sound.
All profits raised will support the trust set up by the family of the 22-year-old soldier – named 353 as he was the 353rd UK soldier killed in Afghanistan – which distributes money to a range of forces charities.
Mr Onslow, who lives in Warwickshire, said: “Everyone came round my house for the funeral back in 2011, and I said to Tony that it was the last time I wanted to see 30 people dressed all in black around my home.
“Rather than just saying ‘sorry for your loss’ I wanted to do a bit more, so I wrote a song telling a story about losing a loved one, and how they remain in your life when they are gone, but I never expected it to take off like this.
“To date 447 armed forces personnel have lost their lives in combat in Afghanistan.
“We wanted to take Conrad’s loss and use it to give something back to the families of those 447 people.
Pte Lewis, a Territorial Army soldier on a full-time placement with 3 Parachute Regiment, was shot by an Afghan sniper in Helmand Province on February 9, 2011, while performing his duties as a lead scout, alongside 20-year-old Private Lewis Hendry.
He was born in Bournemouth, but brought up in Warwickshire and Oxfordshire. A keen sportsman, he played football semi-professionally for Racing Club Warwick, and was also a club swimmer, biathlon champion and county sprinter.
At the time of his death his commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel James Coates, said: “He was supremely popular and faced danger time and again, but always put his comrades first.”
To download a copy of Soldier On from iTunes visit https://t.co/rUixSKNXr0 or visit thebigsecretsound.co.uk Visit The Big Secret Sound on Facebook, or 353.org.uk for more information.