Spen soldier wounded in bomb blast

IN THE ARMY NOW: Matthew Light with mum Sharon, dad Robert and sisters Jessica and Rebekah at his passing out parade.
IN THE ARMY NOW: Matthew Light with mum Sharon, dad Robert and sisters Jessica and Rebekah at his passing out parade.
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THE soldier son of a Birkenshaw councillor has been seriously injured in Afghanistan in a bomb blast which claimed the life of his friend.

Pte Matthew Light, 19, whose father is Kirklees councillor and Tory leader Robert Light, was leading a foot patrol in Helmand Province on Friday when he was caught in an explosion with Pte John King, a close friend.

Matthew suffered shrapnel wounds to his legs and was left deaf in his left ear. Tragically Pte King, also 19, died at the scene despite the efforts of medics.

Matthew was rushed to the army hospital at Camp Bastion for emergency leg surgery.

Coun Light said army officials came to his house in Birkenshaw to break the news after Matthew had come out of surgery, at about 5pm on Friday.

He said he struggled to describe the emotions he felt on seeing them arrive: “I was outside and they said, ‘you need to come inside and sit down’. You immediately think the worst. It’s not something I would wish on anyone. I can’t explain what was going through my head.

“Then they said it wasn’t as bad as it could be, and there was a relief. But afterwards you almost feel guilty for feeling relief because you know another family’s son isn’t coming home.

“The whole thing only took a couple of minutes, but it seemed like 10 hours.”

Coun Light said he, wife Sharon and Matthew’s sisters Jessica and Rebekah had been touched by the support from friends, family and other councillors.

He said Matthew, a former East Bierley First and Birkenshaw Middle school pupil, was on his first tour of Afghanistan, having passed out from the Army Foundation College in 2009.

He said his son and Pte King had become friends on joining the First Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment, and had gone to Afghanistan together. He said Matthew was very shocked and upset by what had happened to his friend.

He said: “It’s been a devastating loss for the whole company. We have spoken to Matthew every day. He is bearing up with the physical injuries but it obviously affects you psychologically too.

“He has a number of injuries to his legs and it will take a number of months before he is fully recovered.

“As a family we will do our best to support him and get him back to health.” Matthew will be flown to the army hospital in Birmingham for assessment and hopefully return home for treatment. He is expected to make a full recovery.

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