A South Tyneside soldier killed during a tour of duty 21 years ago is set to be remembered with a tribute held in his memory.
Lauren McLeish was only six-months old when her father Lance Corporal Christoper McLeish, of the Royal Engineers, lost his life in a fire at his base while service in Bosnia.
He was 24-years-old.
Tragically, less than five years later, her mum Gillian, 25, took her own life and Lauren was taken in by her gran Theresa Young.
Throughout her life, Lauren, who works part-time at DFS, has been supported by the Soldier, Sailor, Airmen and Family Association (SSAFA).
Now, as she prepares to mark the 21st anniversary of her dad’s death, she is hoping a night held in his memory which will raise much-needed funds for the charity.
It’s lovely that so many of the soldiers who served with my dad will be making the trip from all over the world to come to the night.Lauren McLeish
More than hundreds former soldiers who served alongside her dad are set to make the journey to South Shields to take part in what she is calling a celebration of his life.
The 21-year-old, from Whiteleas, said: “The charity night was something I wanted to do, but I wanted to wait until it was a special anniversary.
“For me, I just thought what better way to celebrate his life than to raise money for the army charity SSAFA. The charity has helped me so much throughout my life, I wanted to give something back.”
The night will take place at the Hedworth Hall in Dean Road, South Shields on March 18 and will feature a three course meal, magician, comedian and band.
“I have no memories of my dad and I have always asked questions about him. As I got older, I was able to be told more and more information about what happened.
“I lost my mam when I was five and as a child I suffered from anxiety. But the charity has supported me throughout.
“It’s lovely that so many of the soldiers who served with my dad will be making the trip from all over the world to come to the night.
“I’m a bit overwhelmed by it all, I never imagined such a positive response - it’s quite an emotional time.
“It’s something I really wanted to do for my dad’s memory and with the support of my family, they are helping to make it happen.”
The family was awarded The Elizabeth Cross after hius death, which is a commemorative emblem given to the recognised next of kin of members of the British Armed Forces killed in action or as a result of a terrorist attack after the Second World War.
SSAFA supports the Armed Forces (both Regular and Reserves), veterans and their families. For more information on the charity visit www.ssafa.org.uk
Tickets, priced £21.43, are still available for the night by visiting www.thechrismcleishfundraiser.eventbrite.co.uk