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Mother of Victoria Cross hero speaks of her pride

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

The mother of a British soldier, posthumously awarded a Victoria Cross for his actions in Afghanistan, has spoken of her pride for her son.

Lance Corporal James Ashworth, from the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, died under enemy fire as he tried to eliminate an insurgent position in Afghanistan on 13 June 2012.

Lance Corporal Ashworth’s mother, Kerry Ashworth, was accompanied by his father, Duane, and his younger brother, 22-year-old serving soldier Corporal Coran Ashworth, to receive Lance Corporal Ashworth’s Victoria Cross (VC) from Her Majesty The Queen at the private ceremony in Buckingham Palace.

Following the ceremony, Kerry Ashworth said:

There are no words that can describe how you feel when you are told that your son is the bravest of the brave.

The family of Lance Corporal James Ashworth
The family of Lance Corporal James Ashworth: Kerry Ashworth (front), Duane Ashworth (left) and Coran Ashworth (right) (library image) [Picture: Ben Birchall/Press Association Images]

Mrs Ashworth said that she had been overcome by emotion after the Queen had left the room and ‘tears just came’:

I thought it was such an honour for us today as a family, for his friends and for his girlfriend,” she said. “For us to receive this is a recognition of the really hard job that he did over there.

James has gone but he will never be forgotten, he is part of the regimental history, he is part of history. He will never, ever be forgotten and his memory will go on forever.

Lance Corporal Ashworth and his platoon engaged an insurgent sniper team last June in Helmand province. He led the advance using grenades, then crawled through an outbuilding under enemy fire, but was hit as he prepared to throw his last grenade.

Lance Corporal James Ashworth
Lance Corporal James Ashworth [Picture: via MOD]

The citation for Lance Corporal Ashworth’s VC said:

Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten.

His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack.

This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.

Lieutenant Colonel James Bowder, the commanding officer of the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, was made an OBE for services in Afghanistan at the investiture ceremony.

Speaking of Lance Corporal Ashworth’s VC, he said:

I speak for the whole regiment, the regimental family and the broader Army – we could not be more proud that this brave, capable young man has received such high national recognition.

The Victoria Cross

Lance Corporal James Ashworth's Victoria Cross
Lance Corporal James Ashworth's Victoria Cross [Picture: Lewis Whyld/Press Association Images]

The Victoria Cross is the highest military decoration for valour and only 10 medals have been awarded to British Army recipients since the Second World War.

It is only the second VC to be awarded to a soldier from the UK from the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan. The VC was also posthumously awarded to Corporal Bryan Budd of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment, who died while fighting the Taliban in 2006.