HE WENT to Syria to make a difference. Now friends and relatives of a Barnsley man who went to tackle terrorists have spoken of their shock and pride.
Konstandinos Erik Scurfield, a 24-year-old former Royal Marine, gave up the safety and security of South Yorkshire in a bid to make a difference in Syria.
Now his girlfriend Jemma Weston has spoken of her pride and says he was planning to come home to her, while friends say they are planning a school reunion in his memory.
Ms Weston, 23, said he went to the war-torn country to “help other people and to make a difference”.
Ms Weston said Mr Scurfield, known as Kosta at school, had contacted her some months ago to say he wanted to return home to her, and added that news of his death had left her heartbroken.
She said she believes he travelled to Syria in order to “give something back”, having told her before he left that it was simply something he had to do, it was reported.
His death earlier this week sent shockwaves through his home town. Now his friends are planning a reunion of friends at his now-closed school.
Mr Scurfield’s friends from Royston High School, where he studied until 2006, said they are struggling to come to terms with his loss.
And they said they are struggling to reconcile the reports of his front-line fighting in Syria with the laid-back, long-haired, drama-loving teenager they knew.
Emma Hyman, 24, said his school friends have found it difficult to match the fun-loving actor who was loved by everyone in his year with the pictures they have seen of him over the last couple days in military poses wearing combat fatigues.
100The number of westerners, including several Britons, believed to have joined the Kurds to fight IS
“He was definitely a bit of an extrovert and he wanted to be a actor,” Miss Hyman said. “He was such a people-person and when he went into the forces it was a big surprise. He wasn’t a fighter. He didn’t get into any fights at school or anything like that. It’s a bit of a mystery because he didn’t show interest in those kind of things at all at school.”
She said he came to Royston High, which no longer exists, in his early teens from Nottingham and was noticeable because he did not have the ubiquitous Barnsley accent and was “really well-spoken, very polite and very respectful”.
She said: “Everybody loved him because he was a real character. He was one of those people who you couldn’t find anything negative at all to say about him. He was friendly and funny and really laid back. He had such a cheeky smile.
“He got on with everybody. That’s why it’s such a shock for us all.”
Miss Hyman said: “It has been a massive shock. We’re trying to organise something so we can all get together and remember him. It’s at the early stages at the moment. It’s a shame we are going to all come together in these circumstances.”
Mr Scurfield, who was an expert in battlefield medicine, is believed to have travelled to Syria three or four months ago hoping to provide medical and humanitarian support.
His family said in a statement: “His flame might have burned briefly but it burned brightly with love, courage, conviction and honour and we are very proud of him.”
Mr Scurfield’s parents had recently spoken to Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis about their fears for their son’s safety.
The Labour MP said their “worst fears had been realised”. He said: “Erik was an experienced former Royal Marine who was horrified by the atrocities being carried out by Isis.”
While high numbers of foreigners are known to have joined IS, around 100 Westerners - including several Britons - are thought to have fought alongside the Kurds.
Last month, a 19-year-old serving British soldier was returned to his unit after joining the Kurdish peshmerga.
In December it emerged two former British soldiers had travelled to Syria to fight against IS.