Soldier commemorated at charity rugby league match

The family, friends and army comrades of a soldier killed in Afghanistan are to hold a rugby match in his memory.

Bombardier Craig Hopson from Castleford was serving with 40 Regiment Royal Artillery, when he was killed by an IED in Helmand in 2009 when he was just 24. His partner Eleanor Fradgley gave birth to their daughter Amelia the same year.

Now, his Royal Artillery rugby league team and his teammates from his hometown will meet at Harlequin’s Twickenham ground on Friday April 15 to raise funds for ABF The Soldiers’ Charity and the Royal Artillery charitable fund.

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His mother Lynn Hodson said: “This match is very important not only to the Hopson family but also to Craig’s friends as it’s a great way for us all to remember him together in a way that was a big part of his life.

“Craig would have loved to see his corps rugby league side play his civilian team, but I’m not too sure who he would have been shouting for!”

She will be at the match with Bdr Hopson’s partner.

“The Soldiers’ Charity is very important to us, as its a charity that can provide help to people that find themselves in a similar situation to ours.

“Any money we can raise for the charity is our way of thanking them for the help and support they have given to both us and other people that find themselves in our situation,” she said.

The game will be a curtain raiser to the main fixture – ’Quins against Castleford Tigers.

Gareth Barber, secretary of the Royal Artillery rugby league team, said: “This unique sporting event provides the Gunner rugby league squad the opportunity to remember a fallen colleague and support two excellent charities that provide for all soldiers, both serving and retired.

“Bdr Hopson is an excellent example of the modern soldier, courageous on operations, committed on the rugby pitch and a devoted father. It is a privilege to be involved in this event.”

Castleford-born Bdr Hopson went to the town’s technology college before joining the Army in August 2002.

The Ministry of Defence said he was killed while carrying out reconnaissance to find a suitable location for a polling station to be used in Afghanistan’s presidential elections.