THE father of a Yorkshire paratrooper killed in Afghanistan said yesterday he was “the proudest father on the planet” after seeing a memorial unveiled to his son.
Private Martin Bell, 24, from Bradford, was killed in an explosion a year ago after going to the aid of a wounded colleague whose legs were amputated by an IED.
He had disobeyed an order not to move from his position but his brave actions in applying tourniquets saved the life of his friend and earned Pte Bell a posthumous George Medal for gallantry.
Pte Bell, who was killed in a blast as the injured soldier was being stretchered away, had previously served as a police community support officer with West Yorkshire Police.
Former colleagues in Haworth, where he patrolled, arranged for a stone plaque to be placed outside the police contact point.
Yesterday’s unveiling was attended by Parachute Regiment soldiers, members of his family and police colleagues.
After the ceremony, his father Simon Bell said the plaque meant a great deal to the family.
“Long after we have gone, people will still remember Martin. I’m just the proudest father on the planet. I used to look at his picture with sadness but now there’s so much pride.”
Pte Bell’s mother Elaine said: “I have told people there’s no tears now, it’s smiles all the way. Martin would not want people to be upset over him. Martin has left a big void in our hearts that will never heel. No-one will ever forget his sense of humour, cheeky grin and compassionate heart.”
The plaque was provided free by local craftsmen and was unveiled by dignitaries including West Yorkshire Police chief constable Sir Norman Bettison,
Sir Norman said: “As a PCSO, Martin worked in the heart of the local community in the Worth Valley so it is appropriate such a fitting memorial has been created in Martin’s name at one of the contact points we use to provide truly local policing.
“It is heartwarming to see so many individuals, not least the talented craftsmen who created this plaque, come together to give their effort and time to remember Martin this way.”
Bradford Councillor Glen Miller said the council also intended to honour Pte Bell by naming a street in his honour.
The ceremony ended as a lone bugler sounded the Last Post as those watching bowed their heads.