x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Parents grieve after soldier's death

The UAE-based parents of the 150th British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan tell of their pain at the loss of their "darling son".

ABU DHABI // The UAE-based parents of the 150th British soldier to be killed in Afghanistan have told of their pain at the loss of their "darling son". Lance Corp Christopher Harkett, 22, from Swansea in Wales, died in an explosion while on patrol in the Musa Qala district in Helmand province on Saturday. His parents, Gerwyn and Alicia, moved to Al Ain with their other son, Kyle, in August last year after Mr Harkett Snr took up a job as a consultant at Dascam, a corporate security consultancy based in Abu Dhabi.

Mr Harkett Snr, 45, was also a soldier and completed 24 years' service in the Royal Regiment of Wales, where he rose to the rank of Warrant Officer Class 1. They flew back to the UK on Sunday evening to be with family and friends and to make funeral arrangements. "Chris was our beloved son," said a statement on behalf of his family. "Although he has been taken from us at a young age, he lived life to the full.

"Our hearts are empty at this moment but we find some peace in that he died bravely protecting people of a land that was far from his home. "He will remain in our hearts and the memories of him will be with us forever. Goodnight our darling son, you will remain forever young." A spokesman from Dascam said: "We were incredibly sad to hear the news. All Gerwyn's colleagues are acutely aware of the risk soldiers in Afghanistan take because many of them are ex-military themselves and have children of around Chris's age serving in places like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"We feel desperately sorry for Gerwyn, Alicia and the whole family and our thoughts are very much with them at this awful time." Lance Corp Harkett, who was known to his friends as H, leaves a wife, Danielle, who said: "I cannot begin to describe the pain and hurt I feel knowing I will not be with you again. "I only have the memories of our short life together, but I'm grateful that I had the privilege and honour to be your wife.

"You will be in my heart for the rest of my life and I will never forget the time we had together. I have adored you from the moment we met, and I will never love any man the way I love you." Lance Corp Harkett, who was a sniper in the 2nd Battalion Royal Welsh Regiment, survived two tours of duty before his death. chamilton@thenational.ae