Gala dinner will mark 7th anniversary of death of Lance Corporal Jonathan Woodgate
PUBLISHED: 12:07 16 March 2017 | UPDATED: 12:43 16 March 2017
Friends and family of Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan ‘Jo’ Woodgate will remember him at a gala dinner.
The memory of a Lavenham soldier who was killed in action in Afghanistan almost seven years ago will be kept alive at a special gala evening.
Lance Corporal of Horse Jonathan ‘Jo’ Woodgate, 26, died in a grenade attack just days before he was due to end his tour and return home to Suffolk.
His father Tony, from Monks Eleigh, is organising a black tie gala event, with an army of helpers, to take place on March 25 - the day before the seventh anniversary of his son’s death.
He said the evening would be a special occasion for the family and friends of L-Cpl Woodgate to get together and honour his memory.
“Every year we have a meet up with his friends - army and personal - and have a meal and a drink and in recent years it’s just become having a drink with the boys. So this year we thought we would do something totally different and have a black tie thing.”
The event is taking place at Stoke by Nayland Golf Club and will include a three-course dinner and a raffle and auction with the proceeds to be split 50/50 between the charities Help for Heroes and Combat Stress.
The evening is already sold out and there are about 180 people attending.
Mr Woodgate said his son, of the Household Cavalry Regiment, was extremely popular and his friends still speak very fondly of him. “His nearest and dearest will all be there on the Saturday and they keep in touch on a regular basis,” he said.
Mr Woodgate, whose wife Jayne came up with the idea for the gala, said the numerous fundraising events organised in his son’s memory provided a focus for his grief.
Skydives and a 154-mile walk are just some of the events that have raised cash in memory of L-Cpl Woodgate.
“Jo is one of my favourite subjects,” said Mr Woodgate. “I would talk about him until I’m blue in the face. I personally just want to keep the memory going.”
He added: “We have pictures of him everywhere. He has a plaque in Lavenham, a plaque in Chelsworth [where he was born], a plaque at the British Legion in Lavenham. We built a barbecue in his memory at the British Legion.”
Thomas O’Callaghan, who was in L-Cpl Woodgate’s troop, and his wife Lucy, who have moved to Lavenham, are also helping to organise the gala event.