THIS week marks five years since Wigan Royal Marine Steven Darbyshire was tragically killed while on duty in Afghanistan.
Today, the war hero’s partner Kate opened up about how his death has left such a gaping hole in the family which includes his two young sons Ryan and Callum.
Affectionately known as “Darbs”, Sgt Darbyshire died on June 23, 2010 when he helped every member of his squadron over a bridge while under heavy gunfire before being fatally shot.
He has never been forgotten though. That is very much true in Springfield, where he lived, and the whole Wigan.
Kate said: “June 23, for us as a family, is always a difficult day and even five years later, as much as you try not to, you constantly find yourself re-living the events in your head.
“It’s still hard to comprehend how a single knock on your door can completely decimate your whole future.
We talk about him often with love and plenty of laughter, telling stories from home and at work, keeping his memory firmly aliveKate - Steven’s partner
“As much as the date is significant the actual day is no different from any other, as he isn’t here with us.
“He is missed by so many people in a multitude of ways; his sense of humour, his laugh, his smile.”
For Ryan and Callum, the anniversary means that they have both now lived half their lives without their father.
Despite everything they have been through though, the pair continue to do him proud.
“Our sons Ryan and Callum are now 10 and eight respectively,” added Kate. “They are such funny, loving and vibrant young men.
“It’s heartbreaking to think that Steven has already missed so many milestones in their young lives - family holidays, parents evenings, sports day, presentations but yet every time they score a goal or make an outstanding save - I know he’s there watching them, beaming with pride
“Steven made the ultimate sacrifice and I feel that the biggest injustice that we could ever do is to not live our lives to the absolute full.”
It’s through his two boys, though, that memory of Sgt Darbyshire is maintained.
And on such a hard day, Kate also wanted to pay tribute to those who have helped the family over the years.
“It’s through the eyes of our beautiful boys Ryan and Callum that Steven and his legacy lives on,” she said.
“We talk about him often with love and plenty of laughter, telling stories from home and at work, keeping his memory firmly alive.
“I would like to thank so many people who have helped and supported us over the last five years and continue to do so.
“The boys and I have been overwhelmed with so many messages, from family and friends, people of Wigan and the Marine family that we are so privileged to be a part of.
“We take great comfort and reassurance in the fact that Steven hasn’t been forgotten and never will be.”