Cheryl talks about the pain of losing her son and what SSAFA’s bereaved family support groups mean to her.

Cheryl Routledge

Cheryl talks about the pain of losing her son and what SSAFA’s bereaved family support groups mean to her.

Cheryl Routledge

Corporal Liam Riley was just 21 when he was killed by an IED in Helmand province. Liam was trying to reach a fellow soldier who has been injured seconds before.

Here his mother Cheryl and younger sister Olivia share memories of hearing the news he was gone and talk about their life since then.

Cheryl Routledge

‘The breath-taking pain of those initial seconds when your brain is struggling to comprehend your worst fear is indescribable’

Olivia's brother was killed in Afghanistan

Cheryl Routledge is the mother of Corporal Liam Riley, who died, aged just 21, on the 1 February 2010 in Helmand province, the victim of an IED. Liam died attempting to reach a fellow soldier who had seconds earlier suffered the same fate.

Early one Monday morning, as Cheryl returned from a food shop, she was confronted by two men in suits wearing Yorkshire regimental ties, and immediately she knew what had happened.

She said: “I was unpacking the bags and heard a knock at the door, I turned around and saw two men standing in the hallway. My whole being screamed NO!! no! no! no! not my boy.. I wanted to be told it was a mistake, or that Liam had just been injured, but I instinctively knew he was dead. The breath-taking pain of those initial seconds when your brain is struggling to comprehend your worst fear is indescribable.

 

Olivia

“When Liam went to war I always felt that he wouldn’t come back. I know it sounds silly but as soon as he set off for Afghanistan I felt like I wouldn’t see him again.

Mum Cheryl and daughter Olivia

“I still miss so much about him, Friday teatimes I still listen for his car pulling up, music blaring and hearing his kitbag being thrown on the kitchen floor full of dirty washing. Five years have passed and I still can’t go shopping on a Monday, I don’t think I will ever be able to.

“It was such a blow for the family, my mum collapsed when we told her the news and we had to call an ambulance.

“It was heart-breaking telling (his sister) Olivia. Where do you begin trying to explain to a five year old what had happened?  She and Liam were so close and telling her that she’ll never see her brother again is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

Olivia said: “I used to love jumping in the car with Liam and just driving off to the seaside for the day. We had so much fun together and it is still so difficult knowing we never will again.

“I’ve been going to SSAFA support groups to meet other people who have been through the same thing as me and talking about our experiences has helped a lot. I’m so proud of Liam and I will always miss him.”

Going to SSAFA Support Groups to meet other people who have been through the same thing has helped a lot.