Award for Topsham man killed in Afghanistan

The family of former Topsham PCSO Mark Marshall have received an Elizabeth Cross in his memory

THE FAMILY of a former Topsham police officer who was killed in Afghanistan while serving with the Territorial Army have accepted a military honour on his behalf.

Mark Marshall’s relatives received a posthumous Elizabeth Cross from The Duke Of Gloucester this week in recognition of their loss.

The 29-year-old worked in Topsham as a police community support officer for a number of years. Mark, who was a member of the Territorial Army, was killed by a roadside bomb north-east of Sangin in February.

The ceremony, held on Dartmoor, commemorated the life of the rifleman who was part of 6th Battalion The Rifles.

Lt Col Tim House, commanding officer of 6th Battalion, said his family would be supported for ‘as long as necessary.’

“When a solider joins the Rifles regiment, he joins a regimental family,” he said. “In tragic circumstances like this, we will continue to honour that commitment.”

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Friends, relatives and colleagues of Mark took part in a fundraiser which involved pulling a giant aircraft along the runway at Brize Norton last week to raise money for The Mark Marshall Youth Fund.

The fund was launched earlier this year by those who knew him as a lasting tribute to the solider.

Percy Giles, also a former Topsham police community support officer, worked closely with Mark and is one of the trustees of the venture.

Mr Giles said: “Through his work and in his spare time, Mark helped those who were less fortunate than himself. He really enjoyed working with young people.

“He was a member of the team that ran the Eastside Project and a Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme in Topsham with the sole purpose of giving those with less opportunities in life a helping hand,” Mr Giles added.

The Duke of Gloucester also presented an award to the relatives of Sergeant Chris Reed, 25, from Plymouth, who died while on a routine patrol in Helmand Province last January.

Exeter Neighbourhood Inspector Brent Davison said Mark was an absolute gentleman who always surpassed expectations.

He said: “Mark was an excellent PCSO and would have made a superb police officer which he aspired to.

“He was always smiling and particularly enjoyed helping young people.

“I remember being present at a Duke of Edinburgh awards ceremony where the recipients were young people for his patch who he and his colleagues had mentored.

“Mark made such a difference to those young people and his legacy will go on with them. He was rightly proud of the youngsters and they, in common with the rest of Mark’s community, thoroughly respected him.

“He will be very sadly missed by all had the pleasure of meeting him.”