The mother of a “supremely courageous and inspiring” Corby soldier who died as he protected the lives of his comrades in a battle with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan has spoken of her pride after accepting his posthumous Victoria Cross (VC).
Kerry Ashworth, 44, said no words could describe her feelings after receiving the VC from the Queen in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace on behalf of her son, 23-year-old Lance Corporal James Ashworth, of 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards.
“There are no words that can describe the feeling - I am so very, very proud,” she said.
“There are no words that can describe how you feel when you are told that your son is the bravest of the brave.”
Mrs Ashworth, of Corby, said when the Queen had left the room after awarding the VC, the “tears just came.”
“When she left the room, the tears just came. I thought it was such an honour for us today as a family, for his friends and for his girlfriend, “ she said.
“For us to receive this is a recognition of the really hard job that he did over there.
“James has gone but he will never be forgotten, he is part of the regimental history, he is part of history. He will never, ever be forgotten and his memory will go on forever.”
L/Cpl Ashworth died on June 13 last year after crawling along ground that was being peppered with bullets to throw his last grenade at a sniper who had his team pinned down.
The citation for his VC said: “Despite the ferocity of the insurgent’s resistance, Ashworth refused to be beaten.
“His total disregard for his own safety in ensuring that the last grenade was posted accurately was the gallant last action of a soldier who had willingly placed himself in the line of fire on numerous occasions earlier in the attack.
“This supremely courageous and inspiring action deserves the highest recognition.”
The award - the country’s highest award for bravery in the face of enemy attack - is only the second VC to be awarded to a soldier from the UK from the 12-year conflict in Afghanistan.
The VC was also awarded to Corporal Bryan Budd of 3 Para, who died fighting the Taliban in 2006.
Mrs Ashworth was accompanied by L/Cpl Ashworth’s father, Duane, who was also a Grenadier Guard and L/Cpl Ashworth’s younger brother Corporal Coran Ashworth, 22, a serving soldier.
Duane Ashworth said he felt pride for his family and the regiment.
“He (James) was always selfless in everything he did, whether with his mates in the pub or in battle,” he said.
Lieutenant-Colonel James Bowder, commander of the 1st Battalion The Grenadier Guards, was made an OBE for services in Afghanistan at the investiture ceremony.
Speaking of L/Cpl Ashworth’s VC, he said “I speak for the whole regiment, the regimental family and the broader Army - we could not be more proud that this brave, capable young man has received such high national recognition.”
L/Cpl Ashworth’s company commander, Captain Mike Dobbin, of the Grenadier Guards was also honoured with the Military Cross for bravery in Afghanistan.
Capt Dobbin led his men to defeat the enemy against the odds on four occasions, including the incident that killed L/Cpl Ashworth.