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Friday, 21 November 2014

Cumbrian soldier shot by Taliban marries sweetheart

Few weddings are more emotional than that of Amy Thurlow and her soldier sweetheart Ashley Irving.

Soldier wedding photo
Amy Thurlow and Ashley Irving

When they tied the knot on Saturday morning, the happy couple did so in the knowledge that their romance was very nearly shattered by a Taliban fighter in far away Afghanistan.

Three years ago, the 24-year-old Army corporal was shot in the head by an insurgent during a fire-fight.

But with expert medical care and the support of Amy, 23, whom he met in Cockermouth five years ago, he made a full recovery.

Amy, a support worker in Workington, recalled passing out with shock when she was told that Ashley, from Aspatria, had been shot.

“At first I’d thought he was dead,” she said.

“I was at work when I got that call. After I’d woken up he called me and told me what had happened. It was a massive relief to hear him.

“He’s the love of my life.”

Amy and Ashley’s parents and sister stayed at his bedside in Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham for nine days as he began recovering from his injury – a fractured skull which meant he lost five per cent peripheral vision in his right eye. He returned to his duties with the Duke of Lancaster’s 2nd battalion after seven months.

Amy said: “As far as he’s concerned he is just doing his job – but it’s a job he loves and there’s nothing else he’d rather do. He was shot during his first tour of duty in Afghanistan, but he’s now done four. Marrying him means everything to me. In a sense, he’s like two people. He’s one person at work, and then there’s the man I see, somebody who’s loving and kind.”

Amy’s mother Shirley, 51, also recalled the moment when Ashley, unable to contact his family, rang her to say he was injured.

“It was horrendous,” she said. “He’s such a likeable, easy-going lad.

“Amy’s dad Steven died a year ago next Saturday from cancer and Ashley was brilliant when it happened.”

The couple married at St Cuthbert’s Church in Plumbland, where Amy is originally from, and held their reception at The Castle Inn Hotel, Bassenthwaite.

But Ashley was due to return to barracks in Catterick yesterday. They hope to have a proper honeymoon in six months.

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