Soldier to be laid to rest in Tayport

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EVERY day is a gift, not a given right ...

These are the poignant words of Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, the 26-year-old army dog handler who died in Afghanistan earlier this month.

They were contained in a letter written to his family before he embarked on a six-month tour of duty during which Liam and his constant companion, a spaniel called Theo, distinguished themselves — but which ended in tragedy for them both at the hands of the Taliban.

The brave young soldier, described by his family as ‘larger than life’, will be laid to rest on Tuesday with full military honours in Tayport, the town he called home.

His funeral service will be held in the same church in which he was christened and will include music that he chose himself, including ‘The Day That Never Comes’ by the heavy metal band Metallica and, movingly, ‘The Funeral’ by the indie group Band of Horses.

Liam wrote a number of letters to his family and as the funeral of her youngest son approaches, his mum Jane Duffy says that they are proving to be a great source of comfort.

Speaking from her home in Belgium this week, she said: “The soldiers are encouraged to write letters to their families so that they have something to remember them by should the worst happen.

“Some of the things Liam has written are very profound and immensely touching.

“He was an amazing lad and so thoughtful.

“He regularly phoned his gran in Tayport to make sure she was ok, and there aren’t many 26-year-olds who would do that.

“He was a character and a half — if you met him once, you would never forget him.

“I don’t think Liam realised what a huge impact he made on other people; we have had so many messages from his friends and colleagues.”

In his final letter to his family, Liam wrote: ‘A man will travel many miles while chasing his dreams’, and for him that dream was fulfilled when he became a dog handler with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps.

Mrs Duffy said: “Liam joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers first, then he saw a video of dog training and knew that was his dream.”

She went on: “He was born at Forth Park Hospital in Kirkcaldy because we were in Germany at the time and I wanted him to be born on Scottish soil. But Tayport was always our home.”

Mrs Duffy said she hoped to return to live in Tayport one day.

“Losing Liam has reminded me about what is important in life,” she said.