Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Genuinely Lovely Lad, and Such a Remarkable Young Man. We Were So Proud of Him; IN THEIR FIRST INTERVIEW, LOVED ONES OF AFGHAN HERO MICHAEL SWEENEY PAY TRIBUTE TO THEIR BOY

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

A Genuinely Lovely Lad, and Such a Remarkable Young Man. We Were So Proud of Him; IN THEIR FIRST INTERVIEW, LOVED ONES OF AFGHAN HERO MICHAEL SWEENEY PAY TRIBUTE TO THEIR BOY

Article excerpt

Byline: JOANNE BUTCHER

THEIR voices breaking with emotion, the proud parents of a hero soldier killed in action opened their hearts today for the first time.

Kim and Michael Sweeney said they had been humbled by the respect shown for their son in their home town.

And they paid tribute to a warm, generous, and kind-hearted lad who dedicated his life to serving his country. Guardsman Michael Sweeney, who was serving with the 1st Battalion Coldstream Guards, died on April 1 in Afghanistan's central Helmand Province after a bomb explosion.

He was just 19.

"Getting that news was just the worst feeling imaginable," said his heartbroken mam Kim, 40, from the family home in Lindsay Avenue, Blyth.

"I didn't really accept it until I saw Michael's body. I kept praying that the MoD had somehow made a mistake - but if it wasn't Michael it would have been somebody else's son."

She added: "Michael was a genuinely lovely lad and a remarkable young man. He was always trying to help people. We were so proud of him."

Michael lived in Stakeford before moving to Blyth, where he attended the town's Seaton Delaval Middle School and Blyth Community High School.

The Toon fan loved sports and the outdoors, and joined the Army Cadets aged 13. After completing his GCSEs, he joined the Coldstream Guards and was coming to the end of his first tour of active duty when tragedy struck.

He had been set to marry fiance Michelle Pink, 26, later this summer.

"Michael chose the Coldstream Guards for the Northumberland connection - and also for the uniform," explained Kim.

"He loved that red coat, he would strut around in it like a peacock. Michael was so proud to be a Coldstream Guardsman.

"When I first saw his photo in uniform I burst into tears."

His dad Michael senior, 41, added: "Michael didn't want to hang around on street corners. He wanted to make something of his life, to see the world.

"The Army life suited him and he was totally dedicated to his work. He was a very responsible soldier.

"It is only since he has gone that I really realise how many people's lives he touched. …

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