The family of a veteran from Sunderland who died unexpectedly aged 57 from a heart attack is raising money for a memorial plaque in his home-town.
Kevin Jones served in the force for over 20 years first joining the Parachute Regiment and then the Special Airs Service.
He served in Northern Ireland and Iraq during the 1991 conflict losing several close comrades.
Kevin moved to France after leaving the force and sadly died on August 31. Now his family want to raise money for a plaque in Sunderland, where family and friends from the North East can pay their respects.
After leaving school, Kevin worked in Sunderland’s shipyards before deciding to change his career and joined the Parachute Regiment where he stayed for three years.
He then put himself forward to the SAS22 based in Hereford where he served his country with pride.
Kevin was a qualified medic and was also awarded the Freedom of the City in London which is a recognition awarded to people who have achieved success in their chosen field.
His nephew, Anthony Thompson, said: “He was in Northern Ireland at the height of all the trouble and served in the Iraq War in 1991 where he lost a lot of close colleagues. It was a very dangerous life.”
But not only was he dedicated to his country, but he was also committed to his family including wife Nicky and his children Alexander, 17, who has since joined the Parachute Regiment and Izzy, 21.
Tragically he lost his eldest son George, who was 21 at the time, to suicide two and half years ago, which his nephew said left him “a broken man.”
When he left the force, Kevin decided to move to France with his family to build a chateau which was the “home of his dreams”, with his work later taking him abroad to Algeria.
He would work four weeks on and have four weeks off which he used to spend time with his loved ones.
Anthony said: “He lost his son two and a half years ago and he was just a broken man.
“He was working so long on the chateau it was like a castle, it was beautiful and it’s just a life they wanted to have as a family.
“He managed to get it finished and was basically just working in the garden.”
But before he had time to enjoy it properly, he tragically died on August 31 after suffering from a heart attack which came as a huge shock to his family.
Anthony said: “We’re all just devastated it came totally out of the blue.
“It just happened out the blue but I know he was broken about his son, he was travelling about, coming home, working hard on the chateau and stress can be a slow burn.
“It was the biggest shock of my life when I got that phone call. When you have someone who has a serious illness you can prepare for it but this came totally out of the blue. He was fit and strong I still can’t believe it.”
Kevin was cremated in France but Anthony is now hoping to have a plaque in the National Veterans Walk in Mowbray Park, Sunderland, where he was born which will allow people to remember Kevin.
The National Veterans Walk project in Sunderland aims to create permanent tributes to all who have served or are still serving in the Regular and Reserve Armed Forces.
In Sunderland, a special ceremony was held for Kevin as people paid their respects to the much-loved dad.
Anthony continued: “We thought it would be great for everybody in Sunderland to have a place they can go see the plaque.
“When he lived here he was very involved with his community and he was so loved here.
“He was a great guy, a true gentleman. Everybody loved him, people in Sunderland are devastated. He had so many friends in Sunderland.
“We still don’t know half of what he’s done.
“He loved his whole family and he’d always tell you to ‘Come out when you can’ but with the current situation it has been difficult.
“Kevin had a lot of close friends, but everybody who met Kevin was his friend. He was a lovely man, we’re all just devastated.
“Sometimes you just think where is the justice? A man that had done so much not just for himself and for his family but for his country is just gone. He’s missed by so many.”
If you would like to donate you can do so here. Anything extra raised will go to the NHS.