Army medals come home

Keith Gardner's service medals
Keith Gardner's service medals
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Medals belonging to a Preston soldier killed while on National Service have been presented to Lancashire Infantry Museum by his sister.

Keith Gardner, a private in the First Battalion of the Loyal North Lancashire Regimentfrom the Fulwood Barracks, was killed aged 22 in a road accident in Malaya in June 1959, days before he was due to return home.

In 2011, Keith’s sister Avrial Butcher travelled to Malaya with Keith’s army friend Fred Hudson, where she picked up his re-issued service medals, after the originals were lost by the regiment.

She said: “I didn’t want the medals to be put in a drawer and be forgotten about, like so many are.

“There’s so many robberies as well that you can’t have them on display, so I thought the best idea would be to present them to the museum so that people could enjoy them, and some might say ‘I knew that lad’.”

Avril, 72, who has the support of her family in her decision, travelled from her home in Telford to Preston on Saturday for the ceremony, where the medals were given to Roger Goodwin, museum trustee.

She said: “It was an emotional occasion, because I was handing over a piece of my brother.”

She added: “I’m very grateful to Freddy Hudson for all of his help getting me out to Malaya to get these medals.”

The regiment only discovered five years ago that Keith’s medals had been lost, and so arranged for his replacement medals to be reissued.

Avrial was presented with them at Keith’s graveside in Taiping after scattering their mother’s ashes on his grave.

The medals will be displated in the museum’s New Malayan cabinet, which is currently under construction, thanks to a grant from amongst others, the Lottery Heritage Fund.

Keith’s death was doubly sad for his family, because in 1944, he was one of only a few children to survive when an American bomber crashed onto Holy Trinity C of E School in Freckleton.