Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Liam Tasker: Army dog handler awarded Elizabeth Cross

Princess Royal presents Elizabeth Cross
Image caption The Elizabeth Cross was presented to L/Cpl Tasker's family by Princess Anne

The family of an army dog handler who was killed in Afghanistan has been presented with the Elizabeth Cross by the Princess Royal.

Lance Corporal Liam Tasker, 26, from Kirkcaldy, Fife, was killed on 1 March when he was on patrol in Helmand province with springer spaniel Theo.

The sniffer dog, described as a "true friend" to the soldier, died hours later after suffering a seizure.

The Princess presented the medal to the soldier's family at a private ceremony.

It was held at the Defence Animal Centre in Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire.

L/Cpl Tasker's mother, Jane Duffy collected the medal together with his father Ian Tasker, his brother Ian, his two sisters Laura and Nicola, and his girlfriend Leah.

Mrs Duffy said: "It was a great honour to receive the Elizabeth Cross from Princess Anne. It has been a memorable and emotional day, but also a very proud occasion."

'Saved lives'

The Elizabeth Cross was introduced in 2009 to give recognition to bereaved families of soldiers killed on operations, or as a result of terrorist actions since 1 January 1948.

Each individual cross carries the name of the soldier, sailor or craftsman who died serving his country.

L/Cpl Tasker was deployed to Afghanistan on 8 September 2010 as part of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment.

Having trained as an arms and explosives search dog handler, he was attached to the 1st Battalion Irish Guards on 19 February 2011.

At his funeral in March, Lt Col David Thorpe, commanding officer of the 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, paid tribute to the young man.

He said: "He saved the lives of his friends and colleagues on numerous occasions.

"He was a hero. He knew that he could be and he knew that he was, but he would never tell you himself."

The Defence Animal Centre is responsible for the procurement and training of all military working dogs, and delivering dog handler courses.

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