Saturday, November 6, 2010
His bare back is still red raw from their freshly-inked names.But former soldier Shaun Clark had promised to have the name of every troop killed in Afghanistan tattooed on his body in honour of their sacrifice.And he wasn’t going to back out.Mr Clark, 43, spent more than four hours in the tattooist’s chair today as each of the 232 names were etched in ink over his chest and back.He said: ‘I don’t mind suffering for a few days if I can let the lads know that people really care about what they’re doing out there, and raise some money for the guys coming home wounded as well.’The family thought I was mad to begin with, but they’ve come round to the idea now, and my wife is backing me all the way.’
The married father-of-two from Doncaster hopes his challenge will raise £500 for the charity Help for Heroes.He plans on updating the sombre list every year on Remembrance Day if required.Before his ordeal began, Mr Clark said: ‘It’s going to be painful business but it’s nothing compared to what the troops are going through every single day on the front line.’He added: ‘I know it’s a bit extreme covering the top half of your body front and back with 223 names, but it’s my way of honouring all those men and women and it’ll be there as a memorial for as long as I live.’Mr Clark said: ‘I wanted to do something to raise money for the heroes who still need help and to honour the memory of the fallen.’I've still lots of friends from my days in the Army over in Afghanistan and there’s lots of Donny lads out there as well.’Lots of people do things to raise money but I wanted to do something different and something permanent.
’It’s not just about raising money – it’s also about letting these lads know that people care about what they’re doing.’Tattoo artist Kevin Kent, who is donating his services free of charge, said: ‘We’re going to start just as the two minute silence begins at 11am on Wednesday, and I’ve told Shaun that’s it’s going to be a slow and painful process.’Mr Clark served in Denmark, Gibraltar and Norway before leaving the Army in 1997.
He says he has received many messages of support from soldiers still out in Afghanistan as well as from former colleagues.Mr Clark has set up a page on the Just Giving fundraising website and has raised £165.His page is inundated with supportive comments from well-wishers.One supporter writes: ‘Good luck shaun its means a lot to me what you are doing as my husband is there soon.’Another adds: ‘Top bloke. We will remember them.’A Help for Heroes spokesman said: ‘We are used to people going the extra mile, but this goes far beyond the norm.’
Shaun was in touch a few days ago to confirm everything was going ahead.’It turned out to be a very poignant conversation because the volunteer who took the call lost her husband in action earlier in the year and, of course, his name is among those on the list.”Help for Heroes is a charity that raises money to support members of the Armed Forces who have been wounded.In just over two years, the charity has raised over £30million through more than 10,000 individual events.