The mum of murdered soldier Lee Rigby has spoken of her delight at plans to unveil a permanent memorial to her son on Armistice Day.
Lyn Rigby and her family will attend a moving service on November 11 to dedicate a plaque close to the spot where drummer Lee was hacked to death by jihadists near his barracks in Woolwich, South East London.
The poignant tribute at St George's Garrison Chapel is a major victory after The Sun on Sunday campaigned for tragic Lee, 25, to be honoured where he lived, served and died.
Lyn, of Middleton, Manchester, said: "I am thrilled to be attending the unveiling of Lee's memorial. It is something we have wanted in the town of Woolwich so that my son is never forgotten. He lived and served with his regiment in Woolwich and also died there when the horrors of the battlefield came to a London street two and a half years ago. It is only fitting that he should now be honoured there and it will be a very proud moment for me and our family."
She added: "We are so grateful to the Sun on Sunday and its readers for helping to make this happen. It will be a very proud moment for us all as I know it would be for Lee too. He deserves this recognition for making the ultimate sacrifice for his country and it is a chance for us to pay respects to him. It also gives me a beautiful and peaceful place where I can visit with my children and grandchildren to talk about Lee - a focus where they can feel safe and comfortable to show how much they love and care for him."
Lyn is also launching a new charity, The Lee Rigby Foundation, which she hopes will help military families and veterans as part of a continuing legacy in her son's name. It will also help tackle the problem of radicalisation among young Brits in a bid to prevent another tragic murder like Lee's.
Lyn said: "I hope it will make Lee proud. The aim of the foundation is to look after bereaved military families as well as injured veterans and their loved ones.
I know how important this is because when we lost Lee, we had no idea who to turn to when we needed help. It was a very lonely place to be.
The primary aim of the Lee Rigby Foundation will be to provide respite for those who really need looking after. We want to purchase a series of lodges or holiday homes around the country so that when people feel they can't cope any more, we can offer them a place where they can go in peace and tranquillity to recoup some strength and carry on. In addition the charity will grow to become a 'one stop shop' providing help across the board for military families, offering help with every day issues like housing, banking, insurances and bills. In the long term, I hope the foundation can have a real impact in tackling radicalisation among young people. I'd like to use my son's name to show people that it is not the way forward and that no good can ever come from the kind of jihadi violence that Lee suffered.
If we can go into schools and teach the right message to young people, it would be an astounding legacy for Lee and one that I know he would be so supportive of. If more people were like Lee, there would be far less suffering in the world. Prevention has to better than cure. No one should have to go through what my family has suffered. I want Lee's larger-than-life personality and joy to shine through in everything the foundation does in his name. I was lucky to have had him in my life for 25 wonderful years.
I know my grief will never go away, but I am learning to cope with my sorrow a little more. It doesn't make it less painful, but working on projects for Lee has made me stronger. It has given me a real sense of purpose to achieve great things for him."
Britain's most highly decorated Royal Marine, George Cross winner Matt Croucher, is a patron of the new charity.
He said: "Lee's murder was a truly shocking and cowardly act which shocked the nation. But in creating Lee's foundation, the support that has been pledged by companies, individuals and organisations has been amazing. There is a lot of work to do and we'd welcome any support and assistance in making the foundation as successful as we can. I'm certain we can make Lee's name live on in a positive light and help thousands of individuals and families over the coming years."
The Lee Rigby Foundation will also work with Cross Deck, which helps veterans find work when they leave the military.
CEO Dixie Dean, a former Royal Marine, said: "Cross Deck has always been about helping guys at a really lonely time in their lives. They need to know that they’re surrounded by their colleagues and that they have somewhere they can turn to for help. Being involved with the Lee Rigby Foundation is the perfect way for us to step up our game and make even more of a difference.
"Working with Lyn, who’s such an inspiration, has opened my eyes to so many instances of bravery and a sense of community that’s made me remember why the British Armed Forces hold such a special place in my heart.”
The foundation's first fundraiser will be held on November 28 at Sheffield Wednesday Football Club, where daredevils will be able to ride a giant zip-wire across the stadium.
Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at the club, Spencer Taylor, said: "The Lee Rigby Foundation is such a brilliant cause. We have supported Lyn with advice and ideas for the launch of the charity and will continue to support future initiatives and help to bring on board other major football clubs."
Meanwhile, Lyn is writing a book about Lee and the fallout from his death, which saw Islamic extremists Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale jailed for life.
She said: "I hope by writing about Lee I have shown what he was really like – the human being behind the soldier's uniform. From the moment he was born, he embraced life with gusto and his joy and humour really defined him."
Lee Rigby: A Mother’s Story by Lyn Rigby & Rosie Dunn will be published next year by Simon & Schuster.
To support the fundraiser at Sheffield Wednesday, contact email@example.com. Charity wristbands will also be available to buy fromwww.leerigbyfoundation.co.uk