One of the most prestigious regiments in the British Army has paid tribute to a late soldier and footballer at a special Remembrance match.

Private Tom Lake, a member of the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales Regiment, was killed in action in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, on November 20, 2011.

Pte Lake played for Oxhey Jets and the club once again honoured the memory of one of their own by staging a fourth Remembrance game to raise money for the Royal British Legion’s Poppy Appeal, this year facing a team from the Coldstream Guards.

More than 430 people were at the Boundary Stadium yesterday to watch the Spartan South Midlands League Premier Division side comfortably win the fixture 6-0 following a moving act of Remembrance and tribute to Pte Lake.

Watford Observer:

Fred Weaving leads out the parade

Dignitaries, officials and both teams were led onto the pitch by a piper, with former Royal Marine Commando Fred Weaving at the head of the parade as he prepared to take the salute.

The occasion was given more gravity by the presence of a member of the Guards Corps of Drums, who sounded The Lost Post ahead of a two minutes silence after the wreath laying ceremony involving councillors, the police, football association officials, young players from Oxhey Jets Youth and both teams.

Watford Observer:

The Oxhey Jets Youth players lay their wreath

Pte Lake’s mother Carol also laid a wreath and the occasion was to have added poignancy when she officially opened the Tom Lake Memorial Stand for disabled supporters in memory of her son.

"From the moment you were born my life was complete and you had such an incredibly full life," Carol wrote in the programme. "You died doing a job that you absolutely loved. You are my hero.

Watford Observer:

Carol Lake unveils the Tom Lake Memorial Stand

"You said that when you came from your first tour of duty that you wanted a big, happy homecoming event, and here we all are. All the people that touched you and were part of your life as you were part of theirs. So this is a testament to you my darling, my everything, my boy, Tom."

Sgt Craig Backhouse, manager of Coldstream Guards FC, made a presentation to Carol before he received the Garry Beadle Memorial Trophy, named after the former Jets player who died in 2019, in recognition of the Guards’ involvement in the fixture.

Watford Observer:

Sgt Backhouse makes a presentation to Carol Lake

Sgt Backhouse said: “Civilian and military engagement can be difficult sometimes. It’s got to go through a lot of signatures to get approval and checks etc, so when we do get the approval and these things go ahead it just adds more gravity to the situation and just makes it all that more special.

“John’s (Jets general manager John Elliott) been constantly on at me, we’ve both been to and fro with messages, just expressing how excited we were. We’ve both been like kids at Christmas and to see it all pulled off on the day, it was well worth every moment of it. Scoreline aside, I loved it.”

Sgt Backhouse said he hoped it had been “a really lovely occasion” for Pte Lake’s mother. “He gave the ultimate sacrifice and that’s why we’re here today, playing that match.”

Watford Observer:

The Guards bugler sounds The Last Post

The occasion also had added significance for Jets manager Kevin Christou because he used to serve in the Grenadier Guards.

He said: “I’ve never seen something like this. We heard about this day when we first came in, John told us what it was like and said you won’t have seen anything like it before.

“We thought we had an idea of what it would be like and it was nothing like it. It was an unreal day.”

Watford Observer:

The floral tributes

Asked if he would like to be involved in the fixture again next year, Sgt Backhouse responded: “Without a shadow of a doubt and the guys will jump at it as well. I think a percentage of it will be they want to get a result next time, but they’ll do it as well just for the kindred spirit of it all.”