Sunday, October 25, 2009

Officer inspires Afghan school

A new school in Afghanistan initiated by a major in the Welsh Guards has opened its doors, although he did not live to see it completed.

Major Sean Birchall started the renovation project in Basaran.

Maj Birchall, 33, who was described as an "instinctive leader", was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED) while on patrol in Helmand province.

He hoped the school would address local concerns about a lack of education for their children.

The Ministry of Defence said: "Villagers explained how the headmaster had been executed by the Taliban and the school had fallen into a state of disrepair."

"Maj Birchall promised to turn the situation around, but the Guards were rocked by the tragic death of their company commander in mid-June."

His troops vowed to complete the officer's work while soldiers from 4th Battalion The Mercian Regiment provided security so local workers could renovate the school.

The school can accommodate more than 370 pupils.

Major Birchall was born in South Africa, and moved to the UK as a baby, growing up in Guildford, Surrey.

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