A ST ANNES soldier killed in Afghanistan “was loved by everyone”, say his heartbroken family.
Sgt Nigel Coupe, 33, a father-of-two, was on patrol with five comrades when the armoured vehicle they were travelling in was destroyed by a Taliban bomb blast, killing all six.
He leaves behind wife Natalie and two young children, Ella and Jasmine, mother Elaine, father Alan, sister Linda and grandfather Roy.
His family said: “Nigel was a loving grandson, son, husband and daddy who doted on his two little princesses. He dedicated almost 17 years of his life to the Army and we are immensely proud of all that he achieved in his short life. Nigel was loved by everyone and will be sorely missed. Words can’t describe the loss we feel.”
The Union Flag was lowered to half-mast at St Annes Town Hall as a mark of respect – shortly after news broke on Thursday of the tragedy which has shocked the nation.
Mayfield Primary School in St Annes – which Sgt Coupe attended as a youngster and later as a parent – described him as “friendly, lovely and caring”.
Headteacher Suzanne Fish said: “We’re all extremely shocked and upset at the news of Nigel’s death. He was a former pupil as well as one of our dads. He was a pleasure to know – a friendly, lovely, caring parent and my staff speak very highly of him. We know he will be sadly missed by his daughter at school, who clearly adored him. There will be lots of love and support for the family at Mayfield Primary and we’ll do our best to look after them.”
The former Lytham St Annes High School pupil was on secondment from the 1st Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment to the 3rd Battalion the Yorkshire Regiment when he died. The troops were on patrol in a Warrior armed vehicle when they were hit by the blast about 25 miles north of Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, at 6.30pm local time on March 6.
His fallen comrades were Cpl Jake Hartley, 20, Pte Anthony Frampton, 20, Pte Christopher Kershaw, 19, Pte Daniel Wade, 20, and Pte Daniel Wilford, 21, all of 3rd Battalion, the Yorkshire Regiment. The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Fylde MP Mark Menzies said: “It’s desperately sad news. Someone like Sgt Coupe is the best of British, serving his country with such tremendous courage in Afghanistan. It’s important we remember his wife and children in our prayers and do everything we can to support them.”
Philip Wood, headteacher at Lytham St Annes Technology and Performing Arts College, added: “Sgt Coupe is still fondly remembered by several members of staff as a hard-working and very upbeat person who always demonstrated a determination to succeed and an optimistic nature.”
Fylde’s mayor Coun Howard Henshaw paid tribute to the soldier on behalf of the borough. He said: “The whole of the nation owes a debt to Sgt Coupe and the Fylde will be thinking of his family and friends.
“Words can be of little comfort at a time like this – but everyone has the deepest admiration for the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for the benefit of others.
“He was in Afghanistan to make life safer for the rest of us and must never be forgotten. The bravery of our troops is something which must never be taken for granted.”
The tragedy was the biggest single loss of life for British forces in Afghanistan since an RAF Nimrod crash killed 14 people in September 2006. It took the number of UK troops who have died since the Afghan campaign began in 2001 to 404.