Council removes estate memorial for soldier who served in Iraq
A PROMINENT tribute to a beloved soldier and "local hero" has been removed by the council after two years.
The Union Flag memorial sign for Lance Corporal Paul Knight has become a familiar sight for those driving into New Addington since November 2009.
But a blank void has now replaced the spot where the 20-year-old's banner took pride of place on the roundabout at the top of Lodge Lane, much to the anger of the soldier's family.
The dedicated soldier died in a car accident in Wiltshire after arriving back in Britain from Iraq in 2007.
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And a sign for Darren Smith, a local youngster who passed away last year, has also been removed from the spot.
L Cpl Knight's sister Becky said: "As a community we should be proud of our soldiers.
"Paul was a local hero and a role model to children here. He lived and breathed for the Army and he wanted to be a corporal.
"His wish was to die at war but he was killed in a tragic accident through no fault of his own.
"Paul didn't die fighting and because of that his name wouldn't have been remembered in a war memorial. That's why we put the sign up."
When the brave L Cpl was preparing to visit his family, he asked them for a banner to welcome him back home.
Becky, of Milne Park West, said: "I didn't want to do it at first because I knew he was going back on tour and it felt like tempting fate.
"But we made one and put it on that roundabout for him.
"Paul saw it and absolutely loved it.
"He showed pictures of it to everyone, he was so proud of it.
"And then two weeks later he died."
The Union Flag sign was removed from the spot by Croydon Council on Saturday, along with the sign for Darren Smith.
Memorials to 19-year-old Mark Gurney who died in a motorbike accident in 2009 have also been taken down from Central Parade.
Becky, 27, added: "I can understand why the council wants to take down all of these tributes.
"We can't have New Addington plastered in signs for everyone who dies – the estate already has a bad name as it is.
"But it's different with Paul, it was about being proud of soldiers who fight for our country and he was a true hero."
A Croydon Council spokesman said: "We always speak to the families of people whose lives have been commemorated in this way and discuss whether they want to place a more discreet but permanent memorial in the area.
"Arrangements are also made for people to collect any items that are removed."