The father of a Nottinghamshire soldier who lost his life in Afghanistan says the family are “humbled” by plans to name a street in his memory. Rifleman Adrian Sheldon, of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, died during the conflict in May 2009 after several years of military service.
The 25 year old grew up in the town and took part in Cubs, Scouts and later the Army Cadets before joining the 2nd Battalion The Rifles in March 2001. Adrian will now have a new street named after him following a move by Ashfield District Council.
Mark Sheldon, Rifleman Sheldon’s father, said the renaming will give his family, friends and ex-servicemen another way to remember him. The 61-year-old engineer said: “It’s incredible because the suggestion came about from other people who want to do something for Adrian. It really hits your heart, people still think and care.”
During his military career, Adrian served on operations in Sierra Leone, Northern Ireland, Kosovo and Iraq before leaving the Army to pursue other careers. However, he re-joined the battalion and was deployed to Afghanistan, where he was killed in an explosion in Helmand Province.
Following his death, the Ministry of Defence described him as an “avid Mansfield Town supporter” who also enjoyed rugby and TV sports like darts. He was laid to rest in Kingsway Cemetery in Kirkby, and he is also listed on the roll of honour at the nearby war memorial.
Ashfield District Council has now confirmed a new street it’s creating off Central Avenue, in Kingsway, will be named in his memory. It followed calls by opposition councillors and members of the community to find new ways of remembering significant figures from the district.
Sheldon’s family will be given the final say on how the scheme comes forward and have accepted the authority’s offer for the renaming. Now his dad has confirmed they are “honoured and privileged” their son will be remembered in this way and confirmed their wishes for how it will be worded.
The street will feature his full name followed by the type of residential street it is used on, for example, ‘Adrian Sheldon Close’. Mark Sheldon added: “I think this will be a comfort for his mates [in the Army] because they all spent 24 hours a day together and then suddenly their mate has gone. They ate, slept and breathed together.
“Many a time we’ve gone up to the cemetery and there’s been somebody who served with him, who knew him and I think this will give them somewhere else to go and reflect on. We’re honoured and privileged that the community and the council have come forward with this suggestion.
“It helps his name live on and makes you feel a bit humbled that people want to do that for him.” He explained that the planned new street “couldn’t be in a more perfect spot”, with his burial place at the cemetery, the war memorial and his old school all within walking distance.
“In time to come, people that live on that street or in that area will be able to relate to that name. It helps us as a family and keeps his name going. It makes it more relatable as well, people always think about the First and Second World Wars but this is recent, it’s Afghanistan and it’s a local lad.”
Leader of the council, Councillor Jason Zadrozny, confirmed that the street renaming scheme during the cabinet meeting on Tuesday, February 21. He said: “I’ve been speaking to the family of Adrian Sheldon.
“I’m pleased to say they are delighted to accept a street we are building on the end of Central Avenue in Kingsway, which is directly next to the war memorial and opposite his final resting place. I’ve given it to the family to choose options on how we name it, and they can come up with ideas to bring back to the council.”
The authority is also exploring plans to name a street after Lance Corporal Paul Sandford, from Hucknall, who also died in Afghanistan aged 23. LCpl Sandford died during the conflict in June 2007 having served with the Worcester and Sherwood Foresters, and the authority says it will look into renaming a street in his memory if and when the opportunity arises.