1. ITV Report

Family 'intensely shocked' by death of soldier son

Sapper Connor Ray died on Wednesday Photo: Ministry of Defence

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed that a soldier from Newport has died after being injured in Afghanistan.

21-year-old Sapper Connor Ray was serving with 33 Engineer Regiment. He died on April 18 at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. He was flown home after being seriously injured, on the eve of his 21st birthday, in an explosion in Helmand Province last week.

We are intensely shocked, distressed and saddened after losing our hero Connor Ray...We are all tremendously proud of Connor. He loved his time in the Army and made great friends.

Connor was a hero to all of his family and friends...[Everyone] will miss him terribly.

We would like to thank everybody for their kind words, love and support at this tragic time.

– Family statement

On Wednesday April 11, Sapper Ray was involved in a bomb clearance operation in the Nad 'Ali district of Helmand Province. His team were trying to clear a compound previously used by insurgents, to allow the local population to return there safely. He was injured when a bomb exploded. He received immediate medical attention and was treated at Camp Bastion before being flown back to the UK.

In heaven with his mum now, we will always remember his love of life, his sense of humour and cherish the short time he had to touch our lives.

– Family statement

Sapper Ray leaves behind his brother Vinnie, sisters Hollie and Bonnie, stepfather Steve, grandparents Leo and Linda, and girlfriend Hollie.

Paying tribute to the soldier, Lieutenant Colonel Simon Bell said he was a "hard-working" and "dedicated" member of the team, with a "natural ability to encourage and inspire others".

An extremely positive and determined young soldier, Sapper Ray was a real team player. Amiable and upbeat, he had a natural ability to encourage and inspire others with his limitless optimism.

– Lieutenant Colonel Simon Bell, Commanding Officer 33 Engineer Regiment

Sapper Ray is the 25th Welsh soldier to be killed due to operations in Afghanistan.

The Secretary of Defence Philip Hammond said he was "saddened" by the news, giving his condolences to Sapper Ray's family.

It is clear from the tributes paid to him that Sapper Ray had a bright future ahead of him and was someone who inspired those around him with his positive attitude, infectious wit and limitless optimism. My thoughts and heartfelt condolences go out to his family, comrades and friends at this difficult time.

– Philip Hammond, The Secretary of Defence

I have known Sapper Ray for nearly a year; he was always happy, never more so than when busy. Always smiling and exceptionally personable, Sapper Ray had the kind of 'can do' attitude that every commander would want in his soldiers.

In short he was a fine soldier, ideal Sapper and an excellent searcher.

– Major Ben Hawkins, Officer Commanding Operations Squadron, Explosive Ordnance Disposal and Search Task Force

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