Teenager seeks to join Paras to honour tragic older brother

Fin Doherty Credit: BBC/PA Wire

A teenager left broken by his brother’s death in Afghanistan has decided to join the Parachute Regiment in his honour.

Fin Doherty’s world was rocked when his brother Jeff – known to his family and friends as JJ – was ambushed just two days before his 20th birthday in June 2008.

His family were left fighting their own battle with grief, and enlisted the help of Cheltenham-based childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish.

The BBC has followed their journey, alongside three other families, in a powerful documentary due to air this Monday.

It is the first time the charity has allowed cameras to follow their expert therapists as they work with military families.

In the 30 minute one-off show, JJ’s mum Joyce Doherty remembers her son as the “life and soul of everything” who was “everybody’s friend”.

After passing the gruelling selection programme Jeff was able to follow his life-long dream of joining 2nd Battalion The Parachute.

“There was never anything else, nothing else was an option, it was the Parachute Regiment or nothing,” Mrs Doherty said.

JJ was shot dead in patrol in Afghanistan in 2008 Credit: BBC/PA wire

“He knew they were the best of the best and that’s who he wanted to be.”

The private was shot, along with another solider, during a patrol in Afghanistan, leaving his family broken.

“I didn’t know how I was going to get through the next hour, let alone the next day. I was absolutely heartbroken,” Mrs Doherty, from Warwickshire, said.

Fin was helped through his grief by the Winston’s Wish charity Credit: BBC/PA Wire

Fin, who was just six at the time, was badly affected by his brother’s death.

“Whenever he was home he was always making a fuss of me, there were always good times – no bad times,” he said.

“We were always misbehaving and messing about. He was the big brother who I loved, he loved me and I knew I was loved from a young age.”

But after JJ’s death, Fin was left with a bubbling anger.

“I was ready to fight anybody at any time,” he said.

“You could say hello and I’d shout at you. I wasn’t just doing it outside the house, but inside the house as well.

“We’d be sitting in the living room and nobody would speak to me because they were worried about how I’d react.”

Fin said it is his dearest wish to wear his brother’s maroon beret Credit: BBC/PA wire

The family received help from Winston’s Wish, who support children and young people after the death of a parent or sibling, including military families thanks to funding from Help for Heroes.

Now, Fin is aiming his sights on wearing the Parachute Regiment’s iconic maroon beret.

“I couldn’t think of a better job than doing something that I think matters, especially for something my brother laid down his life for,” he said.

“To wear that maroon cap, there’s no greater pride.

“I’d rather have what happened to him happen to me at the same age than live to 100 and never do it because that pride of being a paratrooper is everything.

“There’s nothing more in this world that I want, and that’s the mentality you’ve got to have.

“I’d love more than anything in the world to wear my brother’s beret.”

– The Inside Out West documentary will air on BBC One West at 7.30pm on Monday and will be available afterwards on BBC iPlayer.