THE father of a fallen Thurrock war hero spoke this week of the pride he feels for his son, after British troops left Afghanistan after 13 years.

Lance Corporal Nicky Mason, a paratrooper from Aveley, was one of the 453 servicemen and women who died while fighting in the country.

The 26-year-old was killed by an explosion during an operation in Kajaki, in Helmand Province on September 13, 2008.

At the time of his death, Nicky was described by fellow soldiers as an “excellent soldier” with “outstanding warmth and character”.

On Monday, British troops left their Camp Bastion base, in Helmand.

As waves of aircraft left the region, a poll of 1,000 Brits found 68 per cent felt the war had not been worth it.

Nicky’s father, Dennis Mason, 61, who lives in Aveley, believes it’s difficult to say how successful the war has been. He said: “Nicky was a soldier. He was told where to go, whether we agreed or not.

“I’m so upset for all those who died, all 453 of them, and that’s the point to be careful of.

“I maintain that Nicky didn’t give his life for nothing – he was out there for Queen and country.

“I stand by what he did and what he believed in.

“They must have achieved something, there must be some gain from it all.”

Mr Mason described the day he heard about Nicky dying as the worst in his life.

Since then he has worked tirelessly to raise funds and keep Nicky’s name alive through the Lance Corporal Nicky Mason Memorial Fund. He added: “It’s never been the same. My life changed straight away – it’s been a nightmare.

“But Nicky was doing what he had always wanted to do and I stuck by him.

“I now run the charity to keep his name alive – all the soldiers who lost their lives in Afghanistan deserve something like that.”

Just a couple of weeks ago, Mr Mason responded to calls from Graham James Primary School, in Stanfordle- Hope, for help in replacing tools stolen from their shed.

He contributed £100 and has given funds to various other local causes, as well as to serving paratroopers.

*For more information or to support the memorial fund, visit the Lance Corporal Nicky Mason Facebook page.

To leave a tribute to Nicky visit the Thurrock Gazette’s Facebook site or tweet us @thurrockgazette.