THE mum of a Flintshire soldier killed in battle has described how being given a portrait of him was like “having him home again”.
Shirley Price, of Calcoed Lane, Holywell, said getting the image of her son Alan Cochran, who was shot dead in an ambush in 2010 while serving in Afghanistan, helped her to move on from her grief.
The painting was produced by Connah’s Quay artist Caro, who has produced portraits of brave soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq as part of her ‘23 Seconds’ art project.
Mrs Price said that being given the portrait was life- changing.
“When she gave me the picture, it made me cry”, she said.
“It’s like having a photo you never knew you had – it’s like he’s home.
“He watches me all the time and it’s like he’s protecting me again – just like he did before.”
Lance Corporal Cochran of the 1st Battalion The Mercian Regiment (Cheshire) was 23 when he was fatally wounded by a sniper while patrolling near a Taliban stronghold in Nahr-e Saraj in Helmand Province.
Mrs Price said Caro approached her last year with the hope of creating a portrait.
“She said she wanted to do Alan first because that’s where her inspiration came from. But it took her some time to find me,” she said.
“She’s just fantastic and they’re so life-like. Alan was as big as life, and he protected us all.”
The artist, who goes by the pseudonym Caro, recently held her first exhibition of her emotive portraits in Scotland, in which she included personal items such as berets, medals and letters from family members and friends alongside the paintings.
It was held at Fort George in Inverness, which was playing host to the Army Highland Games.
Caro said the project aimed to give the families a chance to tell the public the story of their son behind the headlines.
She said: “This was really very personal to the families of the fallen, some of whom were able to attend and hear first-hand stories about their sons and daughters from
the soldiers who served alongside them.”
Caro said the name of her exhibit – 23 Seconds - was a statement about how military deaths are covered in the news media.
“Just 23 seconds is the average time it takes a British news channel to report the death of a soldier is killed in action,” she said.
“Unless the death of a soldier directly affects somebody, it goes largely unnoticed by them.”
She added: “The exhibition was held in the spirit of a celebration rather than a downbeat event and this proved to be a very uplifting experience for the families and also for the soldiers who served with them.
“For some of them it was the first time that they had had the opportunity to come together and share stories and memories.
“At the end of the exhibition each mother is presented with the framed portrait of their son and get’s to take them home.
“The impact that this handover is having on the mothers is tremendous.”
Now the Quay Watermens Association, based in Connah’s Quay, have offered her exhibition space at the old sea cadets building, which they are turning into a heritage centre.