20th anniversary of Burnley soldier’s death

Signalman Lee Harper
Signalman Lee Harper

A reunion in memory of a popular Burnley soldier who died in a tragic accident 20 years ago has helped to raise money for charity.

Signalman Lee Harper was just 20-years-old when he fell and fatally banged his head while jumping off the back of an Army Land Rover in the Croatian city of Split in 1995.

Friends, family and former comrades gathered at the Burnley Miners’ Club in Plumbe Street for a reunion to celebrate Lee’s life and raise money for the Help For Heroes charity.

Lee, a telecommunications officer in the Royal Signals, had been serving with the United Nations peace-keeping force in Croatia, at the time caught up in a bloody civil war, when he died during a night out.

Mr Andy Barrett, married to Lee’s twin sister Nicola, said: “The reunion was a bittersweet night for everybody involved.

“Lee’s parents Sean and Pamela attended, as did his sister Nicola and brother Anthony. All the relatives were presented with commemorative gifts organised by Ian Pearson, a corporal in Lee’s regiment, and lads who served with Lee and trained at Catterick with him.

“It was nice to remember Lee 20 years after his death but still obviously very sad for everyone who knew him.

“We had a raffle and auction which included prizes donated by friends and colleagues of mine at Harry Garlick’s in Burnley.

“I would also like to thank Mark of Anthems Audio based in Colne who DJ’ed for free on the night which helped to raise £1,150 towards the Help For Heroes charity.”

Lee, who lived in Waterbarn Street, was a former Barden High School pupil.

Silent crowds gathered outside St Andrew’s Church in Burnley for his funeral which was attended by many of his former Army comrades in April, 1995.