Yvonne Henchliffe issues incredibly powerful victim impact statement

Yvonne Henchliffe with Chris Henchliffe. Picture supplied by Yvonne Henchliffe.
Yvonne Henchliffe with Chris Henchliffe. Picture supplied by Yvonne Henchliffe.

Chris always gave our family inspiration. During his time in the Army, Chris saw his friends killed in Afghanistan - the Warrior six. There were two tank drivers that day - one was Chris but he was delayed from his company in Camp Bastion so it was the other driver who went out. Their tank ran over a landmine and blew up; they all burned to death. This was the beginning of Chris' tour and he still had six months to serve. He carried on, as they all did. So strong and brave. I could tell 20 such stories about Chris.

When Chris was hit during this incident last year, he was put into a coma and moved to a hospital in Sheffield. Where Chris slept, we slept - his brothers, his sister, his nana and granddad and more. The hospital told us at first that he would live. I quit my job of ten years to be Chris' carer as we knew he was going to be severely brain damaged.

But then Chris died. Maybe God gave him a choice? If we know Chris, who has run marathons with the Marines, we know what he would have chosen.

Chris took a lot of hours to die when his life support machine was switched off - his body fought so hard. We never left his side. I remember I'd popped out and came back in to him. The family were having breaks because we were falling asleep at his bedside. None of us had slept for days. I stood at the door and watched his brothers and sister, washing his mouth, wiping his eyes, crying, praying. We did all his care in the end. I felt so proud of my little nest.

When Chris finally lost his fight, I slept with him for a few hours. I prayed so hard to God to take me instead. My children and my parents struggled but we supported each other so much yet not one of us could console each other. It was just too painful. My dad had a heart attack. He still goes to maintain Chris' grave every Saturday with my mum. Chris adored his nana and granddad and at least once a week he would go for a run and always call in for food and a game of snooker.

My daughter has been through such a traumatic time, but she has since passed some major exams and also stands strong and proud. Both of my sons have struggled badly too - one served in Afghanistan with Chris and shared that bond. But with support and Chris' memory they have also turned it around, got jobs and sorted themselves out. I did too because the Government decided I had grieved long enough and I would no longer be entitled to my £70 each week. I'm now a support worker for people with autism, challenging behaviour and other complex needs. I feel I am giving back now. I know Chris would be proud.

Chris’ son is autistic - he’s six-years-old and painfully the double of his daddy. He will always know what an amazing young man his daddy was. His daddy had travelled the world and had seen things we can never imagine - he was only 26-years-old and still had so much to give.

The statement is to tell you about the pain. Well pain is when you have to decide on the options of how to dispose of your son's brain. Because of both autopsies my baby's brain was sent to London. Pain is when you finally get your son's body to the funeral home and it's so decomposed he only got one day to wear his new suit. I had to stop my family going to see Chris because he was leaking. I still went until I was implored by the staff to stop, then I carried on when they had put the coffin lid on. That's pain. Pain is when I knelt down in the cemetery and put his ashes into the ground. Pain is waking up every day and knowing my beautiful son will never give me his cheeky smile again. Pain was Christmas morning - the whole family sat at Chris' grave with flasks and bacon butties. Our lives will never be the same - we have had to reinvent ourselves to carry on.

And through our memory of Chris, we will succeed. I won't lie - every day I don't go to work, I cry and it hurts like acid on my heart. Chris was the fun in our lives, the spirit, the push to succeed when we needed something positive. I would give my life right now to give my family back the greatest man in our lives. We revolved around him.

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