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Family describe training death soldier’s pride in Army

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By Fiona Reid
Annan and Eskdale
Family describe training death soldier's pride in Army

FAMILY members of a soldier who died while training have spoken of their devastation as they come to terms with the tragedy.

Corporal Josh Hoole, 26 — pictured above — originally from Ecclefechan, died on Tuesday as he completed a run and fitness tests as part of his work towards becoming a platoon sergeant.

Emergency services were called to Dering Lines infantry training centre in Brecon, Wales but were unable to save him.

His ex-Army grandfather Jack Craig, of Ecclefechan, who himself spent time at the Welsh centre during his military career, said: “It has been a terrible shock which we are all slowly trying to take in.

“I know for certain that Josh was following a career he loved and at which he was doing very well.”

Josh, who served in 1st Battalion The Rifles, and his brother Ty, 27, who was in 3rd Battalion of the same regiment, were very close.

And Josh was due to be best man at Ty’s wedding to partner Carey Taylor, from Lockerbie, which is due to take place in Edinburgh on July 30.

josh 2
PLANNED TO WED . . . Josh and partner Rachael McKie

Meanwhile, Josh and partner Rachael McKie, with whom he shared a house in Dumfries, were planning to wed next year.

“Josh was a fantastic soldier and after completing two tours in Afghanistan volunteered for another tour in Iraq,” said Jack, who after retiring from the Army was sergeant-major of the local Army Cadet Force.

He said he and other family members were surprised by the level of national media coverage of the tragedy.

Jack stated that both Carey and Rachael did not wish to comment on comparisons being made with previous deaths in hot weather in the Brecon Beacons training area.

He said: “We are letting matters take their course and we will make a judgement when all the full facts are known.”

Sharing that view, Josh’s aunt Morag Craig, also of Ecclefechan, denied reports that she was ‘demanding’ an inquiry.

Josh’s mother Jackie McMichael also lives in the village and his father Phil Hoole, a former sergeant-major in the Devonshire and Dorsetshire Regiment, is in Carlisle.  Josh and Ty have a half sister in Northern Ireland.

Stunned by her devastating loss Rachael spoke warmly of her life with Josh.

She recalled his fondness of pets, in particular their two cats, and how he recently ‘out of the blue’ bought her a Miniature Dachshund for her birthday which she will greatly treasure.

Family and friends described Josh as a model soldier with great pride in his family, Army and the UK.

They also spoke of his friendly and helpful nature and how he would complete jobs to help family and friends when on leave.  He was a football enthusiast and a Glasgow Rangers fan.

Jack Craig
PRIDE . . . Jack Craig with a treasured picture of his grandsons

Most recently stationed at Chepstow Barracks, his previous base was at Catterick where he spent a spell as a recruits instructor.

After leaving Lockerbie Academy, he completed his apprenticeship as a joiner before continuing his family’s Army tradition.

UK Defence Minister Mike Penning expressed ‘great sadness.’

He said: “The safety of our personnel is our absolute priority and, while deaths in training are rare, any death is a tragedy.

“As well as a police investigation, a Service Inquiry will take place. My thoughts and prayers are with the soldier’s family, friends and colleagues at this difficult time.”

Local force Dyfed-Powys Police are working with the Army and a spokesman said: “HM Coroner has been informed.”

Plans for Josh’s funeral, which will be held locally, are still being finalised, but it is expected to be a military ceremony.

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