Matthew Hatfield

TRIBUTES have been paid by family, friends, colleagues and sporting team mates of army corporal Matthew Hatfield who died after an accident during a training exercise in Wales last Wednesday.

He was one of two members of The Royal Tank Regiment based at Tidworth to die following the accident at Castlemartin, Pembrokeshire in Wales.

Cpl Hatfield, 27, who grew up in Everleigh and went to primary school in Collingbourne Ducis and then Pewsey Vale School joined the army aged 16.

During his training at Bovington he won the prize for the best cadet. This week his mum Frances Chandler told her her son had always wanted to join the army and loved his career.

She said: "He was true friend to people and very kind. I have been overwhelmed by the support of so many people. It maybe sounds as if it is all too good to be true but he genuinely was perfect."

His fiancee Jill McBride called him her soulmate and said he was her world.

Cpl Hatfield, who lived with Miss McBride in Amesbury, joined army cadets in Marlborough as a boy and was also a keen swimmer for Pewsey and Tidworth. He played rugby for Devizes and cricket for Collingbourne.

This week Collingbourne first team captain David Malley said: "Collingbourne CC’s match against top-of-the-table White Horse was overshadowed by the sad news that Matthew Hatfield – player, friend and son of Collingbourne Cricket Club – tragically lost his life last week whilst on exercise in Wales.

"An enthusiastic and popular member of the team, Matt first played for Collingbourne as part of the youth team at the age of 11, and this season marked his return to the club after moving back to the area.

"He played his last game for Collingbourne in May and will be sorely missed by all at the club and the wider community. A minute’s silence was observed by both teams before the match, and black arm bands were worn by the Collingbourne players in memory of their team mate as they looked to build on last week’s first victory of the season."

Lieutenant Colonel Simon Ridgway, Commanding Officer of The Royal Tank Regiment, said after the death of Cpl Hatfield and Cpl Darren Neilson: "They were both exceptionally talented soldiers who loved what they did. The Regiment has lost two real characters and feels truly honoured to have served with them; they will both be sorely missed."

A full military funeral will be held for Cpl Hatfield at the regiment's base in Tidworth on a date yet to be set. Cpl Hatfield also leaves a younger sister Samantha, his father Karl Hatfield and was devoted to his young child.