Southam man left broken by brother’s death in Afghanistan determined to join regiment in his honour

Fin and JJ. Photo submitted.
Fin and JJ. Photo submitted.

A man left broken by his brother’s death in Afghanistan has decided to join the Parachute Regiment in his honour.

Fin Doherty’s world was rocked when his brother, Jeff known to his family and friends as JJ, was ambushed just two days before his 20th birthday.

JJ in the Parachute Regiment. Photo submitted.

JJ in the Parachute Regiment. Photo submitted.

His family, who are from Southam, were left fighting their own battle with grief, making it through with the help of childhood bereavement charity Winston’s Wish.

The BBC has followed their journey, alongside three other families, in a powerful documentary due to air this Monday. It is the first time the charity has allowed cameras to follow their expert therapists as they work with military families.

In the 30 minute one-off show, JJ’s mum, Joyce Doherty remembers her son as the “life and soul of everything”, who was “everybody’s friend”.

After passing the gruelling selection programme Jeff was able to follow his life-long dream of joining the prestigious Parachute Regiment, or Paras.

JJ with Fin and sister Shanna. Photo submitted.

JJ with Fin and sister Shanna. Photo submitted.

“There was never anything else, nothing else was an option, it was the parachute regiment or nothing,” his mum said. “He knew they were the best of the best and that’s who he wanted to be.”

He was shot, along with another solider, during a patrol in Afghanistan, leaving his family broken.

“I didn’t know how I was going to get through the next hour, let alone the next day. I was absolutely heartbroken,” Joyce said.

Fin, just six at the time, was hit badly.

“Whenever he was home he was always making a fuss of me, there were always good times - no bad times,” he said. “We were always misbehaving and messing about. He was the big brother who I loved, he loved me and I knew I was loved from a young age.”

But after JJ’s death, Fin was left with a bubbling anger.

“I was ready to fight anybody at any time,” he says in the BBC documentary. “You could say hello and I’d shout at you. I wasn’t just doing it outside the house, but inside the house as well. We’d be sitting in the living room and nobody would speak to me because they were worried about how I’d react.”

The family received help from Winston’s Wish, who support children and young people after the death of a parent or sibling, including military families thanks to funding from Help for Heroes.

Now, Fin is aiming his sites on wearing the Para’s iconic maroon beret.

“I couldn’t think of a better job than doing something that I think matters, especially for something my brother laid down his life for,” he said. “To wear that maroon cap, there’s no greater pride.

“I’d rather have what happened to him happen to me at the same age than live to 100 and never do it because that pride of being a paratrooper is everything.

“There’s nothing more in this world that I want, and that’s the mentality you’ve got to have.

“I’d love more than anything in the world to wear my brother’s beret.”

The Inside Out West documentary will air on BBC One West at 7.30pm on Monday and will be available afterwards on BBC iPlayer.