THE mother of a former soldier from Chester killed in a suicide bomb blast in Afghanistan has paid tribute to her son, describing him as a ‘loving, caring family man who would do anything for anyone’.
Simon Chase, a former Bishops’ Blue Coat CE High School pupil, originally from Blacon, was one of two British nationals killed in a suicide bomb and gun attack at a Kabul restaurant on Friday night.
The popular father of two, known as ‘Si’, leaves behind two sons and partner Norma McDowell, with whom he lived in the town of Limavady, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland.
Mr Chase’s devastated mother Mary-Ann Chase, from Wordsworth Crescent, Blacon, told how her son joined the Cheshire Regiment aged 18 and how he had “lived for the army”.
Mr Chase, who was in his early 40s, was working as a member of the security personnel in Afghanistan at the time of his death.
Mrs Chase said: “Simon was such a character, popular, well respected and loved by all who knew him. He was a loving, caring family man to his partner and two children.
“Simon was a private man who did not like a fuss, but if he saw somebody getting hurt he would be the first there to help; that is the way he was. Simon’s death has left a very big hole in people’s lives, a hole that can never be filled.”
Mrs Chase said her son’s funeral will be held in Northern Ireland.
“It was Simon’s wish to be close to his boys in Ireland, and he wanted to be buried in British soil,” Mrs Chase added.
A number of Mr Chase’s childhood friends have recalled their fondest memories of their time together growing up on the Blacon estate, and social media sites have been flooded with messages of condolence for Mr Chase’s family.
Friend Warren Barnett grew up in Blacon with Simon and would play football and attend boxing clubs with him.
He said: “Simon was a lovely lad, full of character. He had a lot of friends in the same circle from the time we were growing up and we are all devastated at the news.”
Warren also recalled on his facebook site: “I remember when Si Chase joined us at boxing club at Blacon High School when I was about 14. He was enormous compared to me back then. Spike and Keith Manley put me in to spar with him and he destroyed me in 30 seconds with a left, a right and another right. He helped me realise I had no future as a professional boxer.
“He was a nice lad. I will always remember him sticking up for me in the adventure playground against two lads much older than us. We shared some good memories.”
Mr Chase, was working as a close protection officer for the EU mission in Afghanistan, the Sunday Telegraph said, and died as he tried to protect a female Danish police officer, who was also killed.
He had worked as a nightclub doorman in Limavady before travelling to Kabul for work.
The mayor of Limavady, Gerry Mullan offered his condolences to Mr Chase’s family, saying he was “well-known and well-respected” in the local community.
The blast occurred at the Taverna du Liban restaurant, which is popular with tourists and westerners.
The suicide attacker detonated his explosives outside the gate of the heavily fortified restaurant, the deputy interior minister Mohammad Ayoub Salangi said.
Two gunmen entered the restaurant by a back door and started shooting. It is believed they were shot dead by security forces when they arrived at the scene.
The suicide attack also claimed the life of Del Singh, a Labour Party MEP candidate for the South East.
Carl Johnson, 43, formerly of Blacon, but now living Penymynydd, Flintshire, who was friends with Mr Chase since childhood, said: “It was such a shock to hear the news about Simon. He would help anyone he could. In later life we became friends again through social media; we shared a lot of banter about football.
“He was a truly great guy. He had a big heart for such a lion of a man. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”