AS the fifth anniversary of his tragic death in Afghanistan draws near, friends of a Bromsgrove soldier are going to great lengths to honour his memory.

Private Robert Laws, aged 18, of the 2nd Battalion The Mercian Regiment, died when a grenade penetrated his Spartan vehicle during Operation Panchai Palang, known as Panther's Claw.

Pte Laws – known as Robbie, from Rock Hill, was inside the Spartan vehicle when it was struck by the grenade at about 5pm on July 4, 2009.

A verdict of unlawful killing while on active service in Afghanistan for Pte Laws was recorded.

As his fifth anniversary approaches, a group of 15 old school friends decided they want to do something special to mark the occasion, to honour his memory, and to raise money for the Help for Heroes charity.

The group will be cycling from London to Paris and have been busy fundraising over the last few months for the event, which will see them covering 200 miles in three days.

Friend Will Brazier said: "We have decided to do the ride to mark the fifth anniversary of Robbie's death. We’ve always been supportive of his mum’s fundraising efforts for Help for Heroes and wanted to further show that by taking on this challenge.

"The work the charity does is amazing in rehabilitating injured solders both physically and mentally. We hope that the money we raise can help make a difference in the future. The ride itself will take three days, the first is 70 miles from London to Newhaven, where will catch an overnight ferry. The second day is 90 miles, then on the final day we ride into Paris.

"We’ve organised everything ourselves from the route, equipment and the logistical side. We are also fortunate to have some parents coming along in the support van to assist us."

Robbie's mum Wendy Laws said: "I am so very proud of them all and what they are doing in Rob's name. And I know he would have been too. It's just brilliant.

"They have organised this all themselves, trained really hard, and raised funds through lots of different ways, including supermarket collections and bag packs."

Mrs Laws has fundraised for Help for Heroes for several years following her son's death and to date, without the money from the cycle ride, her and her family have raised a superb total of £40,163 and continue to raise more all the time.

Mrs Laws said: "I would like to thank everyone who gives so generously. Without people like you, we could never have raised this much. There is still lot of support in Bromsgrove and we are so very grateful for that."

People can donate at