Gunner Lee's stamp image

A BLACKPOOL war hero has been remembered on a set of stamps which is on display in London.

The face of tragic soldier Lee Thornton, who was killed in action while serving in Iraq in September 2006, will adorn the collection at the Imperial War Museum.

Gunner Thornton's parents joined dozens of other grieving relatives for the launch of the permanent collection by renowned artist Steve McQueen.

Karen and Mick Thornton, from Marton, gave consent for their son's image to be used on the stamp as a way of remembering Lee, who died just 24 hours after his best friend was killed near Basra last year.

It is hoped that the stamp collection could one day be commissioned by Royal Mail and a campaign to bring this to fruition has already received support from all the families involved.

Until then, the Queen and Country collection can be seen at the Imperial War Museum in London until January 8 and viewed on the internet.

Karen, 44, said: "I heard about the collection and immediately wanted Lee's image to be a part of it. I am sure it is what he would have wanted too.

"I can't think of a more fitting memorial to the memory of Lee than seeing his face on stamps which will be seen by millions of people in the UK. This is just a brilliant cause and one well worth supporting.

"We went down to London to meet the artist and some of the other families involved and we all shared the same hope that one day the stamps will be commissioned and used by millions of people. It is an honour to have our son in the collection."

The 22-year-old was fatally wounded as his patrol came under fire close to the southern city of Basra on September 5, this year.

The former Palatine High School student died of his injuries in a German military hospital two days later surrounded by his parents and fiance Helen O'Pray. The couple were due to marry in August 2008.

At the start of the Queen and Country project, 115 families were asked to participate and 98 agreed; 39 more have been added. Since allied forces entered Iraq in March 2003, 174 British service personnel have died.