In memory of Lt Neal Turkington
15 July 2010
Imperial staff, students and alumni reacted with sadness this week as news emerged of the death of engineering alumnus Lieutenant Neal Turkington in Afghanistan.
Twenty six year old Neal, who graduated with an MEng in Civil Engineering in 2007, is one of three soldiers who died on Tuesday after an attack by a member of the Afghan National Army. Recalling him as “a cheerful, humorous and loyal companion to his peers,” Professor David Nethercot, Head of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, said:
“We are devastated by Neal’s death. He engaged in all College activity with dedication and integrity. He was particularly passionate about using his technical skills in support of others, as reflected in his involvement in expeditions to provide basic infrastructure to the poor in Nepal and El Salvador.
“He was an outstanding young man, of exceptional potential and of a rare attitude and civility. The thoughts and sympathies of everyone in the department are with his family at this tragic time.”
He was an outstanding young man, of exceptional potential and of a rare attitude and civility”
One major project Neal was involved in during his time at Imperial was the El Salvador Project, set up by Imperial students in 2002 to help poor communities build schools, homes, latrines and other vital infrastructure. Writing in the student newspaper Felix in 2006, he recalled taking part in projects including the expansion of a school and nursery, a radio station and the creation of compost latrines. Urging other students to get involved, he also described “tourist excursions that you would never get out of a guidebook, from Mayan ruins to the beach, and talking to some of the most interesting people you are ever likely to meet.”
Always intent on a military career, Neal joined Imperial from Welbeck Defence 6th Form College. After graduating, he went straight to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and joined the 1st Battalion The Royal Gurkha Rifles in August 2008. Before serving in Afghanistan as a junior commander and leader, he spent periods in places including Brunei and Nepal. Describing him as “a man who could be trusted”, his Commanding Officer Lieutenant Colonel Gerald Strickland said this week:
“I could not have asked for a better officer. Since arriving in Afghanistan, he had been involved in some of the fiercest fighting in our area, but he took it all in his stride, never daunted by what he faced, but always spreading a quiet confidence amongst his men.”
His family also paid tribute to him, saying:
“One of Neal’s proudest moments was hearing that he had been commissioned to join the Royal Gurkha Rifles Regiment.
“He felt honoured and privileged to serve with such distinguished, courageous and loyal men.
“Neal was jovial, kind, considerate and loyal to his family and friends. Our family were inspired by his presence, and generosity.
“He was relentless and steadfast in his pursuit of those causes he believed in with his passion for making a difference whatever the circumstance.”
— Abigail Smith, Communications
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