Hero of the month… Corporal Tony Sutcliffe 1975-2019

2021-10-01

Corporal Tony Sutcliffe was the life and soul of every party. He was a doting father, fitness enthusiast, music lover, and respected colleague. Joining the Marines at 40 Commando was a dream come true for Tony, who caught the military bug while in the Combined Cadet Force. He spent 12 years doing a job he loved. But on 12th April 2019, Tony aged 44, took his own life. His daughter, Lyra, was just seven years old.

This month, Scotty’s Little Soldiers is paying tribute to Lyra’s father and best friend, who died two years ago by suicide, after a long battle with PTSD. Since Tony’s death, Lyra has been supported by Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved Forces children and young people, which will continue supporting and reminding her that she is never alone.

Corporal Tony Sutcliffe

Tony’s wife, Kate (39) said: “Tony was the most amazing father, friend and colleague you could ask for. He doted on his family and was an incredible dad to our daughter. He was amazing fun to be around, he kept everybody entertained and was super sociable. Fitness was his absolute passion, he was always doing core workouts, lifting weights, on his mountain bike, or hiking on Baildon Moor. Much to the dismay of everyone around him, there wasn’t an ounce of fat to be seen on his body.

“Tony had many loves in his life, his family, festivals, friends… and Oasis. He loved nothing more than going to gigs with mates and listening to his favourite bands. If there was an Oasis gig on, no matter what day it was, he’d be there. He’d listen to them non-stop, and even had hair like Noel.”

On 30th March 2012, Kate and Tony’s daughter, Lyra was born. Kate described the day: “Welcoming Lyra into the world was one of the best days of our lives. When Lyra was born it was like a paternal switch had flicked in his head. He was the best dad you could have ever imagined. He did everything he could for her and wanted nothing more than to watch her grow up.

“From the very beginning, Tony and Lyra were inseparable, and she was by far his greatest achievement. While kids’ birthday parties were filled with mums, Tony would be there, sat right beside Lyra. When he was home from rotation, he’d do everything from picking her up from school, brushing her hair, teaching her climbing, and instilling his music taste into her. He was a truly amazing dad.

Tony and Lyra

“Nowadays Lyra loves nothing more than listening to Oasis, The Stone Roses, and Led Zeppelin, she even wanted her middle name changing to include ‘Liam’ and ‘Noel’.”

In October 2017, when Lyra was five years old, Tony and Kate wed in West Yorkshire with 90 guests, including their nearest and dearest.

Kate commented: “Our wedding day is my favourite memory from my relationship with Tony, it was perfect, and having Lyra there only made it the more special. In true Tony style, he wore leopard print shoes, while Lyra and I wore matching white dresses with blue dye at the bottom. The day was so much fun, and Lyra was involved as much as possible, which was incredibly important to Tony and I.”

Just two short years later, following many challenges, Tony’s long-term struggle with PTSD came to an end when he took his own life, leaving behind his young daughter who was just seven years old at the time.

Kate explained: “Tony had been suffering with PTSD for many years since leaving the military but struggled to open up about it.

Lyra as a baby with her dad

“He had so much built-up anger from the tours he did and suffered severe survivor’s guilt after a friend and colleague died in action whilst he was away in Dubai. The PTSD caused terrible night terrors which continually disturbed his sleep. In the end it all got too much and on the 12th April 2019 he took his own life at home.”

For Lyra and Kate, the following months were a whirlwind of distress, relying on their closest friends and family to help keep them together.

Kate continued: “The pain we felt in the following months after Tony’s passing was indescribable. Lyra was such a daddy’s girl, so to imagine them never together again was absolutely heart breaking.”

Since the death of her dad, Lyra has been supported by Scotty’s Little Soldiers. Kate explained: “In 2020 Lyra joined Scotty’s and whenever she hears from them, her eyes light up. They’ve been a huge support to us, supporting her emotionally and helping put that loveable smile back on her face.

Tony and Lyra enjoying their walks

“On the whole Lyra has coped okay, which I’m so proud of her for, but she does sometimes suffer from night terrors and is hyper aware of me doing anything dangerous, for the fear of losing me as well.

“Scotty’s had been incredible in helping Lyra through her grief. We’ve also been lucky enough to go on two Center Parcs holidays. Each time on the trips, Lyra has had the most amazing holiday, trying tennis, roller skating, and pottery painting for the first time, all of which she absolutely loved.

“Every so often Lyra panics that she is forgetting key things about her daddy. When looking back at old photos of him, she once forgot that he had tattoos, which really upset her. That’s one reason the Scotty breaks are so important, they provide the opportunity to take a moment from our busy lives and spend quality time chatting about her daddy, which helps keep Lyra’s memory of him alive.

“Whenever we’re away on a Scotty’s trip, Lyra makes sure to pack her Scotty T-shirt, and wears it so proudly. Scotty’s is so much more than a charity to us, it’s our sense of belonging.”

Lyra remembering her father

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