A LIVING memorial has been unveiled to a much-loved soldier who was killed in Afghanistan.

Lance Corporal Scott Hardy, of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Anglian Regiment, died in an explosion in the Helmand province in March.

On Saturday, his family and friends dedicated a hornbeam tree in the grounds of Chelmsford Cathedral to the 26-year-old soldier.

They fixed a plaque at the foot of the tree, paid for by the cathedral.

It reads “In memory of our hero, Lance Corporal Scott Hardy 06/06/83 – 16/03/2010.”

Girlfriend Charlene Byrne, 25, of Avon Road, Chelmsford, said: “I would like to thank everyone who helped get the plaque together and who have been watering the tree.

“It’s somewhere anyone can go and reflect.

“There were so many people at the funeral who didn’t know Scott, but who lined the streets for him.

“This is somewhere they can go to pay their respects.”

A cathedral spokesman said: “A military funeral for Lance Corporal Scott Hardy was held in the cathedral in April and the cathedral was very pleased to support the planting of a tree in his memory in the grounds.

“It is very appropriate there should be a plaque next to the tree, for those who pass by, which commemorates Scott. The cathedral was very happy to help enable the plaque to be made and positioned.”

Charlene and Scott had been together for nine-and-a-half years when he died.

They met when they were both at school, she at St John Payne and he at Boswells.

He had planned to propose to her on his return from duty.

Charlene has set up a foundation in Scott’s name to support families of those who have died in the service of their country, A fundraiser at the Gardeners pub, in Forsythia Close, Springfield, on Sunday raised more than £70 for the campaign.