THE family of a young soldier who was killed after a tank exploded during one of his training exercises are to take part in a 10 mile running challenge to raise money for a cause close to his heart.

Corporal Matthew Hatfield, 27, served in the Royal Tank Regiment, based in Tidworth, and died following the training accident at Castlemartin in Pembrokeshire, Wales in June.

Now his Mum Fran Chandler and sister Samantha Hatfied, from Ludgershall, have decided to pay tribute to him by running the Simplyhealth Great South Run tomorrow in his memory.

Matthew, who was born and bred in Wiltshire, signed up to be a soldier as soon as he left school at 16. He served in Iraq and Afghanistan before heading to Germany then returning to serve in Tidworth to be closer to his family.

Matthew was a huge supporter of the British Legion and both Fran and Samantha, 24, have decided to raise funds for the charity at the 10 mile running event, which takes place in Portsmouth.

Fran says that taking on the event will be the perfect tribute to Matthew, who always encouraged her to go out for runs to keep herself fit.

The family have also decided to continue the fundraising in the years to come to make sure Matthew’s name and memory lives on.

Fran, 52, said: “It’s awful that he was so young with his whole life ahead of him. He has a five-year-old daughter and explaining to her what has happened will always be very hard.

“I used to enjoy running years ago and then an injury stopped me from continuing but Matthew always wanted me to start again. He was always encouraging me to take part in exercise."

“He was a really positive person and was always looking for a challenge. Losing Matthew has been really hard and in these situations you either sink or swim and if we had sunk he would be so angry with us.

“We decided to sign up to the Simplyhealth Great South Run to do something positive in his name and to make him proud.”

Fran and Samantha will be joined by Matthew’s stepfather Ben Doherty and a group of friends and colleagues to take on the event on Sunday, 22 October.

The team will run for the British Legion as she says that Matthew always spoke highly of the charity.

Fran added: “Matthew was always so proud to serve in the army and was always grateful for the support that he received from the British Legion and wanted to give something back.

“We feel running this event for this charity is our way of doing what he wanted to do."