The mother of a British soldier killed by dissident republicans has told fellow victims how her son’s words have helped her family learn to live with loss.
Patrick Azimkar’s mother Geraldine said his murder 10 years ago had utterly broken her, husband Mehmet and their other son James.
Royal Engineer Sapper Azimkar, 21, from London, was shot dead by Real IRA gunmen outside Massereene army barracks in Antrim in March 2009 as he and comrades went to collect a pizza delivery at the gate as they waited for a flight ahead of deployment to Afghanistan.
Sapper Mark Quinsey, 23, from Birmingham, was also killed in the outrage.
Geraldine Ferguson addressed a gathering of bereaved and injured in Belfast on Monday to mark European Day for Victims of Terrorism.
She outlined how her family had grappled with a wide range of grief-induced emotions over the last decade, including shock, disbelief, horror, anger, rage and bitterness.
“Horror overwhelmed us,” she told the event at Stormont.
“We were utterly broken in heart and mind.
“We still don’t know why Patrick was murdered and no one else seems to know either.
“Some people, they try to explain it away as political, but when it is your child that’s murdered it’s not political, it’s personal.
“In the end the only way for us to understand that attack is that it was a carefully planned and deliberate act of evil.”
Mrs Ferguson revealed that while home in England on leave months before his murder, her son had told the family that if he was killed in Afghanistan they were not to mope or be soppy, and instead to get on with their lives.
“In our darkest days those simple words were like a beam of light in pitch black,” she said.
“We would remind myself and each other – Pat wants us to live and that means to look up and look out into the world.”
She added: “I think we have learned to live alongside our loss and the injustice we suffered and not be overwhelmed by them.
“It took courage for us to live fully and enjoy our lives, but it’s what Patrick wanted and really it’s the only way to live and, besides, perhaps living a full life and a loving life is the best revenge of all.
“We are very proud of Patrick, how he lived his life and behind him he leaves a legacy of love.
“In Patrick’s name and in his memory so many good things have been said and done by so many good people in many countries around the world. They all matter. They make the world a better place.”
Mrs Ferguson said three of her son’s friends have given their children Patrick as a middle name.
“I know our Patrick would be very proud of that,” she said.
The event at Stormont, which was hosted by Traditional Unionist Voice leader Jim Allister, came as Northern Ireland’s victims commissioner Judith Thompson published a series of recommendations on how to deal with the toxic legacy of the Troubles following a public consultation on Government proposals for new mechanisms.