His brother paid the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan but Christopher Kirkness passed out from his army training and said he wanted to make his sibling, David, proud.
Their mother Maggie Kirkness proudly hugged Christopher as he graduated and when she was asked if she had mixed emotions about the day she simply said her job was to support her son because its “what mums do”.
Lance Corporal David Kirkness, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, was killed in December 2009 trying to protect Afghan citizens from a suicide bomber at a marketplace in Helmand.
The 24-year-old, from Morley, Leeds, was killed alongside another soldier while on a security patrol.
His brother Christopher joined more than 400 soldiers on the parade ground at Uniacke Barracks in front of thousands of their relatives and friends as they graduated from the Army Foundation College in Harrogate and then headed home for Christmas.
Following the emotional parade, Christopher said he hoped to make his brother proud.
“I always wanted to be a soldier, ever since I was a little boy,” he said.
“We used to play with toy soldiers from when we were young.
“I do have a desire to make my brother proud.
“He was always a joker my brother, but when he joined the army all his mates told me how seriously he took it all. They all said he was incredibly professional.
“Hopefully I can be as good as him.” Mrs Kirkness said: “The education he has had in the army has just been brilliant. I’m so proud.
“I kept thinking how much he looks like David. It’s two days until his anniversary.”
When asked if she was scared or had any trepidations about her son following his brother into the army, Mrs Kirkness said: “It is what he wants, my job is just to be there to support him, that is what mums do.”
The parade of seventeen-year-old students was the college’s final winter intake to pass out.