Emotional tribute paid by father of Scots soldier who died in training

The father of a fit young Scottish soldier who collapsed and died during an Army exercise has paid an emotional tribute to his son at an inquest, saying “his love lives on”.

Corporal Josh Hoole died while on a training exercise. Picture: SWNS

On the opening day of a hearing into the death of 26-year-old Corporal Joshua Hoole, of 1 Rifles, Phillip Hoole said his son “touched everyone with his zest for life”.

“He was a young man that was going places, with a great future ahead of him,” added the 57-year-old former soldier.

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His son had been carrying 25kg of equipment when he collapsed on a hot day, 400m from the end of the eight-mile annual fitness test course in Brecon, Wales, on 19 July 2016.

In total, 18 out of a total of 41 soldiers dropped out, collapsed or were withdrawn by the course directing staff on the day, including Cpl Hoole.

The inquest also heard there was an allegation an officer, Captain Colin Newfer, may have invited another solider, Lance Corporal George Knight – who collapsed on the march before the fatal incident – to change his and other soldiers’ statements about how he came to be withdrawn.

Senior coroner for Birmingham and Solihull Louise Hunt heard yesterday that an investigation was still ongoing.

Cpl Hoole, of Ecclefechan, Dumfries and Galloway, died three years after three Army reservists suffered fatal heat illness during an SAS selection march in the Brecon Beacons.

A 2017 defence service inquiry report concluded that Cpl Hoole, a “fit, capable and determined” soldier, died as a result of an undiagnosed medical condition, “within the definition of Sudden Arrhythmogenic Death Syndrome”.

Report author Col Jim Taylor had said “he did not die as a direct result of doing the annual fitness test, despite July 19 being a hot day and two other members of the cadre requiring medical treatment for heat illness”.

But that conclusion was rejected by Cpl Hoole’s father who successfully applied for an inquest to be resumed into the death.

Cpl Hoole’s father – who has another son currently serving in the Army – fought back emotion as he said: “He shone his light on all of us.

“Had his life not been extinguished, I am sure that he would have achieved much more.”

He added: “As a son, grandson, brother, friend, peer, leader and mentor or just an acquaintance, he had the ability to make you feel better about your own life.

“His life might have been extinguished but his love lives on in all of us.”

“Always swift and bold - and never forgotten.”

A forensic pathologist told the coroner: “If it is found that heat exertion played a significant role in the death, I would say this was a sudden death associated with heat and exertion.”