By Bejay Browne
A PAPHOS businessman was so appalled by the recent brutal murder of a British soldier in the UK that he has set up a worldwide social media campaign which he hopes will unite the public in a show of solidarity.
Laurence Doughty, originally from Redditch in central England, has never served in the armed forces but says that he was so shocked by the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in John Wilson Street in Woolwich on May 22, that he wanted to do something to “enable everyone to stand together against such acts of violence and show their support”.
The idea has already spread to numerous countries. The British expat began posting on his Facebook page to encourage people to wear an item from the armed forces charity, Help for Heroes, on the day of Rigby’s funeral.
The 25-year-old serving soldier of the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers was hit by a car and then hacked to death by two men who got out of the vehicle and attacked him with knives and meat cleavers. Both of the suspected killers, Michael Adebolajo, 28, and Michael Adebowale, 22, were Nigerian-born Islamic radicals.
Rigby was wearing a ‘Help for Heroes’ top at the time of his death and Doughty says this gave him the idea of organising a peaceful, non-political event to be held on the same day as the soldier’s funeral, for which a date has not yet been set.
“I wanted to show that it’s about time that we stood up to these kinds of acts. We have to not let something as horrific as this ever happen again. The callousness of this act has really affected me,” Doughty said. “We have to live side by side peacefully, allowing each other our different views. We will stand against terror of any kind.
An anti Islamic backlash mustn’t happen, that is very important. What I’m trying to do is non political and peaceful and everyone is welcome to join in.”
The death of Rigby, a father of one, has sparked a huge outpouring of public grief in Britain.
According to the Paphos resident, loads of people are already getting involved and the campaign has already spread to Australia, Spain and America.
Doughty and his helpers have been in contact with Help for Heroes or H4H, a non political organisation that seeks to help those who serve or have served in the armed forces.
Their website crashed due to the enormous outpouring of support for the charity in the wake of Drummer Rigby’s murder.
“We have been overwhelmed by the public’s generosity,” a statement from the organisation said, adding that orders for their merchandise will take longer than usual because of the massive demand.
“I believe that Help for Heroes merchandise has sold out in Cyprus too and I don’t know if there will be enough time to restock ahead of the funeral,” said Doughty. “My wife is getting some ribbon and we’re suggesting that people to wear it on the day of the funeral and if they want, to make a donation to H4H.” Although no specific event is being organised by the British expat, he is encouraging others to create events where friends can get together such as a BBQ, a drink in a local pub or a whip round of funds for the armed forces charity.
Doughty is also open to suggestions to raise awareness of his campaign and has asked the public to share the idea via social media, print and broadcast media and through word of mouth to ensure the maximum exposure.
“We want as many people to be involved as possible, to stand together against these types of actions,” he said.
Paphos-based Laurence Doughty is contactable via Facebook.