LOVING tributes have been paid today to a 29-year-old former soldier from Scarborough who died tragically less than 18 months after leaving the army.
Adrian Pickard, known as Ady, who survived three tours of Iraq and a tour of Afghanistan without a scratch, quit the armed forces in part to avoid the danger of war zones.
But in a devastating twist of fate he passed away after the concrete-laden truck he was driving crashed in West Yorkshire, just as Ady and wife Kelly, 28, were looking forward to spending decades together.
A funeral date has not yet been set.
Ady’s death has devastated Kelly and his 10-year-old son Jordan, as well as countless other family members and friends who will remember him as a loyal, fun-loving man who never stopped smiling.
His father Colin and step-mother Heather, of Filey Road, said: “We have always been so proud of all Adrian’s achievements in life. We will always remember him as a son who loved his family dearly.
“Adrian had a great sense of humour and was liked and well-respected by everyone who met him.
“We would like to thank family and friends for their tremendous support at this very difficult time.”
Kelly added: “I’ll miss Ady so much.
“He was always laughing and loved helping people. We were just settling down to a normal, married life.
“His regiment were due to go back to Afghanistan – he said he had me and his son to think about and it wasn’t worth his life.
“When he was in the army I knew it was dangerous and I tried to prepare myself as well as I could, but once he left I thought he would be safe.”
Ady, a popular member of Wykeham Cricket Club, was born and bred in Scarborough and attended Barrowcliff School and Raincliffe School before joining the army at 18. He was sent on his first tour of Iraq in 2004 as part of the Royal Dragoon Guards and in May 2005, at a barbecue to mark his return, he met Kelly.
“We just hit it off straight away,” Kelly said. “I was attracted by his smile. We’d only been together for nine months when he asked me to marry him.”
The couple married at Cayton Church in 2008, on what ranked alongside his son’s birth as the best day in Ady’s life.
Kelly moved to Catterick Garrison to be with her husband, who was posted again to Iraq in 2005 and 2007, before he was sent to Afghanistan in February 2010.
He drove tanks as part of his deployment and would also take part in reconstruction projects, such as building schools.
Kelly would send parcels to Ady containing his favourite home comforts, including hot chocolate and biscuits, while he was stationed abroad.
She would also include sweets which he would often hand out to local children.
After leaving the army as a corporal Ady returned to Catterick and got a job at a local quarry and would make regular trips back to Scarborough.
He would often take son Jordan, who was from a previous relationship, to football matches or camping.
He was driving the concrete-laden truck through Otley, near Leeds, when it overturned, smashing through a safety barrier and hitting a lamppost, on February 17.
Ady was airlifted to hospital in Leeds where he underwent emergency surgery.
He regained consciousness and his condition appeared to be improving slowly, before it deteriorated in the early hours of February 26.
He passed away with members of his family at his side.
Ady’s best friend and fellow Wykeham CC member, Kevin Thompson, said happy memories of Ady would always bring a smile to his face.
He added: “I will always remember when we were playing cricket at Cloughton. The ball was hit out of the ground and landed in a neighbouring garden. Ady, ever willing and keen to put his army training to good use, ran off to retrieve it.
“There was a pond in the garden covered with weed which Ady had failed to spot - he stepped onto the weed and disappeared. He re-appeared looking bedraggled and covered in pondweed!
“Ady was a loyal and dependable friend and team mate. He was a very focused and determined individual particularly in his desire to join the army.”
Kevin’s brother, Ian, used to coach Ady at Wykeham Cricket Club.
He added: “Even when he was in the army he would come back and play cricket for Wykeham, and if he couldn’t play he would watch.
“Everybody is just in shock - you don’t expect someone to die at that age.
“I remember him telling me once that when he was in the army the tank in front of his was blown up by a roadside bomb. He just said it was just how luck goes.
“I was relieved when he came out of the army because I thought the risk was over, but this time luck just hasn’t been with him.”
Wykeham CC member John Palmer said: “He was a great lad both on and off the field. He enjoyed a laugh and a joke and a beer or two after a game and was always good company. It is tragic to have lost him so young.”
l A funeral date has not yet been set. Kelly and Ady’s families would like to express their gratitude and thanks to Yorkshire Air Ambulance, Leeds General Infirmary and St James Hospital in Leeds for their care and support.