TRAGIC scenes of Afghans trying desperately to flee their country after the Taliban regained power have pulled at the heartstrings of many East Renfrewshire residents.

But, for one Barrhead mum, they have been particularly difficult to watch.

Cathy Timmins lost her son David in January – almost 12 years after he suffered horrific wounds while serving with the Royal Logistics Corps in Helmand Province.

As the crisis in Afghanistan has deepened, her thoughts have turned to David and other soldiers whose lives have been devastated by the bloody conflict.

Cathy told our sister title the Barrhead News: “We always knew this would happen as soon as the soldiers left.

“David disliked the Taliban and what they were putting their own people through.

“A lot of the men and women sent to Afghanistan were wounded. I wouldn’t say it was all for nothing – and you have to remember that they chose their job, including my son – but I feel so sorry for all these boys and girls who served over there and are still suffering.

“David suffered for 10 years after coming home from Afghanistan. Even though he passed away this year, I lost him in Afghanistan.”

Glasgow Times:

It was in July 2009 that David, serving as a corporal, suffered life-changing wounds.

He was taking part in Operation Panther’s Claw when an explosion left him with 22 separate injuries, including a fractured skull and a collapsed lung, as well as the loss of his right eye.

David was later awarded the Queen’s Gallantry Medal for saving a badly-injured comrade just days earlier and for his work defusing Taliban mines.

He went on to become an inspirational fundraiser for other injured veterans.

Tragically, David died in January this year, aged 39, leaving parents Stephen and Cathy devastated.

His fiancee, Liane Brophy, was 10 weeks pregnant at the time.

Three weeks ago, she gave birth to their 7lb baby son, David Leo Stephen.

He is also survived by 13-year-old son Rhys and stepdaughter Summer.

David and many other troops were sent to Afghanistan as part of a British and American coalition tasked with destroying Al-Qaeda and the Taliban after the 9/11 terror attacks in America in 2001.

Glasgow Times:

The vast majority of British soldiers withdrew in 2014 and the recent decision to pull out American forces has led to the Taliban regaining control after 20 years in the shadows.

Cathy describes the current crisis there as “heartbreaking” and told how her soldier son had formed a bond with the Afghan people.

She said: “For the last 10 years, he sponsored a young girl over there and helped her through school.

“When he was over there, he used to write to me and ask us to send clothing and trainers because the people had nothing.”

Despite the agonising grief of losing her son, Cathy has been able to find comfort by spending time with new grandchild David junior.

“The only thing that has kept me alive over the eight months since David passed is this baby,” she said. “He is just another wee David – he looks just like his dad.”

Glasgow Times:

Meanwhile, East Renfrewshire Council has pledged to give “serious consideration” to any request to accept Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban.

Since the hardline Islamist group seized Afghanistan’s capital city, Kabul, earlier this month, thousands have sought to leave.

The UK Government has committed to providing asylum for up to 20,000 refugees seeking safety, with East Renfrewshire Council monitoring developments.

A council spokesperson told the Barrhead News: “Any requests to accommodate Afghan refugees will be given urgent and serious consideration.”

Also monitoring the situation in Afghanistan is East Renfrewshire MP Kirsten Oswald, who has urged the UK Government to provide a safe haven for British Council staff who fear for their lives if they are left behind.

The British Council has said a number of current and former staff have been relocated from Afghanistan to the UK under the Afghan Relocations and Assistance Policy (ARAP) scheme, which is run by the Ministry of Defence and started in April.

However, despite the issue being raised in the House of Commons last week, the UK Government has offered MPs no reassurance about how many more British Council staff might be relocated under the ARAP initiative.

Ms Oswald has called for action after receiving a letter from Gillian Davidson, a teacher from Eaglesham, who said the plight of British Council staff is “very personal” to her.

Ms Davidson wrote: “I have worked in English Language teaching for nearly 30 years and been privileged to work with people from all over the world who teach English and regard the UK as an example of fair and ethical government.

“Of all the betrayals of these values over the last few years, leaving people who have worked with us and promoted our values at the mercy of the Taliban just feels like one too many.”

Ms Oswald has written to the UK Government to seek confirmation that more will be done to provide current and former British Council employees, and their families, with safe passage under the ARAP scheme.

She said: “To be seen to leave behind people who had worked closely with the UK Government to promote the values that are despised by the Taliban would be inexcusable.”