A Chorley bomb disposal expert, killed in Afghanistan, has been described as a ‘guiding light to all he served with’.

Warrant Officer Dave Markland, 36, from Euxton, was serving with the Engineer Regiment when he was killed in an explosion in the south of the country on Monday.

He leaves behind his wife, Corallee and their two sons Keelen, aged 10 and Logan, seven.

Dave, a former Parklands High School student, had a distinguished 20-year career in the Army, enlisting in June 1989 as a plant operator mechanic.

It was Dave’s eighth operational tour of duty, having completed five tours in Bosnia between 1995 and 1998, one in Iraq in 2003 and was undertaking his second tour of Afghanistan.

He was recently selected for a Field Squadron Sergeant Major's post; a rare occurrence in the plant specialist trade.

He had a passion for camping, mountaineering and trekking, and organised adventurous training for soldiers worldwide as well as enjoying both rugby and basketball.

A family statement, said: “He was a wonderful husband, father, son and brother. His family and friends all loved and adored him. Keelen and Logan will always remember how funny and playful dad was.

"We are very proud of his achievements in his Army career; his soldiers, friends and officers all respected his selflessness and admired his style of leadership.

"He will be sadly missed and leaves behind a family who he loved and loves him very, very much. We are all very proud of our hero."

Lieutenant Colonel Gareth Bex, commanding officer, Counter IED Task Force said: "He was a bear of a man, bold, but caring and compassionate.

“He was adored by his team; they would have followed him to the ends of the earth, such was the respect and trust he inspired.”

Major Tim Gould, officer commanding the Joint Force Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, said: “He was a veritable guiding light to all that he served with.

“A man of excellence and of exacting standards; second best just wouldn't do.

“He was new to the ‘bomb hunting' discipline, a small and tight knit fraternity; he thrived operating on the front line being at the vanguard in Helmand.”