TRIBUTES were paid today (July 2) on what should have been the 21st birthday of a much-loved young soldier.

Stockton soldier Codie Richardson and her friend, fellow soldier Mark McKeen, of Northern Ireland died in a car collision in Catterick on Saturday, February 1.

The family attended Pte Richardson’s inquest on Tuesday and heard she was a passenger in Trooper McKeen’s Seat Ibiza which was being driven at 83mph in a 40mph when the car hit a tree.

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Trooper McKeen was declared dead at the scene and Pte Richardson later that evening at Darlington Memorial Hospital.

But today, Wednesday, July 2, Codie Richardson’s family said wanted to concentrate on celebrating her life.

Balloons were released at the scene of the accident on Leyburn Road, Catterick and a tree was also decorated with balloons and birthday cards as an Army padre said chairs.

A party in her honour is to be held in the White Swan pub in Norton, north Stockton, tonight where a toast will said and more balloons released.

Carol Muir, Codie Richardson’s mother was too upset to speak, but Gary Muir, Pte Richardson’s stepfather, said: “Codie was much loved and had so many friends. Carol has lost a daughter, I have lost a step-daughter and the girls have lost a sister. The Army is like a family, and they feel they have lost a sister too.”

This is the second tragedy to hit the family. Pte Richardson’s father, Mark Richardson, was murdered in an unprovoked attack by two men outside his home in 2002, leaving his wife and five daughters.