THE widow of a paratrooper who died saving seven colleagues from enemy fire yesterday collected the first posthumous Victoria Cross to be awarded since the Falklands War.

Corporal Bryan Budd, of 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment, was killed in August when he single-handedly stormed a Taliban position in southern Afghanistan.

His widow, Lorena, received his VC from the Queen in a private ceremony at Buckingham Palace.

She was accompanied by Cpl Budd's stepfather, Trevor Girdham, his sister, Tracy, and brother Stephen.

Mrs Budd said last night: "The award of the Victoria Cross recognises his conspicuous gallantry, inspirational leadership and supreme valour.

"Tragically, acting in the highest traditions of the Parachute Regiment, he made the ultimate sacrifice by laying down his life.

"However, he did so doing the job he loved serving in the regiment that meant so much to him."

Cpl Budd left two daughters, two-year-old Isabelle and Imogen, who was born a month after her father died.

Mrs Budd said: "He will always be missed, but his memory continues to live on."

The VC is Britain's highest award for bravery in the face of the enemy and has been awarded only 13 times since the Second World War.

Cpl Budd, who lived in Ripon, North Yorkshire, but was originally from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, is the fifth paratrooper to win a posthumous VC.

On July 27, while his section was on patrol, it became caught in a fight with Taliban gunmen on the roof of a building.

Cpl Budd led an assault into the heart of the gunfire, allowing a wounded colleague to be rescued for lifesaving treatment.

On August 20, his section was again caught in heavy fighting.

Cpl Budd was wounded, but rushed the Taliban position, firing continuously. His actions inspired the rest of his section to push forward.

His body was later found surrounded by three dead Taliban fighters.

His VC citation described his behaviour as a "premeditated act of inspirational leadership and supreme valour".

Seven other members of the 3rd Battalion the Parachute Regiment also received honours yesterday for their service in Afghanistan last year.

The regiment's commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Stuart Tootal, who was awarded the distinguished service order, said: "It's what these soldiers go and do, and if necessary, they will do it day in, day out. Most importantly, they will go back and do it again."