A GRIEVING mum has paid tribute to a Royal Marine from Blackburn killed in Afghanistan.

David Fairbrother, 24, of Beardwood Brow, was shot dead in the early hours of Monday after his ambushed patrol came under close range fire in Helmand province.

Speaking exclusively to the Lancashire Telegraph, mum Julie, 53, and sisters Ruth, 30, and Emily, 20, said the former Lammack and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School pupil was a ‘daredevil’ and a ‘perfect son and brother’.

Julie said: “We got a knock on the door from two Royal Marines.

"We had been told that if they turned up at the door without uniform, he’s injured, but if they’re in uniform, he’s dead.

"I knew instantly at that point.

“Every day we wondered where he was and how he was.

"But nothing can ever prepare you for that moment.

“I just kept screaming ‘No’ over and over again. He was the sunshine of my life.”

Julie said her overwhelming feeling was one of pride for her ‘unselfish and brave’ son, who was dedicated to a long career in the Marines.

It was David’s first tour after passing out last September.

He had undergone commando training and then six months training in Devon.

He was deployed to Afghanistan in April as part of Operation Herrick 14.

David was due to return home on October 28 and had been keeping a diary for his girlfriend Melissa Shine, 25, from Southern Ireland.

They met on holiday in Ibiza in August last year and she had recently got a new job in London so they could be closer together when he was not on tour.

In a statement, Melissa said, "Dave - I am so glad I met you.

"You have changed my life in so many ways and I will cherish our time together forever.

"Love always - Is brea i gcónaí. Melissa xxx"

Julie, a childminder, said: “It was terrible to have to tell his sisters and then Melissa the news over the phone.

"He was so obviously in love. He was just the best son I could ever wish for.”

David was the youngest ever skydiver with the ‘Black Knights’- in Cockermouth - when he jumped out of a plane on his 16th birthday.

He completed more than 100 jumps.

His family said he was ‘fitness mad’ and enjoyed adrenaline-pumping activities such as bungee-jumping, scuba-diving and strong-man events - one of which he completed in wearing just a mankini.

Julie said: “We had a leaving party before he went on tour. I’m so glad we did that now.

"We would speak on the phone every couple of weeks.”

She recalled how she last spoke to her only son by telephone just two weeks ago after he saw his 42 Commando ‘Kilo Company’ Sgt Barry Weston killed by an improvised explosive device.

She said: “I read his tribute to his sergeant and called him to check how he was coping.

"I knew he must be in the thick of it, but he just told me he was proud to have served under him.

“He kept the details of what was happening from us so we didn’t worry, but every single day he was out there we were concerned.

“Before he left for his tour, he just told me that he had made a will.

"That was all that needed to be said.”

David was a keen sportsman and played for Lammack Juniors and Langho Juniors in his youth, swam for Pioneer 79 and played cricket for Blackburn Northern.

He played basketball at school and water polo at Leeds University where he studied geography after leaving QEGS.

As a child he went to scouts and cubs with Revidge Fold and Bold Venture.

Holding a framed picture of David in his Royal Marine’s uniform, elder sister Ruth, who works for Lancashire County Council, said: “We are just so proud of him. He was everybody’s best friend.”

Younger sister Emily said: “He was a very protective older brother and I copied everything he did.

“My brother was my best friend and my hero. He will be in my thoughts forever.

"I’m so proud of everything he had done in his life, especially becoming a Royal Marine.”

David will be repatriated at RAF Brize Norton tomorrow and his funeral is likely to take place next week.