A TALENTED ex-serviceman turned artist from Redditch has set himself the challenge to paint a portrait of every British soldier who died in Afghanistan.

Kevin Wills, from Oakenshaw, has vowed to paint 457 portraits and to send each one to the families of the fallen as a permanent tribute to those who died for their country.

It is a cause very close to Kevin's heart as he is a veteran, having served for six years with the Royal Logistic Corps.

He was stationed in Abingdon in Oxfordshire before serving in Bosnia in 1995/95 and 1997, followed by two years in Belfast.

Redditch Advertiser: A selection of Kevin's portraits of the fallen.A selection of Kevin's portraits of the fallen.

Kevin said: “I'm always interested in stories about veterans and I read about a fallen marine and thought I would try to paint his picture. I put it on Facebook and people really liked it and someone suggested I should send it to his family."

The 44-year-old father of four had an "overwhelming" response to his work, so decided to paint more while tracking down the subject's families to provide them with a tribute to their son or daughter.

A fellow veteran called Nigel Hancock got in touch with Kevin after seeing his work and set up a website, which led to the project "snowballing", Kevin said.

Of the 41 portraits Kevin has completed so far, only one has not been able to reach the veteran's family.

Instead, Kevin travelled to Windsor on December 8 to give the painting to the Windsor Welsh Guards, where the solider served as an officer, where it is now proudly displayed.

Kevin, who juggles his painting with working at Jaguar Land Rover, said: “The response has been overwhelming, I’ve had letters from soldiers, one was handwritten with a thank you card, saying thank you, we’re overjoyed, we can’t believe that someone has done this.

“It’s close to home for me."

Kevin self-funded the project initially, but the costs such as framing, printing and posting over 400 paintings is too much for him alone.

Instead, Kevin and Nigel have launched a Crowdfunder to help Kevin achieve his goal, which can be found at: https://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/the-fallen-of-afghanistan

Kevin's previous subjects include Sir Captain Moore and England manager Gareth Southgate.