THE daughter of a bodyguard killed in Iraq says more should have been done for a 'forgotten generation' of children who lost parents at war.

Mark Carman was protecting VIPs when he was killed 20 years ago during an explosion that made headlines around the world.

Like many of the more than 600 Brits who died in Iraq and Afghanistan, he left behind grieving young children – a now grown-up generation who continue to struggle with the trauma of what happened to this day.

Mark's daughter, Stephanie Carman, of Widnes, was just 11 years old at the time, dancing away at a school disco, when a police car arrived with her brother to take her home to be given the shattering news.

During that short journey back to the family home, Stephanie was transported from her life of adolescent innocence to a wreckage that has remained with her for decades.

Stephanie said her life changed within an instant, with no preparation or warning for his death - and no chance to say goodbye.

She said the shock of what had happened and dealing with the aftermath as his next of kin affected her personality and life for many years.

But speaking publicly for the first time, Stephanie, now 31, said she has only now come to terms with having suffered many years of PTSD, and is ready to open up about the horrific journey that so many other families may have been through.

The security company Mark worked for said it would have been "inappropriate" to speak to an 11-year-old child about what happened at that age, and it was not "authorised" to speak to her mum and his ex-wife.

But Steph said she felt sidelined and feels that she – and all other children whose parents died during conflicts – should have been more involved.

She said his family never saw any of the compensation paid out as it went straight to pay off debts on her dad's estate, and claims they have never been given the full truth of what happened that day.

Steph said: "I now think to myself, I'm settled, more mature and have had a chance to really reflect on the past and want to share my story.

“The story my eleven year old self wasn't able to express at the time.

"Families of military and armed forces are often forgotten. We suffer in their efforts to help protect our country. We are left with nothing.

Runcorn and Widnes World: Stephanie Carman with her daughter MeadowStephanie Carman with her daughter Meadow (Image: SWNS)

"I still feel quite bitter about the past and feel I was undermined by figures of authority at the time.

“A lot of decisions were made around me. If it happened at the age I am now, it would have been very different story.

"This man was my dad. I should have had more say at the time, but I was looked over.

"Because it was such a shock death, it is a lot for anyone to process. It should have been left until I was at age to deal with it legally.

“When people come in to your house you don't know and influence you it is difficult. Authority figures were in the house, media were on the doorstep and the police were involved.

“It all just became a lot. What can you realistically do when you're 11 years old in this situation?

"I want to start by raising awareness by telling my story and then see where it goes campaign wise.”

Mark died on May 24, 2004, aged 38 while protecting Bob Morgan, a senior government advisor, just 50 yards away from the US-led coalition headquarters in Baghdad.

Mr Morgan, a Foreign and Commonwealth Office-funded adviser on the reconstruction of the Iraqi oil sector, also died in the blast, while Mark's colleague Matthew Symons survived with serious injuries.

Mark, who had been in the Royal Artillery and the Army, was working for Control Risks Group, under contract from the Foreign Office, and had previously looked after the likes of Dale Winton and the Princess of India.

He was just days away from returning following a three-month deployment.

Recalling the fateful day of his death, Stephanie said: "I just remember walking into my mum's house and it being filled with family and my mum's closest friends.

“My mum and uncle sat me down on the sofa and told me the life changing news of my dad's death.

"The days and weeks after the news was mixed with utter grief, disbelief, upset and pressure on myself and my family with no real help outside our family and friends who were also suffering."

Runcorn and Widnes World: Stephanie Carman's dad Mark Carman was killed in IraqStephanie Carman's dad Mark Carman was killed in Iraq (Image: SWNS)

The actual cause of the explosion is still not fully known today.

Stephanie said she had always been a confident and outgoing youngster, but that all changed when she was thrust into an adult world she was not equipped for.

"There was no follow up support in regard to counselling etc. Grief can take a toll on mental health, and back in 2004 mental health wasn't as supported as it is now,” she said.

“I've had to navigate the past 20 years to the best of my ability. Dealing with any overwhelming feels of past trauma with mindfulness and meditation.

"I now just want to want to highlight the lack of help that was available at the time.

“I think a lot more should be in place for shock deaths, such as counselling, talking therapy, mindfulness classes.

"Fortunately I didn't go down the alcohol or drugs route like so many of those who sadly do, due to lack of support and care.

“I used my adversity and turned it into achievements. I went off to Chester Uni, held a professional dancing career and now have my own business.

“All built from the ground up by myself. I also travelled the world, working on cruise ships.

"It's taken years of courage and determination to be able to achieve these goals.

“It's also taken time to try and get back to myself, my personality and confidence from before the tragic incident.

"But I still feel like my dad was snatched away. He's missed all of the important things in my life. He was a massive part of the family and we were all incredibly close.

“I was very angry as a teenager – my grief and not knowing how to handle it made me angry and frustrated.

"When I have my bad days, like everyone does, I feel mine are made worse from stored trauma. Things that others may find easier to cope with, I tend to feel more overwhelmed and emotional by.

“I also give myself a hard time over things. I believe it is all linked to not being able to heal from the shock properly many years ago."