Army thanks for morale aid
THE experiences of troops serving in Afghanistan enthralled a packed village hall in Tilsworth on Tuesday when four officers paid a visit to the area.
Major Nick Walker and captains Ibi Ali MC, Alec Hammond and Henry Stowe, wanted to come to the Leighton area to thank the public for their support and generosity for helping boost the morale of soldiers from the 3rd Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment.
Jacqui Sage-Passant started fund-raising and sending welfare boxes out to the troops after her son, Lewis, who was serving with the regiment, sent lists of names of soldiers who would love a reminder of home.
This week they repaid the public’s kindness by entertaining more than 160 people for more than two hours. The applause went on for so long that Jacqui had to let the event over-run.
She said: “They gave a fabulous, frank and often hilarious insight into a soldier’s life. You couldn’t move in the hall - it was standing room only. We almost had to turn people away. It was absolutely wonderful. I think people were fascinated by their stories.
“Capt Ali was awarded the Military Cross and the applause for him went on for a full five minutes.”
The officer lost part of his arm in Iraq in 2007 yet, despite appalling injuries, continued to command his devastated patrol which had been targeted by a roadside bomb.
“He talked about how he lost an arm in Iraq and even showed the footage of him moments after the injury, as he walked onto a helicopter, and talked about rehabilitation and moving forward as an injured soldier.
“Henry was very funny. He looked a little like Michael McIntyre and we all thought that he must be related. He gave a light-hearted talk about how the troops keep their morale up while Alec spoke about how lives had been changed over there. Instead of growing opium the villagers are being educated and given real choices.
“Major Walker has to deal with all casualties - sometimes treating injured soldiers and the people responsible for it.”
The audience were able to try on all the body armour for themselves and get an understanding how it feels to carry 40 kilos of weight out on a patrol while having to deal with 55 degree heat.
Said Jacqui: “A lot of people don’t understand the war and say that we shouldn’t still be there but by being there the troops are keeping the streets of the UK safe from terrorist attacks. There’s a lot of intelligence that comes out of there that has helped to prevent tragedies in our cities.
“A lot of people there couldn’t believe the stories that the officers told. Our army cadets found it fascinating. The soldiers have a wall over there and they pin up messages and letters from people back home. It’s a great morale booster. A lot of those letters came from people in the Leighton area and everyone was so grateful to receive them.”
The event was free but donation buckets were in the hall for the ABF-The soldiers’ charity and £582 was donated.
Jacqui is no longer collecting for boxes but she has been made the country’s first volunteer fundraiser for the ABF. If you’d like to help her or would like more information about what you can do to support troops and their families contact Major Peter Marclerode, the regional organiser for East Anglia 07810 573 020 or by email firstname.lastname@example.org
*A spoof video of the soldiers on tour was shown at the event to show the lighter moments of the soldiers’ tour in the country. Call Me Burma can be viewed on youtube.com/watch?v=NIo5KP_3qT0&feature=share
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Weather for Leighton Buzzard
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 15 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 4 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North west