XMAS GIFT STOCKING FOR ALL OUR HEROES
FESTIVE fundraisers plan to give our troops abroad a happier Christmas by sending them presents.
Organisers are hoping to deliver a whopping 22,500 gift boxes to servicemen and women around the world.
But organisers say they need YOU to dig deep and make the appeal a success. The joint campaign between the Ministry of Defence and the charity uk4u Thanks! was launched yesterday at the St John's Wood Barracks in north London.
Each of the boxes, known as "square stockings", is packed with about 20 goodies. And although the contents of each year's box is a closely guarded secret, previous treats have included playing cards, frisbees, tabasco sauce and pocket torches.
Lance Corporal Steven Turner, 28, from Stoke-on-Trent, got a charity box last Christmas while he was serving with the Grenadier Guards in Helmand Province, southern Afghanistan.
He said: "All the lads were excited because it was Christmas Day anyway, and then all of a sudden they brought out a load of these boxes.
"We were all very happy, really chuffed to bits with them.
"We're grown men, so we tried not to get too excited but it was a great morale-booster.
"We'd been in that patrol base for months and all the stuff in the boxes was great.
"There were some juggling balls and we loved the teabags...it was cold out there and they kept us warm."
Charles Wookey, a former RAF pilot and a trustee of uk4u, added: "I used to be in the armed forces and I know what it's like to be away from your family.
"It's really nice to know that someone, somewhere in the UK is thinking of you."
The appeal, launched in 2004, was inspired by an idea for "gifts from the nation", thought up in 1914 by Princess Mary, the 17-year-old daughter of King George V.
During the First World War, the boxes contained tobacco, a lighter, a bullet pencil and sweets.