Parcel-loads of festive cheer are on their way to troops overseas, thanks to a Bingley mum and her recruits.
Karen Webster launched her sixth Support Our Soldiers Christmas Appeal this week by appealing for gifts and cash donations.
Her son is a former member of the 7th Armoured Brigade, also known as the Desert Rats, and served in Iraq in 2003, The nationwide appeal has spread from its Bingley origins to include 66 other centres across the UK from Aberdeen to Penzance.
Last year the group sent 15,351 parcels to serving men and women in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Falklands, Kosovo, Bosnia and on ships patrolling waters under threat.
Next weekend mum-of-three Mrs Webster will be packing and wrapping parcels with the help of Bingley Det-achment Army Cadets at their Hillside Road headquarters off Park Road.
They will be there from 10am to 4pm on both days. As well as being there to accept donations of small gifts and cash – £5 would cover the cost of a shoebox hamper – more helping hands are welcome, she says.
Last Christmas well-wishers from the Bradford district sent out 3,000 parcels and this year Mrs Webster is expecting to use 8,000 feet of wrapping paper.
She said: “We give priority to servicemen and women who don’t get parcels from families and friends.
“It’s a massive morale boost. It means so much to them that they are being remembered.”
Last year Mrs Webster won a campaign for British armed forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to receive free post.
The Ministry of Defence has given Mrs Webster’s appeal the go-ahead to send out the parcels while putting a block on people individually sending out random gifts abroad.
“Although they are all well-meant it puts tremendous strain on the MOD and causes them a huge problem, so it helps if all the gifts are channelled through us,” she said.
Anyone wanting to know more about the Support Our Soldiers appeal or wanting to help, can log on to supportoursoldiers.co.uk or just turn up at the cadets’ Hillside Road headquarters next weekend.