Scotland’S Rugby Players Help To Send Top Secret Santa Stockings To Helmand
Mystery red boxes packed full of Christmas gifts and festive cheer are winging their way to the 700 soldiers of Edinburgh-based 1 SCOTS and 3 RIFLES, currently serving in Helmand._ This proves that Santa even delivers presents to troops in Afghanistan as long as theyve been good boys throughout the year!The boxes, affectionately dubbed ‘square stockings, are sent to all UK armed forces personnel and civilian staff serving on operations, or in hospital over Christmas – to say thanks for their hard work and commitment, and show that people in the UK are thinking about them._ The charity uk4u Thanks! works with the MoD to send the boxes, supported by sponsors and public donations._ At Murrayfield stadium today (Friday) the SRU, with players Simon Cross and Simon Webster added their support to the campaign, urging people in Scotland to support the charity INSTEAD of sending their own parcels and shoeboxes to the troops.Xxx of The Royal Scots Borderers, 1st Battalion the Royal Regiment of Scotland (1 SCOTS) said: ‘support from the public is tremendous and much appreciated, but we urge people not to send anonymous parcels over the festive period, as it can prevent parcels from friends and families getting there in time for Christmas._ This isn’t a normal postal situation this is a war zone where everything has to be distributed by helicopter in a dangerous environment, so the pressure of all these extra parcels could affect operations or put people at risk.We don’t want the support to stop, but the best way for people to back the troops is to donate to UK4U or simply hold off from sending parcels for a couple of months.Members of the public can support our troops, by donating money at www.uk4u.org or the SSAFA welfare fund www.mod.uk/OperationalWelfareFund , Support our Soldiers, Thank the Forces, or an existing military charity such as the Army, Navy or RAF benevolent funds, Erskine, Poppy Scotland, BLEMSA, Combat Stress or Help for Heroes._ Details can be found at www.mod.uk/PublicSupportForOurServicePersonnel.About 25,000 of the square stockings are sent across the world to locations such as Afghanistan, Falkland Islands, Cyprus, and submarines in time for Christmas Day._ They don’t use the British Forces Post office system, so don’t delay parcels from loved ones getting through._ They are filled with about 20 items – some of which will come in useful every day, others are simply intended to put a smile on the faces of those who receive them.The contents are top secret to guarantee a surprise on Christmas day, but last year they included a collapsible cup, tool kit, juggling balls, reading light, torch, tea and sweets.Scotland and Edinburgh rugby stars, flanker Simon Cross and winger Simon Webster, took time out to chat to soldiers of 1 SCOTS, 3 RIFLES and army recruit Taylor Kindred of Kirkintilloch, about serving abroad over Christmas._ The two Simons are training hard for their two Edinburgh matches against Glasgow at Christmas and in the New Year, as well as gearing up for the Six Nations tournament. Simon Cross said:_ I come from a military family so I know only too well how hard separation can be for troops and their families. They do a great job in difficult conditions and are very much in our thoughts.Simon Webster said: Im honoured to support the brave men and women of the Armed Forces and I know my team mates join me in wishing them and their families a safe and very merry Christmas.Commanding Officer x in Helmand said: It’s never easy being so far away from your loved ones over Christmas, you never get used to it._ But morale is high, the lads are all in very good spirits, and were all looking forward to opening our surprise stockings on Christmas Day and perhaps singing a carol or two._ Well all take the opportunity to phone home and speak to our families and friends, but it will also be business as usual over the Christmas period, getting on with the job in Helmand, which does help to take your mind off the separation.Knowing that the public are behind us and support our efforts, especially at this time, is a real morale boost. For more information and pictures, please call Sara Reed in the MoD Scotland press office on 0131 310 2004 or 07747 767963.