Lynn O’Brien: We need to support soldiers at Xmas

Some soldiers have little or no family contact
Some soldiers have little or no family contact
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Somewhere in the world there is a sailor in a far off ocean, an airman in a remote airfield or a soldier in an isolated base and they are all thinking about Christmas for different reasons.

Some may be lucky enough to have permission to come home for a few days, some may not be so lucky but can Skype their family - but there are others, far more than we realise, who have little or no family contact.

Support our Soliders was founded in 2003.

Support our Soliders was founded in 2003.

These are the service men and women that commanding officers are keeping a close eye on, the ones who are not receiving mail, these are the men and women who will be surprised firstly that a total stranger is thinking of them at all.

They will open the parcel that a person back home has taken the time to shop for and fill, they will read the message of support from this stranger and they will know then that they are not alone and from the letters, or blueys, that you can read on our web site.

You will see the evidence of the impact these morale boxes have throughout the year but especially at Christmas which can be a lonely time for someone who, perhaps, through no fault of theirs, has no one to write to, and no one to keep them supplied not only with essentials but small games/puzzle books to alleviate the boredom when they have time to relax, a Santa hat to join in with the festivities and of course a small Christmas present to open.

This may be the only present they will receive and it brings a lump to my throat every time I think of this.

Scottish soldiers leave for Afghanistan.

Scottish soldiers leave for Afghanistan.

I once had a bluey from an airman who said it took him three days to properly look at his parcel simply because it had a Christmas card inside from a child, such a simple thing crumbled this big strapping lad at first then cheered him up to see the thought that had gone into his box and he admitted that, although he was surrounded by his mates, he was feeling a bit lonely and home sick and the simple act of a box from a stranger perked him back up.

I became involved with Support Our Soldiers around seven years ago, when my son enlisted. I had no idea what was in front of us as a family and so I searched the internet for a forum and found SOS.

After a few weeks of getting to know people I became aware of the work that they do, they were and still are a charity run entirely by volunteers and I admired this and began to help wherever I could. I now send monthly boxes to our service personnel.

At Christmas I could be sending 300 to 600 boxes, most of which are kindly donated. This is where the public come in to the story, without their support we simply could not cope.

All we ask is that you take a look at the web page www.supportoursoldiers.org.uk you will see the contacts tab which will show you where your closest coordinator is, no matter where you are in the UK. If there is no one close to you then please get in touch with your nearest, you will find we all have a network of contacts who pick up boxes for us so please ask.

There is also a list of drop off points where you may leave your parcels for us. Alternatively you can e mail me on stirling@supportoursoldiers.org.uk for further information.

We welcome clubs/societies/schools/cadets/workplaces taking part in our Christmas appeal so please get in touch and let a sailor/soldier/airman know that you are thinking of them this Christmas.

The Support Our Soldiers charity was founded in 2003 by a group of service families/friends/supporters who came together with the sole aim to provide support for our serving men and women and their families at home, doing everything from sending morale boosting care packages and helping those with injuries to raising welfare issues and providing much needed support and guidance to family members.

Lynn O’Brien is regional co-ordinator for Scotland Support Our Soldiers