Troops collect clothes in Penicuik for poor children in Kenya

Private Beggs from Balaklava Company with locals after handing out donated clothes to villagers at a community hall  in Nanyuki. Picture; PA
Private Beggs from Balaklava Company with locals after handing out donated clothes to villagers at a community hall in Nanyuki. Picture; PA
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Clothes collected by the families of Lothian soldiers have been handed out to underprivileged children in Kenya as troops take part in a series of projects to benefit local communities.

The Royal Highland Fusiliers, 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS) brought bags of children’s clothes gathered in Penicuik to distribute at a community centre in the northern town of Nanyuki.

The battalion is in Kenya to take part in Exercise Askari Storm, a six-week training programme in the Kenyan bush co-ordinated by the British Army Training Unit Kenya (BATUK). Alongside the exercises, soldiers have the opportunity to get involved in community outreach work around BATUK’s base in the town.

Projects have included handing out books to schools, refurbishing a local stadium and holding medical clinics.

Corporal David Sweeney, from 2 SCOTS, said a collection held before the battalion deployed in February to gather as many clothes as possible had generated a great response.

The 34-year-old, from Paisley, Renfrewshire, said it was important for the soldiers training in the area to 
give back to the local community.

He said: “Over two days we’re bringing underprivileged families in and trying to hand out some of the clothes.

“I’ve got four children, so this means a lot to me, and some of the guys that I’ve handpicked as well are guys with families.

“It can be an emotional time for some of the guys, we’ve had some have to walk away. It can be quite upsetting.”

Hellen Wambui Wangai, ward administrator in Thingithu Ward, Nanyuki, said the army’s presence had benefited the town.

She said: “BATUK is helping us, they are working closely with the county government and every time we have an event, we get a lot of support from BATUK. To me, the BATUK should remain, we need them and they have also employed a lot a people around here.

“One of my brothers-in-law works there, so it is benefiting not only him but many others too.”

The News told yesterday how a soldier who lost a limb after being blown up twice in a week in Afghanistan had 
battled against the odds to 
join the troops training in Kenya.

Fusilier Sean Wiseman, from Bonnyrigg, Midlothian, thought his army career was over when, at the age of just 18, his right leg was amputated after he was injured while on foot patrol in the Nad-e Ali district of Helmand province.

The blast from an improvised explosive device in 2010 came just six days after he had survived another explosion with cuts and bruises.

newsen@edinburghnews.com