A YOUNG married couple who are both in the army are spending Christmas apart – despite being on tour in Afghanistan at the same time.
Lance Corporal Alisha Henderson and husband Corporal Paul Henderson were deployed to Helmand in September.
The pair, who are army chefs, work with different units – which means they never get a chance to meet up.
They are both on their second operational tours, but it is the first time they have been deployed over the same period, arriving in Afghanistan at the beginning of September for six months.
L-Cpl Henderson, who was born in Edinburgh and brought up in Galashiels, serves with the 1st Battalion, The Mercian Regiment, and Cpl Henderson, originally from Newcastle, is part of the Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.
The couple met six years ago during an army training course, and got married the following year while on holiday in Cyprus.
L-Cpl Henderson, who turns 24 on Monday, said Christmas will have to be “just like any other working day”.
The pair, who live at Catterick, North Yorkshire, have just returned from a two-week rest and relaxation period, given to all soldiers serving for more than four months at a time.
They celebrated Christmas early with a curry lunch cooked by Cpl Henderson’s father, which he traditionally makes for the family on Boxing Day.
Over Christmas, L-Cpl Henderson will be at a forward operating base in Shawqat, while Cpl Henderson, 29, will be working about 30 miles away at Patrol Base Attal.
L-Cpl Henderson said: “I suppose it’s just the same as any other couple. We’re both out here, and both doing a job.
“It’s a bit hard, as obviously I can’t just pick up the phone when I want and ring him whenever I like, and vice versa.
“We get to speak to each other twice a week, on Saturdays and Tuesdays. With Christmas coming, we’re in the mind-set that it’s just another working day. It’s how it has to be.
“Even though we can’t be together, it’s still a bit of a support mechanism knowing he’s out here too. We both understand what the other one is going through.”
Cpl Henderson said: “It’s hard being apart. We never actually get to see each other.
“We’ve just had our R&R break together and that’s the first time I’ve laid eyes on her in three months. It will be another three or so months before we see each other again.”
L-Cpl Henderson added that, despite the fact that they are both chefs, she likes to leave most of the cooking to her husband when they are at home.
“He does the cooking and I do the dishes,” she said.