Christmas gift campaign for troops in Afghanistan

Pat Graham, from Bourne, with some of the items he has collected for his parcels for the troops campaign
Pat Graham, from Bourne, with some of the items he has collected for his parcels for the troops campaign

People are being urged to donate items to send to troops serving in Afghanistan this Christmas.

Pat Graham, of Rowan Way, Bourne, has sent more than 720 parcels to serving troops since taking over the parcels for the troops campaign two years ago.

But he is hoping people in the town will show their generosity by donating items over the festive period.

He said: “People give generously all year around but over Christmas it is especially important. I am so grateful that people support the campaign and I hope they will continue to do so.

“I am hoping to send more than 20 parcels out to our brave troops serving in Afghanistan this Christmas.”

Pat, 75, packs the boxes and posts them himself but he is calling on people to donate items to fill the boxes. Although Pat and his wife Cynthia donate many items to the appeal themselves, Pat said he would never be able to send the volume without the help of people in the town.

Items which can be donated include toiletries for men and women, tinned foods, sweets, crisps, biscuits, table games and crossword books. Each box weighs up to two kilos.

Pat, who served as a flight sergeant in the Royal Air Force for more than 20 years and worked alongside the Army, so he knows just how much the parcels can boost morale.

He said: “I got lots of nice letters back from male and female troops telling me how much they enjoy getting the parcels. When I was serving, we got Red Cross parcels so I know exactly how it feels to get a parcel and just what it means.”

This could be the last time Pat sends parcels out as the Government has pledged to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014 and Pat only sends parcels out to active warzones, as British Forces Post Office covers the costs of postage.

But he has vowed to continue sending the parcels until all the troops have returned home.

He also thanked the staff at the post office in West Street for their assistance in making sure the parcels reach their destination safely.

The appeal was originally set up by Bourne town councillor Shirley Cliffe and her sister-in-law Cherry after Cherry’s son Alan served in Afghanistan. Pat donated items anonymously and when the Cliffe sisters tracked him down, he was delighted to take on the campaign.

Donations can be dropped off at Pat’s home at 8 Rowan Way, Bourne; at the Spice of Life shop in the Burghley Centre; or at Sam’s shop in Abbey Road.