BRITISH soldiers serving in Iraq can look forward to a cracker of a Christmas, thanks to a schoolgirl from Hartford.
Laura Holmes, 12, of Hodge Lane, posted 62 parcels on Friday, packed full of treats and other goodies for servicemen and women who will be far away from their loved ones this year.
Laura began her Christmas mercy mission after a three-day visit to Germany, where she met some of the troops who had just returned from service in the war-torn country.
Sad that so many soldiers would be so far away from their loved ones this Christmas, she decided to set about her own festive mercy mission.
She spent her pocket money on 100 Christmas crackers to send over and organised fundraising events including make-up evenings and cabarets to raise more money for treats.
She also bought teddies and other gifts for the soldiers to hand out to Iraqi children on Christmas Day.
'I just wanted to make it a special time for everyone,' she said.
By Friday, she had amassed so much that Castle Post Office had to ring the main sorting office and ask them to send a bigger van.
Various people chipped in to help - including staff at Corrugated Boxes, based in Middlewich, who provided the boxes for the parcels, and an 82-year-old pensioner and her family, who donated two very large boxes containing sweets, toffees and Christmas puds.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, put a letter inside one of the boxes explaining that instead of birthday presents this year she has requested money to help Laura's campaign.
Other acts of kindness included a donation of £100 in vouchers from a Scottish woman who asked Laura to buy something for 'the forgotten forces'.
Occupational therapists from North-wich and Chester also gave generously and an employee from Williams Estate Agents in Northwich donated a bag of toys for the children of Basra after reading about Laura's quest in the Chronicle last week.
Laura has been overwhelmed by everyone's kindness and has asked us to say a big 'thank you' on her behalf to everyone who helped. Gifts and donations are still coming in, which means that Laura will be able to send more boxes this week.
The schoolgirl's proud mum, Linda, said her daughter was delighted with the response from the public.
She said: 'Laura thinks it is very sad that the soldiers will be away from their families at Christmas and hopes the Christmas tinsel, puds and crackers will make it special for them - also knowing that people are still thinking of them back in England.'