Let’s make this Christmas extra special for Chester-based families of soldiers who will be away from their loved ones over the festive season.
Army wives at Dale Barracks in Upton are appealing for donations of money and in kind to transform their every day community centre into a magical world that will generate excitement for their children and give them a boost.
A five-strong committee is organising a Christmas party with a polite request for help in providing decorations, food for the buffet and toys for the children. One of the aims is to bring three sets of wives closer together following a reorganisation that has seen families uprooted from Belfast, Germany and North Yorkshire.
Helen Boffy’s husband Lance Corporal Matt Boffy is on a UN peacekeeping mission in Cyprus at the moment in common with another 212 service personnel from Chester-based 2 Mercian Regiment.
The mother of two, previously posted in Northern Ireland, said: “As we unite now in Chester and the atmosphere for us is much improved, we want to hold a party to bring everyone together and to celebrate the relative freedom we now enjoy in Chester.
“Our husbands will, once again, be away on tour this year at Christmastime and this event will give the wives a much needed focus so that we can look forward to Christmas. We would like to ask you to help us by donating to our Christmas party which will be held on 6th December at the barracks.
“Contributions towards the buffet by way of food items would be much appreciated, as would any monetary donations so that we can transform our community centre with decorations to make it more special for this event.”
Many of the wives have experienced their husbands being away in war zones like Afghanistan, not knowing whether their loved ones would return in one piece. Cyprus should be much safer but the growing threat of terrorism at home looms large in the minds of some army wives, especially after the murder of soldier Lee Rigby outside army barracks in Woolwich and the targeting of socalled soft targets.
Tammy Busby, a mother of whose two, whose husband Private Jamie Busby is in Cyprus, has experienced terrorism in Northern Ireland. “I was on Belfast camp when it was bombed, so for me, they still got to me even though I lived in the wire.”
For Christine Bertram, originally from Saughall in Chester, this will be the third Christmas her husband Matthew has been away, as she looks after their two young children.
She said: “My little boy thinks his dad is with Father Christmas at the minute, helping him. That’s how we get around it, so him seeing Father Christmas at the do, he will be really excited.”
Lisa Bacon’s husband Sergeant Andrew Bacon is a bomb disposal expert attached to 2Mercian. The mother-of-three said of the party: “It’s a good opportunity to meet each other wives, other people in the same boat and people with children.”
Explaining the effect on young minds when fathers are away, she said her four-year-old girl told her nursery teacher back in February that her daddy “wasn’t coming back”.
Mum of two Kelly McLoughlin, married to Corporal Gary McLoughin, said: “My little girl has started asking ‘When’s daddy coming home? When’s daddy coming home?’”
Unit welfare officer Captain Jason Peach said: “Most of them have not got family support around here, husband then disappears and goes away. We get the easy job, it’s these lot that have the hard job picking up the pieces.”
Anyone willing to donate can contact supporter Julie Dove by emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Any cheques should be payable to ‘“Mercian Central Bank’.