Sunday, March 8, 2009

Website will keep our boys in touch - Evening Telegraph

FAMILIES and friends of soldiers serving in Afghanistan can post messages of support, pictures and even videos on a new website launched by the Evening Telegraph.

The site, which can be found at /mercian, will contain every article we write on the Woofers before, during and after their six-month tour of duty in Helmand Province.

An essential tool in helping to maintain contact with the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment (Worcesters & Foresters), it will provide links to their official website, which tells the history of the regiment from 1694.

More than 400 members of the battalion, including around 100 from Derbyshire, are due to fly out during the next few weeks.

And just as loved ones back home can leave messages, our boys in the searing heat of the Afghanistan desert will also be able to log on and post messages and pictures to their friends and families.

Steve Hall, editor of the Evening Telegraph, said: "We believe it is vital that we help maintain the links between those fighting in Afghanistan and their loved ones back home.

"The regiment has had a link with Derbyshire for more than 300 years and it is vital we show our boys that everyone back home appreciates what they are doing for us out in Helmand Province.

"Providing this dedicated website and giving them the maximum coverage we can is the least we can do for their efforts."

Second Lieutenant Josh Vause, from Allestree, will be flying out as part of a small advance party on Friday.

The 23-year-old's mother and father, Fran and Peter, said they would be logging on to our site to look out for messages.

Peter, 56, said: "I think it's a brilliant idea. It will be a very important and essential link between the lads and their families and friends back home.

"As long as they can get to a laptop, it's another way to keep in touch and make them feel they are being supported."

This will be the 2nd Battalion the Mercian Regiment's third tour of duty in Afghanistan.
On their last tour, in 2007, they lost nine of their number – three from Derbyshire.

They were Drummer Thomas Wright, 21, from Ripley, Private Ben Ford, 18, of Chesterfield, and Private Brian Tunnicliffe, 33, originally from Ilkeston.

Major Jez Jerome took a look at our website yesterday and said it ticked all of the boxes as far as the regiment was concerned.

He said: "We are extremely grateful to the people of the counties where we come from for all of their support.

"The recognition that the Evening Telegraph gave us on our last tour was superb, both before we went, while we were out there and when we came back."

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