Monday, May 25, 2009
THE mother of a Derby soldier is urging shoppers to donate items such as deodorant, wet wipes, toothpaste and even tennis balls and Frisbees to send to troops serving in Afghanistan.
Paula Taylor has organised for a collection bin to be placed by the checkouts at the Somerfield store where she works in Bishop's Drive, Oakwood.
And in just over a week, generous shoppers have put in packets of biscuits, toiletries, soft drinks and sweets.
Mrs Taylor will send these to her son, Private Brendan Ogden, who is fighting in Helmand Province with the 2nd Mercian Battalion (Worcesters and Foresters).
He will share the goodies out between his colleagues.
Mrs Taylor, of Oakwood, says it will boost morale among the soldiers.
She came up with the idea for the collection after speaking with a colleague.
The go-ahead was given by store manager Stuart Humphris, whose nephew Ian Humphris is also fighting in the war-torn country.
Mother-of-six Mrs Taylor, 44, said: "I just felt I wanted to do something for those out there fighting.
"It is hard enough being the mum of a soldier, with the worry about what they are doing out there, so I wanted to do something to help.
"When Brendan found out, I think he was a bit embarrassed at first but he did ask for things like tennis balls and Frisbees – things to keep them amused."
Pte Ogden has been with the Woofers since he was 17.
The current six-month tour is his second in Afghanistan.
He is part of the AVA platoon, which provides protection for convoys of food and water being taken to remote army out-posts in the searing heat of Helmand Province.
During his last tour in Afghanistan, in 2006, he celebrated his 18th birthday.
On April 17 this year, he was there once again – this time for his 21st birthday.
Mrs Taylor said: "That's two landmark birthdays he's had and both times he's been in Afghanistan.
"I hear from him about once a fortnight but he calls his girlfriend more often, so I get to hear he's OK.
"Organising this has helped me try and keep my mind off what he is doing out there."
Mrs Taylor's five other children are Gemma Day, 25, Sadie Longdon, 18, Dayle Taylor, 17, Savanna Taylor, 16, and Pte Ogden's twin brother, Matthew.
Store manager Stuart Humphris, 49, said he was more than happy to help the troops.
He said: "I think it is important we show those men out there that people back home are thinking about them and the work they are doing."
Speaking on behalf of the regiment, Major Jez Jerome said it was good to see so much support for the troops.
He said: "I'm very happy to see the continuing support for the battalion, both from those who have friends and relatives out there, but especially from those people who are not directly connected to serving soldiers."