Soldiers to parade through Bolton to thank town for sending 'comfort boxes to Afghanistan
A SPECTACULAR military parade could be staged in Bolton to thank the people of the town for their support for soldiers serving in Afghanistan.
The Royal Artillery Association (RAA) wants to stage a medal parade in the town in the new year to recognise the efforts of the people of Bolton in coordinating the country’s biggest campaign to send “comfort boxes” to troops in Afghanistan.
By the end of the year around 13,000 boxes filled with necessities and luxuries worth more than £120,000 will have been dispatched from the Bolton barracks after veteran Jack Dixon, who served as a sergeant with the Royal Artillery Association, started an appeal in 2006.
Twice a year, including at Christmas, he has co-ordinated the dispatch of boxes to Afghanistan — 400 went in May and 600 will leave in December to bring troops some festive cheer.
Mr Dixon, who lives in Breightmet, has received scores of letters from soldiers thanking him for the boxes which they said provided a morale boost knowing that people are thinking of them.
Now he has received a letter from The Chestnut Troop, RAA, indicating the regiment’s desire to march in Bolton.
The letter said: “Thank you so much for the kind idea of sending me a comfort box that was donated during my tour of Afghanistan. I would also like to express my thanks from a number of members of The Chestnut Troop as your RAA was kind enough to donate comfy boxes to a number of my battery.
“It was a particularly kind gesture as The Chestnut Troop, RAA is from Sheffield.
“The battery will soon return from operations in Helmand, Afghanistan.
On the battery’s return it is our hope and aspiration to conduct our medals parade in Sheffield, then possibly parading through Bolton, with flags flying and guns on parade.
“It would be great to meet you and your association when we parade.”
The campaign to send comfort boxes will end in December following the news that troops are to be withdrawn from the country by the end of 2014.
Mr Dixon said: “I have responded to the letter and a parade would be marvellous for the people of Bolton who have been part of the appeal. I hope it does take place. This appeal was never about politics; it was about the soldiers and some of the letters of thanks I have received from the soldiers make you weep.
“I started the appeal because when I was in Malaya I received a box from my mother and it did lift my morale, knowing that I was being thought of.”
Anybody wanting to donate to the appeal should send their goods to C/o Jack Dixon, Artillery Barracks, Nelson Street, Bolton.
Cup-a-soups and non-per-ishable goods are needed.
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