A CHRISTMAS campaign to bring festive cheer to troops serving in Afghanistan has been backed by Coronation Street star Simon Gregson.

The actor, who plays Steve MacDonald in the soap, is supporting Second World War veteran Jack Dixon’s seasonal parcel appeal to send presents to soldiers serving with the Lancashire regiment of the Royal Artillery in Afghanistan in time for Christmas.

Mr Dixon, a member of Bolton’s Royal Artillery Association, said: “I wrote to a number of celebrities and clubs but only heard from Simon.”

And Mr Dixon warned that unless the people of Bolton get behind him, the number of parcels being sent over this year will be the lowest since the parcel drop started in 2008.

Mr Dixon, of Halliwell, said: “It will be a tight squeeze just filling the 500, to ensure every soldier in the regiment gets a parcel. It will be lowest number we will have sent.

“In previous years, we have sent 1,200 boxes which have been given to soldiers in other regiments.”

He added: “I know times are very difficult and you can’t keep asking the same people and we need one big push from Bolton people because we are short of stuff to send.

“Imagine being away from your family at Christmas — what would getting a parcel mean to you with a letter and a Christmas card? Knowing people are thinking of them and supporting them raises morale.”

Goods such as sweets, chocolates, instant soups, razors, tea, coffee and roll-on deodorants are needed.

Mr Dixon and his team are now in the process of filling the specially bought boxes to be “posted” by the start of December.

Businesses such as Splendour have supported the local Christmas campaign, as well as individuals including a woman in her eighties who donated £200.

Donations can be sent to Jack Dixon, Bolton Royal Artillery Association, Nelson Street, Bolton, BL3 2JW or call 01204 531101.