Ex-Felixstowe woman leaves son for Gulf

FORMER Felixstowe woman Cheryl Thompson said a tearful farewell to her toddler son as she joined the reserve forces today heading for the Gulf.The 34-year-old lawyer was having to leave her 18-month old son Jake at home as she prepared to fly to the Middle East as part of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as the build-up to the war against Iraq continued.

FORMER Felixstowe woman Cheryl Thompson said a tearful farewell to her toddler son as she joined the reserve forces today heading for the Gulf.

The 34-year-old lawyer was having to leave her 18-month old son Jake at home as she prepared to fly to the Middle East as part of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force as the build-up to the war against Iraq continued.

Mrs Thompson, a Norfolk council legal assistant, was issued with kit at 2620 (County of Norfolk) Squadron's base at RAF Marham, where Ipswich-based financial adviser and reservist Wing Cdr Gary Bunkell is commanding officer.

Mrs Thompson, one of 1,000 reservists mobilised by the Ministry of Defence, never thought she would go to war when she joined the territorial air force 15 years ago and was not looking forward to leaving her son.


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"On the motherhood and family side I am absolutely dreading it," she said.

"I am going to miss him so much. I worry that he is going to have such a difficult time while I am away.

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"He is just being toilet-trained at the moment and when I get back he will probably be toilet-trained.

"It's going to be very hard . . . but I hope he will be proud of me and forgive me these months away from him."

Mrs Thompson, who works for King's Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council and spends much of her time prosecuting in the civil courts, said she joined the Royal Auxiliary Air Force because she thought it would be "something different" and never imagined being called up for war.

"I am not scared. I am apprehensive. But with the training we have had there is no reason why we will not be able to do a good job," she added.

Mrs Thompson, who moved to King's Lynn from Felixstowe in 1988, will leave her son in the care of her husband, Alan, 40, a refrigeration fitter and former member of the Royal Auxiliary Air Force.

"We have made plans in case I don't come back but I am confident that I will be coming back," said Mrs Thompson

The main role of the 2620 squadron, whose part-time service men and women come from a wide range of civilian jobs, will be to protect aircraft and landing strips during any conflict in the Gulf.

Financial consultant Wing Cdr Gary Bunkell, a former pupil of Northgate High, Ipswich, and who now lives in Capel St Mary, said: "We train one night a week and one weekend a month and also go on a two-week annual training camp.

"Our role will be to integrate and work with the regular forces there and I am confident that we will do a good job."

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