Red carpet welcome for soldiers

RESIDENTS will roll out the red carpet to welcome home hundreds of soldiers who are serving in the increasingly hostile war-torn Afghanistan.Woodbridge Town Council is lining up events to thank members of the 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) from Rock Barracks, on the outskirts of the town, for their role overseas.

RESIDENTS will roll out the red carpet to welcome home hundreds of soldiers who are serving in the increasingly hostile war-torn Afghanistan.

Woodbridge Town Council is lining up events to thank members of the 23 Engineer Regiment (Air Assault) from Rock Barracks, on the outskirts of the town, for their role overseas.

The regiment moved into the £80million new barracks two years ago and quickly made friends with people from Woodbridge and the outlying area.

Last year more than 1,000 people lined the streets to watch the soldiers parade through the town in recognition of being given the Freedom of Woodbridge.


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Thousands of people attended a rain-hit open day at the barracks during which more than £11,000 was raised for a variety of charities.

There is no open day this year due to the regiment's operational duties abroad. Members of the regiment have been deployed on six-month tours of Afghanistan, leaving Rock Barracks in different months.

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The latest group of soldiers flew out a few days ago and since then the number of deaths of British soldiers in Afghanistan has risen to 100.

As revealed in yesterday's Evening Star, Woodbridge based solider Sapper Martin Little was injured in an attack which killed three of his colleages in the Upper Sangin Valley of South Afghanistan on Sunday.

Colchester-based soldiers Private Nathan Cuthbertson, 19, Private Daniel Gamble, 22 and Private Charles Murray, 19 were killed in the blast.

Sapper Little, 21, who serves with the 9 (Para) Squadron Royal Engineers which is based in Woodbridge, was flown back to the UK and is being treated at Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham. He is expected to make a good recovery.

Dates for the celebrations have yet to be confirmed but Woodbridge Town Council was told that there will be a parade through the town, a thanksgiving service at St Mary's Church and a large number of soldiers will attend Remembrance Day service.

There are also plans for a social event for the soldiers' partners and children, and shoeboxes with a few luxuries are being sent out to the regiment's squadrons.

Some of the town's shops are giving discounts to families and there is a grant from the Ministry of Defence to assist with costs incurred when mothers take their children out on day trips.

Les Binns, mayor of Woodbridge, said: “I think we have an excellent group of soldiers. They are very friendly, very forthcoming and very keen on forming a relationship with Woodbridge and its people.

“In return the town welcomes their presence and wishes them every success. A bond has been made between the town and soldiers in a very short space of time.”

n. Do you think enough is done to welcome our soldiers home? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or email eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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