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Help soldiers and dogs


On an internet discussion forum called UK Show Dogs, Shula Shipton of the Mishules Field Spaniels posted an email after reading of a military dog handler and his dog being killed. In the message she commented that she had sent a parcel to a friend serving in Afghanistan. Several other members of the web community, joined in to say they had family members serving in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, and how much the parcels are appreciated by members of the armed forces serving in these countries. Further requests from other members of the forum started to appear asking if they could also send parcels to service personnel.

Both Shula and Pauline Jackson (Druidale GSD) replied as both have been sending parcels for some time. The scheme called Surprise Supplies aims to send a parcel to every single member of the forces serving in Afghanistan or Iraq. Surprise Supplies came about because of an idea Lexi Douglas had whilst her son was serving in Afghanistan in 2007. She regularly sent him parcels. When her son wrote home he said how appreciated they were but that not everyone received parcels from home so he would share his out with them.

The web link for the scheme is
http://lairdkeir.spaces.live.com/blog/cns!81C2730497AD62BA!3752 Entry for those with out web access but would like to take part they can send parcels to A British Soldier, c/o Capt. S, Beattie MBE, HQ Task Force Helmand, Lashkar Gah, BFPO 715.

Parcels must not weigh over 2kgs, and the value of the contents should not cost more than £10. Parcels should be addressed to A British Soldier, but if you wish to send a parcel to a service woman please make this clear on the parcel. Pauline Jackson told Our Dogs, “I'm sending stuff directly to the Warrant Officer in charge of the Military Working Dog unit 104 in Afghanistan as he is a friend and a student of mine. He is spreading them out amongst his troops making sure that everyone gets something from home on a regular basis. In fact Ken Rowe (the dog handler killed the other week) received one of our parcels just before he died, so we know he'll have had a bit of a feast, small comfort. He was a great bloke as well, sadly missed. My college students are also involved and are sending parcels”.

If you wish to send one to the dog unit add TMWDSU (104 MWD Sp Unit) under a British soldier.The dogs like tennis balls, kongs on ropes etc, no chewies or treats though please.
Royal Mail will deliver the parcel free of charge to the British Forces Posting Office who will then ship it on to the relevant BFPO number. Padded jiffy bags and old shoe boxes are the best for packing things in but any kind of old cardboard box or packet will do. Use tissue paper, bubble wrap and anything light to stuff the package and stop things rolling around.

One of the main elements of this scheme is to provide a bit of variety. Therefore if you can, use your imagination to the full and think of a cross between Christmas stockings and tuck boxes and you will be on the right track. It is very hot in Afghanistan so please do not send things that melt such as chocolate. Alcohol (and pornography!) are forbidden but this still leaves plenty of goodies such as:

Biscuits, cake - homemade wonderful but bought wonderful too – but think long life like fruitcake, gingerbread or malt loaf. Anything in a tube, vacuum pack or tin to perk up their rather basic rations is great - toffee sauce, (M&S does a good range of savoury and sweet sauces in tubes) condensed milk, salsa dip and cheese straws, cream cheese, fish paste, chutneys, chorizo sausage, dried fruit and nuts, mint imperials, chewing gum and everyone loves Jelly Babies.
Soduko books and any kind of magazine will be very welcome, the more varied the better as there is lots of time for reading and magazines get swapped and shared around.

Candles (for illumination, not scent), lip salve, moisturiser, medicated talc, deodorant, toothpaste and cotton socks (M&S do a great range of cotton socks that are v. popular – black and olive green are good colours). They also have to drink vast quantities of water so any powder flavourings in a package like Berocca, Vitamin C sachets etc. would be both light and immensely appreciated. Finally old fashioned pick ‘n mix sweets are particularly recommended.

It was pointed out by both Shula and Pauline that “people sending parcels do not get to know who received their parcel, they can put their first names and an encouraging message but people must not sign their messages in the parcels with their surname and address details. We know how much the troops appreciate a package, and how it makes them appreciate that we are thinking of them all and praying that they come home safe. The rumour is that Afghanistan is going to be like N Ireland was, with the troops all doing several tours out there.”