Uttlesford community thanked by soldiers returning from Afghanistan
- Credit: Archant
SOLDIERS returning from Afghanistan paid tribute to the help and support of the Uttlesford community at a homecoming party in Saffron Walden Town Hall.
Servicemen from 21 Field Squadron (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) of 101 Engineer Regiment had their first opportunity to meet up as a squadron after the last remaining soldiers returned home from their latest tour last week.
Capt Sebastian Bezdel addressed the squadron, based at Carver Barracks, and thanked local businesses for their “behind the scenes” work in supporting the tour.
“Being an Essex boy and having family in Saffron Walden I knew a lot about the connection between the barracks and the community. What I didn’t appreciate is just how deep rooted the connection is and how much support forces stationed here get,” he said.
“This has deepened further since the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, during which we have suffered many casualties. The community has stepped up and the massive support we have had has been truly humbling. It has never wavered and remains just as critical as it has ever been.”
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Capt Bezdel told the packed hall this support was underlined by the generosity of people raising money for the Carver Barracks Injured Soldiers Fund.
He added: “There is no doubt in my mind about how important this money is and the difference it can make to individuals. On its last tour in 2010, 21 Field Squadron suffered numerous serious casualties. Many of the people in this room saw how this fund helped soldiers in their recovery and continues to do so now.
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“Tonight is our chance to come out here into Saffron Walden town centre and personally thank everybody in the community for their help and support.”
Graeme Procter of Saffron Apparel, Jeremy and Trisha Rose of Creative Solutions in Newport, Susie Diggons and Scott Cordall from Tesco on Radwinter Road and Mel Maycock from Waitrose were all presented with a plaque as a thank you for the support each business provided. David Lincoln from the Royal British Legion, Rod and Tina Scott, who run a small-bore rifle club in Kent and Andrew Gilliar of Saffron Walden Round Table also accepted plaques from Capt Bezdel.
One of the soldiers who returned last month is Lt Laurence Robins. He said the evening had been the squadron’s first chance to bond as a group since arriving home.
“It’s great for the guys to spend some time together because we’ve all been filtering back slowly over the last couple of months. But this is not only about that, it is also a way of thanking everybody in the community for their support,” he explained.
“People being thoughtful means a lot when you’re away and when you get something from someone you don’t know it is a poignant moment. We have no idea about everything that goes on behind the scenes while we’re away but it is all really appreciated.”
Commanding officer Lt Col Simon Stockley told the Reporter: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen a community that is so supportive. We have a unique role and affiliation which has been developed with the local community and that is very humbling. We are very much appreciative of that and tonight is a great example of saying thank you back, which is important.”