Pupils from Holy Trinity School gave army medics a welcome Christmas surprise when they sent cards and gifts to cheer members of the Ministry of Defence Medical Unit as they worked to help victims of the deadly Ebola virus.
The crisis caused by Ebola has led to the Ministry of Defence Medical Unit being deployed to Sierra Leone in order to care for health workers who have caught the disease. Holy Trinity pupils came up with the idea of making sure that soldiers serving with the unit – who were away from their families for three months – had something to open on Christmas Day, after leading a school assembly about ‘hope’.
Holy Trinity teacher, Chela Wilson, whose brother-in-law is a medic in the army, coordinated the project, alongside art teacher, Louise Seagrave.
Chela explained how the idea had come about, after the pupils had seen the Sainsbury’s advert about the First World War soldiers at Christmas. “The kids were really quite moved by the theme of the Sainsbury’s advert and soldiers being away from home in tough places, so we decided to make and write cards for the soldiers in our British Forces who are away from their families at Christmas. Our aim was to give them some ‘Hope’. The parcels contained useful items for the soldiers, such as toiletries, which they often run out of and cannot replace as there are no shops nearby.”
The soldiers were overwhelmed by the packages and Chela was delighted to receive a phone call, asking for their thanks to be passed on, followed by an email and photograph from one of the soldiers who had received a parcel. Now back in the UK, Private Emma Caton told of how well the gifts had been received. She said, “The parcels absolutely lifted the spirits of everyone that received a surprise parcel from the children. Especially on Christmas Day, as not everyone had something sent out to open from their families. It was really heart-warming that the children had put time and effort to put them together to make us smile on Christmas Day. I’d like to say a massive thank you.”
Here are their comments.
“It was great when we heard that we got feedback from the soldiers. It was also good that they got cards for Christmas.”
“Knowing the soldiers in Sierra Leone had received our cards made me glad. It’s brilliant that we managed to make somebody happy over Christmas and when they replied, I was so surprised, but we were all very pleased.”
“It was lovely when they replied back to us.”
“I was relieved that they actually replied back to us and was grateful that they appreciated it and hope they had a wonderful Christmas.”
“I feel happy that they were grateful for our cards.”
“As a form, we thought of what we could do to bring hope to soldiers in Sierra Leone. We thought Christmas cards, containing poems and hopeful wishes, would tell them how much we appreciated their help. We were glad they were overjoyed!”
“I am happy that I brought a smile to someone’s face at Christmas. I feel like a ray of sunshine has shone on my life and hopefully others too.”
“It was really exciting when someone replied to us.”
“Christmas is an expectant time of waiting to celebrate Jesus’s birth. The soldiers spent their Christmas in Sierra Leone fighting Ebola. It was lovely to make the soldiers feel loved and feel the Christmas warmth and love they would have experienced from their family. It was an unexpected surprise when we received a reply from the soldiers, especially as they are so busy and our efforts have been appreciated.”
“I was very happy that they received our cards and liked them.”
“It was a nice way to show how we appreciate their work. It was also a touching reply.”