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Weeklies provide Christmas boost for Our Boys

British soldiers stationed in Afghanistan will be receiving a welcome Christmas boost tomorrow thanks to the efforts of two Scottish weeklies.

The Glenrothes Gazette and East Fife Mail, in Levenmouth, galvanised their local populations in a competition in aid of Our Boys in Helmand.

They pitted their readers against each other to see who could raise the largest number of filled shoeboxes for soldiers away from home over Christmas.

The two communities managed to collect over 2,000 shoeboxes filled with goodies such as drinks, snacks and clothing, some of which will be handed out to troops on Christmas Day.

Army cadets attachments in both towns also took part and the appeal was supported by the charity Parcels4Troops.

A 25-minute documentary film has been made about the appeal, containing messages from editorial staff, MSPs and relatives of soldiers.

As well as being available to view on the papers’ websites, it will be shown at cinemas across the papers’ patches and DVDs have also been sent to troops.

One soldier in Northern Helmand, Sergeant Major Stephen W, wrote back to the Johnston Press-owned weeklies to express his gratitude.

“I was touched by the large amount of parcels that my Company received and wanted to reply personally to let you all know what a great deal this means to me and my men and women,” he wrote.

“We are saving your parcels for Christmas day. Please be assured your gifts mean a lot, and this Christmas Day you will be in our thoughts.”

In a joint statement, Gazette editor Gail Milne and Mail editor Jerzy Morkis said: “The generosity of our readers has been overwhelming. Many have been moved to tears over our appeal and the hundreds of messages sent to the troops include support from MPs and MSPs, 91-year-olds and two-year-olds.

“The local detachments of the Army Cadet Force and Parcels4Troops have been fantastic in collecting the donations and parcelling them up. It really has been a community effort.”