14 December 2005


More than 19,000 boxes packed full of gifts are being sent to service personnel deployed on operations this Christmas, Under Secretary of State for Defence Don Touhig MP announced today.

The last few boxes - or ‘square stockings’- will leave RAF Fairford tomorrow, and will be distributed to British bases in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans as a way of saying thanks to service personnel for their hard work and commitment.

Don Touhig was at Wellington Barracks in London this morning where he helped load the last the boxes into a truck bound for the airport.

He thanked the sponsors and trustees of charity UK4UThanks! for donating the boxes and the Armed Forces for transporting them all over the world in time for Christmas.

Mr Touhig said:

“Christmas can be a difficult and lonely time for our personnel away from home at Christmas. They are doing an important and often dangerous job on our behalf. We want to make their Christmas as festive as possible.

“Following the very positive feedback we received from many of those who received a Christmas Box last year, we were delighted when UK4UThanks! was able to repeat a similar venture this year.  I am pleased that our Armed Forces have been able to facilitate their production and delivery of the boxes.”

The boxes, which were also delivered last year, recall the gesture of the 17 year old Princess Mary, daughter of King George V and Queen Mary in 1914 when she introduced the idea that everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas day should receive ‘a gift from the nation’.

Everyone receiving one of the boxes also has the chance this year of winning prizes through a draw that will take place in the New Year.

Notes to Editors

1.  The charity, UK4UThanks!, was established earlier this year after last year’s box – the first for 90 years – was so well received by British troops.

2.  The Armed Forces Christmas Box 2005 is sponsored by BAe Systems, Finmeccanica, Kellogg Brown and Root (Halliburton), Quench, Serco, Simmers, Supreme, Westland, Westler Foods Ltd, Worshipful Company of Carmen, Worshipful Company of Cooks of London, and Xpediency.

3.  The ‘square stockings’ are filled with a variety of  items, some of which will come in handy everyday, others intended to put a smile on the faces of those who receive them.

4.  A box has been sent to every location where there are Armed Forces currently serving on operational tours of duty overseas; these include current theatres such as Iraq and Afghanistan and other locations such as the Falkland Islands, Ascension Islands and Diego Garcia. Each individual member of the military and MoD civil servants serving in these locations will be provided with a box. The Defence Logistics Organisation has transported the boxes within the existing logistics supply chain using irreducible spare capacity.

5.  The Armed Forces Christmas Box augments the Operational Welfare Package (OWP) provided by the MoD. The OWP is provided to members of the Armed Forces deployed to operational theatre or exercises of two months duration or more. It includes free phone calls, postal services, Internet access and a range of other benefits. An extra 20 minutes of publicly funded phone calls and a free postal packet service are provided for those deployed over Christmas, as well as a number of additional food lines and other items of Christmas fayre.

6. Additional images of the packing and planning process are available upon request from production@publicity.mod.uk. Supporting imagery and audio suitable for broadcast are available through www.thenewsmarket.com

7.  For further information, please contact Liane Farrer, Defence Press Office on 020 7218 1534 or Stuart Campbell, DLO Press Office 07795 127697.

8.  The MoD web-site can be found at http://www.mod.uk.

9.  Alternatively you may contact the MoD Press Office by e-mail at dnewspol@dgics.mod.uk.


Last Updated: 16 Dec 05