The names of Freshbrook and Windmill Hill primary schools, now combined as Millbrook, will continue to live on outside the RAF base at Kandahar after the school decided to pass on their old football kits.
In October Swindon mayor Steve Wakefield made an appeal for kit to give RAF personnel the chance to encourage community development by setting up football teams.
“Squadron Leader Mike Neville at RAF Lyneham has told me that his people are setting up a school outside the base and they need all the help they can get to break down barriers and encourage Afghans to take up opportunities to learn,” said the mayor.
Maurice Watson, Millbrook’s site manager and football coach, said Swindon Link magazine had come up with the answer he was looking for. “We read about the appeal and knew immediately we could help the mayor. We’ve been looking for a use for the shirts and the children immediately supported the idea that we help children in another community.
“Everybody is aware of the difficult work our military people are doing so we’re glad to encourage peace through football which is a worldwide language. We want the shirts to be a way for our soldiers to make contact with young people in Afghanistan and encourage peace.”
Coun Wakefield agreed that football is a universal language. “I’m very pleased Millbrook have helped the appeal. Afghanistan is a very poor and unstable country. Anything we can do for the people, especially the children, by reaching out into the communities, will break down barriers.”
Pictured above, the Mayor with Millbrook youngsters and the football strips being sent to Afghanistan, with Maurice Watson and headteacher Clare Griffin-Felton. Below, Maurice Watson helping the Mayor load up the official limo with Millbrook kit
On delivery of the sports kit, Flight Lieutenant Louise Daly, Media Communications Officer at RAF Lyneham said members of 1 Air Movements Wing will package the kit up and ensure that it gets delivered safely to Afghanistan. Serving personnel from Lyneham will take delivery of the kit in Kandahar. They will then ensure that it is distributed to the children in and around Kandahar when they are out on patrol. One of the key areas identified for development prior to deployment was integration with the villages in the area.
A Non Kinetic Effects Team (NKET) comprising RAF Regiment personnel was established. The aim of the team is to develop the integration of communities and assist with the countrywide aim of empowering the people of the country to be self-sufficient. One of the key ways in which the concerns and thoughts of the local communities are expressed to the team is by meeting with the elders in each village. The team has been welcomed into villages to discuss projects such as construction of water wells, repairs to roads and buildings and also the provision of aid. With winter due to set in the team have ensured sufficient supplies of warm clothing, food and fuel for fires have been delivered. The continuing success of the initiative has also assisted to establish a more secure area.
While returning from an aid delivery during October, the team became the first respondents to an accident involving a civilian car that had overturned and rolled down an embankment. The provision of timely first aid and onward conveyance to the hospital ultimately saved three of the four people that were injured; the fourth unfortunately sustained fatal injuries and died en route to hospital.
This level of active support to the community has raised the awareness to communities of the role we play in supporting the country.
Station Commander Group Captain Mike Neville, said, "this venture is an excellent example of the great respect that the general public have for our service personnel who are currently serving overseas. In sending sports kit for the children who live in the vicinity of our personnel in Afghanistan, we hope to influence their lives in a positive way. Lyneham deployed personnel are perfectly placed to distribute the kit since they have developed such great relationships with the local population. The fact that the Mayor of Swindon has taken it upon himself to speak to local schools and obtain such a large volume of kit is significant and very much appreciated."
Pictured left to right, Carole Deamer, Mayor's Secretary, Wing Commander Andy Killey (Officer Commanding Number 1 Air Movements Wing), Mayoress Debbie Wakefield, Mayor Councillor Steve Wakefield, Hywel Rees (Chairman Supermarine RFC), Group Captain Mike Neville (Station Commander RAF Lyneham.