They may be based more than 50 miles away, but the close bond between the Light Dragoons and the town of Beccles has been growing.

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Members of the army regiment visited the town last year to say thank you for more than 200 shoeboxes which were sent to them while they were in Afghanistan.

And now a campaign has started to grant them the freedom of the town.

Jan Wild, of Heather Way, Worlingham, has launched a petition as a further way of thanking them for the work.

The regiment, which is based at Robertson Barracks, Swanton Morley, was given the freedom of Dereham last year, but now are calls are being made for a similar honour in the Suffolk market town.

Mrs Wild, together with her husband Graham, has helped to co-ordinate a shoebox appeal through the town’s Tesco branch and says a strong bond has been built through this and when some members of the regiment visited to say thank you.

“There are very few ways we can give our support to our troops, but this is one way we can do it,” she said. “They have formed an alliance with the people of Beccles, they are so popular. So I started a petition and everyone in Beccles has been behind it.”

Mrs Wild is hoping the town council will approve the move.

For the last year a trolley has been at the town’s Tesco store to allow shoppers and supermarket staff to donate goods to the troops.

Mrs Wild, 68, approached the store after being asked by a friend in the regiment about sending shoeboxes of goodies, but she could not believe how quickly the town took to it.

“It has been absolutely amazing, I can’t get over that we’ve sent so many items, over 200 boxes,” she said.

Sixteen of the Light Dragoons visited the town in November to pack bags in Tesco as a way of saying thank you for their support, before having lunch at the town’s Royal British Legion Club, which they gave a regimental plaque to.

Dave Devereux, chairman of the Beccles branch of the Royal British Legion, has also lent his support to the campaign.

“I think it will be an uplift for the town and show the rest of the country this town supports the young boys and girls and what they are fighting for,” he said.

Last week, two members from the regiment also visited Beccles Free School, in Carlton Colville, to thank them for sending 30 shoeboxes.

To sign the petition, visit the Royal British Legion charity shop in Smallgate, Beccles. Donations to the shoeboxes can still be given at Tesco.

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