Easter treat for Norfolk-based military families
- Credit: Neil Didsbury
Easter fun was the order of the day at a Norfolk Army base whose troops are, or are soon to be, deployed overseas.
A line of tables packed with more than 200 chocolate eggs was set up at Robertson Barracks in Swanton Morley, near Dereham, to provide soldiers' families a sweet treat.
A team from Dereham's Tesco Extra ran the giveaway and a member of bases' 1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards donned an Easter Bunny suit and greeted the youngsters.
Captain Trevor Homer, unit welfare officer, said: "As you can imagine it's quite difficult for the children when they've got parents away on deployment. This is an opportunity to bring some of those families out and about and demonstrate to them how they are supported by the local community. It's very kind of Tesco to volunteer and help us."
Troops from the Queen's Dragoon Guards are currently on duty in Kenya, Poland and Louisiana, undertaking exercises with the US military.
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Around 120 soldiers from the regiment - nicknamed the Welsh Cavalry - will be deployed to Mali in June as part of a UN peacekeeping mission, in response to a Jihadist insurgency in western Africa. About 150 children of military parents live at the barracks, and other families live off-base locally.
Among them are Laurel Hodson, whose husband, Sgt Luke Hodson, is already in Mali with the Light Dragoons.
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She said their daughters, Savannah, eight, and Evie, six, were delighted with the Easter treat.
Mrs Hodson said: "We've been on our own since November. The communication is pretty poor, but we just get on with it. My husband is based in Catterick, but I'm local, so I was able to come back home. It's really nice that we can come and join in with everyone else here, we're really lucky."
Sandra Hopkins was also there with daughters Lydia, nine, and Scarlett, 12. Her husband, Warrant Officer Second Class Ross Hopkins, is on deployment in Louisiana.
Mrs Hopkins said: "In the past year we've not been able to do what we normally would as a regiment, so it's lovely to see everybody come out.
"Even if it's just to chat to people for a few minutes and see where the're at. The community comes together when something like this happens so it's really nice to have Tesco on hand who support what were doing."