Former Norwich City legend visits Suffolk servicemen

Canaries legend Darren Huckerby immersed himself in RAF life yesterday as he took time to support local servicemen.

The former Norwich City star learnt about all aspects of military life when he visited RAF Honington as part of a fun day for the 15 Squadron RAF Regiment before it flies out to Afghanistan next month.

He was able to try out full battle dress, fire weapons on a computerised rifle range, learn how to cook with rations, erect a bivvy, and witnessed sniper training as well as taking part in a physical training session.

The highlight of the day for many was a charity football match in which the legendary player pitted his skills against more than 40 gunners of the regiment, who all donated to the Darren Huckerby Trust.

The charity provides support for local charities, community projects and individuals across Norfolk and aims to make a difference to the lives of people living in the county.

Huckerby, who arrived at Norwich City in 2003, said: 'These guys in the RAF regiment do a fantastic job and they're shortly going away to risk their lives for Queen and country so this is the very least I can do to show my own personal support for them.

'It's my way of giving a little bit back; they do such a great job for everybody. It's not really about the charity, it's about having a good day to support the regiment.'

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During the morning Huckerby was given a demonstration of how to prepare a cup or tea or coffee using just a ration pack by senior aircraft men Michael Keightley and Simon Baldwin and how to protect himself while sleeping in hostile conditions.

Flight Sergeant Steve Harrison said: 'The fact he's put himself out to come down and spend a bit of time with us is great and I know it's heartfelt when he talks about the services. 'It's nice for us too because we've had a lot of footballers looking forward to having a kick about and it's given us an opportunity to raise some money for the Darren Huckerby Trust.'

The football match raised around �200 for the charity as each player paid �5 for the privilege of playing with Huckerby and despite the excitement the atmosphere was friendly as everybody tried to avoid injury just weeks before their deployment.

The servicemen of 15 Squadron RAF Regiment will leave for Kandahar airbase in Afghanistan in the middle of November and are due to return in June next year.

Flt Sgt Harrison, who has served for 26 years, added: 'When I came back from the Gulf war we didn't know what response we would get but nowadays the press and the public are so behind the services it's heartwarming at times.

'It's hard to explain to a civilian because they've never been in those circumstances but the support means a lot. We build up training for five months before we go but it's what we do.

'I always say a mechanic fixes cars, a butcher cuts meat and a soldier does his job.'

To donate to the Darren huckerby Trust go online to www.darrenhuckerbytrust.co.uk or to get involved with the trust, contact Darren Huckerby at enquiries@darrenhuckerbytrust.co.uk.