Norfolk soldiers’ online support group doubles membership in year

Norfolk soldiers' online support group doubles membership in year

An online support group set up to help families of soldiers from 1st Battalion the Royal Anglian Regiment, which recruits soldiers in Norfolk, has doubled its membership in a year.

Also known as the Vikings, the regiment has served with honour in Afghanistan and is due to return to the country in 2012.

The Viking FSG (Family Support Group) was set up two years ago by Alison Burgess, pictured, whose two sons served in Afghanistan.

Since then, members of the online group have regularly met to help and support each other through troubled times.

During the last tour of Afghanistan, which ran from October last year to April, five soldiers from the regiment based in Pirbright, Surrey, lost their lives.

The battalion had 400 soldiers deployed across Helmand Province, working with three different battle groups.

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Mrs Burgess, from Bury St Edmunds, said; 'The total membership of the group about a year ago was 300 but we now have 684.

'Families and loved ones of soldiers who were serving on the last tour joined the group because they wanted to meet others in the same boat and share their experiences and help each other out.

'Five soldiers died during the last tour of duty and others came home with life-threatening injuries, so it was a time of worry and concern. The group has been able to support people through those difficult times.

'Speaking to others in similar positions helped to bear the burden a bit more easily.

'We are constantly getting new members and others are leaving when their loved ones leave the army.'

Members of the group are meeting up for a Christmas meal and carol service in Bury St Edmunds. For more information about the group and events visit http://www.vikingfsg.co.uk.