Test stars band together to help back soldiers

CELIA WIGG England's top cricketers showed their support for East Anglia's soldiers by wearing wristbands in their honour during a recent Test match, it emerged last night.

CELIA WIGG

England's top cricketers showed their support for East Anglia's soldiers by wearing wristbands in their honour during a recent Test match, it emerged last night.

The gesture of solidarity, which went almost unnoticed, happened from July 19 to 23 during the first Test against India at Lord's.

The team publicly displayed solidarity with the Royal Anglian Regiment, which has suffered nine deaths and more than 50 injuries since being deployed to Helmand province in Afghanistan in April.


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Among the England players who turned out for the exciting drawn Test were Michael Vaughan, Kevin Pietersen, Monty Panesar and Alistair Cook.

The bands, which are dark blue with the words “proud to support our troops” in yellow and a union flag on either side, were designed by students at Stamford School in Lincolnshire.

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Pupils, many of whom are from service families, persuaded the team to wear the wristbands as it became clear how perilous the battle against insurgents was becoming.

The youngsters are selling the wristbands on the internet to raise money for the Royal Anglian Afghanistan Memorial Fund.

The fund is for the families of those killed, and to give financial aid to those who have been injured. It aims to enable soldiers to continue their military careers, rather than being medically discharged from the Army.

Stamford School housemaster Richard Brewster said the school had one of the largest combined cadet forces in the country, and two of the teachers were ex-servicemen, including a Falklands veteran.

This inspired the youngsters, who designed their own website - www.supportingourtroops.co.uk - to sell the bands, which cost £2 plus postage. Orders are flooding in from across the UK and beyond.

Mr Brewster said: “We have received wonderful support from the England cricket team who wore them this summer in the Test series with India.

“The website has produced great interest and the majority of sales are from parents, friends and relations of service personnel serving with the Royal Anglian Regiment in Afghanistan, who have had a very difficult time.

“We are getting a lot of hits and we have even had a request from America today, so the word is getting around,”

t Anyone wanting to donate to the fund can make cheques payable to CB 1 R Anglian and send them to Major R.C. Barrett, Treasurer, 1 R Anglian Afghanistan Memorial Fund, Elizabeth Barrack, Pirbright, Surrey, GU24 0DT.

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