Good wishes and gifts help spread the festive cheer

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When you’re away from your loved ones, any reminder of home can mean so much, and that’s especially true at Christmas.

All those who have sent parcels and cards to troops serving on the frontline in Afghanistan won’t receive a gift themselves in return.

But the kindness and care shown by their gesture means so much more than any present under the tree can represent.

It must be hard enough to face long periods away from your family at the best of times.

So it’s not surprising that our soldiers, sailors and airmen feel the pangs of separation more keenly at this special time of year.

As we get ready to enjoy precious time with our family and friends, we must spare a thought for all those who will spend their Christmas Day thousands of miles away in difficult and dangerous circumstances.

And of course we hope that by giving them the chance to send their own messages home, we can also help bring some comfort to those who have been left behind to get on with the celebrations without them.

Soldiers from First Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment have revealed how they help each other get through the festive season.

It’s good to see that morale is kept up with the aid of secret Santas and the 47th regiment Royal Artillery even plan to sing some carols.

Let’s not forget that it’s not only soldiers who are away on deployment at the moment. The Royal Navy is also playing its part around the world.

The work that our brave service men and women are doing can not be underestimated.

Those in Afghanistan have faced a particularly challenging time as they continue to try and bring some stability to the region.

We must all hope that our troops don’t have to spend too many more Christmases there, as the date for this country’s withdrawal from Afghanistan draws ever closer.

Until then, we wish them all a very merry Christmas and hope the knowledge that there are others thinking of them spreads some festive cheer.