Caring Doncaster schoolkids mission to help British troops overseas

Youngsters from a Doncaster Primary school have rallied to make sure there is some Christmas cheer for British soldiers abroad this year.  

Sandringham Primary School was the only school in Doncaster to respond to an appeal by the Doncaster 1914-18 project to create ‘comfort packs’ which will be sent out to troops on duty overseas over the festive period.

Soldiers arrive at Cusworth Hall Museumin Doncaster to collect comfort packs from Sandringham Primary School pupils, for soldiers in the Middle East. They have been made in the style of those sent during WW1 a century ago. '19th October 2018.

Soldiers arrive at Cusworth Hall Museumin Doncaster to collect comfort packs from Sandringham Primary School pupils, for soldiers in the Middle East. They have been made in the style of those sent during WW1 a century ago. '19th October 2018.

The organisation, which was set up to mark the 100th anniversary of World War One in the borough, wrote to schools asking if they were interested in joining their appeal, because youngsters in the borough put together similar packs for soldiers 100 years ago.

Read more: Doncaster in the days before Armistice 1918
Read more: The long journey home for Doncaster’s soldiers, Armistice Day 1918

Read more: Doncaster 1914-18 project revealing a woman’s role during WWI 

And this week, youngsters from the school in Intake joined soldiers from a Doncaster based infantry unit to load up the parcels they had put together for the journey abroad.

Capt Benjamin Claire, who is in command of the troops serving with  Y Battalion, The Rifles, based at Danum Road, Doncaster, joined them to load up the army truck with boxes, decorated with a festive picture designed by Doncaster College students.

He said there would be British forces in the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe over Christmas.

He knows how important receiving packages from home is, having served in Afghanistan in 2008, where he received packages from family friends, and charities.

He said: “There were often things out there that were difficult to get, things like shower gel, toiletries, books, and little travel games.

“It really boosts morale when you get something from people that you don’t know. You realise there are people who are thinking about you, and are willing to go out of their way to help you.

“It means a lot to see the children down here.”

Teacher Emily Smithard took the youngsters to Cusworth Hall to help pack donated items into boxes, and to fill in labels saying that the donations had come from their school.

Children at the school had donated items to put in the boxes. Other items were donated by businesses, and around £1,200 was raised to 

Mrs Smithard said: “The children collected items and were then invited to help pack them. They have loved it, and they’ve been beaming.

“We’re really proud of them.”

Sam Armstrong, community engagement worker for Doncaster 1914-18 said they took advice from the army on what to include in the packages. She said they were pleased with the efforts, and there would be Christmas decorations and Christmas puddings in the packs as well as toiletries, playing cards, snacks, puzzle books.