About FOOF and the support campaign...
The origins of Cotford St. Luke's "Friends Of Our Forces" lie in our proximity to the 40 Commando camp, a mere mile away. During their 2010 tour to Afghanistan some villagers got together to bring to their neighbours attention the number of Royal Marines from the camp who lived amongst us, leaving their wives and children alone whilst they went off to fight on our behalf. The village shop agreed to provide a collection point and many villagers subsequently donated "goodies" to be packed into shoeboxes and sent, free of charge, to the front. It's true - shoebox-sized parcels of less than 2kg can be sent via Royal Mail to BFPO addresses in active combat theatres for free! Cotford's care packages were sent to the 40 Cmdo chaplain in theatre and he saw that they were fairly distributed amongst the front line platoons so that they could all share in the sweets, snacks, biscuits, toiletries and other gifts from home that people thought would make life more bearable, bring cheer or just generally let the Marines know that they weren't out there isolated, ignored and un-thought of. When they came back some of us realised that they weren't the only servicemen living amongst us and when these others deployed we obtained a BFPO address and sent several more parcels to 42 Cmdo frontline units care of our 42 Cmdo neighbour. Subsequently, in acknowledgement that when "our boys" come back "someone else's boys" go out what was unofficially and informally Cotford St. Luke's "Friends of 40 Commando" morphed into this new, more organised and broader-reaching "Friends Of Our Forces" group.
We look to source BFPO addresses* of in-theatre units - typically by approaching the chaplain or welfare officer to see if they would like to share theirs - and we ask that you, our fellow villagers, continue the fine support you've already shown so that we can give a little comfort to other units when they are living in those basic and dusty conditions "at the sharp end," far from home and family. Additionally, we seek to continue our support for our own 40 Cmdo lads and lasses whenever we can, whenever and wherever they are deployed to a qualifying theatre - and occasionally when they are at home, too. We also have another avenue available to us, as we have been in contact with the Support Our Soldiers charity, who we can deliver parcels to for wider distribution in Afghanistan.
It takes about five days for a box to arrive in theatre and a couple more days for them to make it from the rear to the forward camps. When we send a batch we'll put a notification on this site and the village forum. We'll also put a card in each box so the beneficiaries know it was from our village group. We already have sources for shoeboxes (but we'll happily take yours off your hands if you've no use for them).
We'll be putting as much information as we can on what we've received on the Stuff We've Sent page along with which units are benefitting from Cotford's support at any given time. Obviously, it would be inappropriate to share contact and other private information** but we will publish any messages that we may receive on this site unless requested otherwise by the authors and we can put any goodwill messages you may like to convey on the site, too.
The organisers (Mar', Tom & others) are happy to answer your questions and queries in regard to donations via the contact e-mail, which we all have access to. Or, if you know one of the organisers, feel free to waylay us and ask direct.
It's nice to be nice...
* We will not publish this or other private information, nor will we pass it on to others - period.
** We have decided to operate a policy whereby we cut down names to rank and surname initial if we refer to any servicemen and to remove specific details in the interests of the safety and security of our servicepeople. There are groups that arrange "pen pal" links with troops in the field and we're not seeking to duplicate their work.