A British Army chaplain from Sidmouth has proved a hit with paratroopers in Helmand Province, handing out crosses made from the wire-mesh that surrounds their base.
Padre Robin Richardson (40) â€“ a member of 3rdBattalion The Parachute Regiment â€“ has been serving in Afghanistan for the last six months.
Padre Robin Richardson
â€œTowards the beginning of the tour, some of the lads asked me if I had some crosses I could give them,â€ he said. â€œI found a few at Camp Bastion, and I gave them out. I ran out very quickly.â€
â€œSo I wandered around our camp at Shahzad, trying to find something I could fashion into a cross. And I noticed some discarded Hesco wire, and I saw lots and lots of crosses.â€
The wire normally makes up part of the Hesco Bastion fortified walls â€“ mesh containers with thick liners filled with gravel â€“ that surround military bases across Afghanistan.
â€œI got busy with some bolt-cutters and a hammer and a drill,â€ said Robin. â€œAnd I started making small crosses out of the discarded wire.â€
â€œA lot of the lads have asked if they can have one,â€ he said. â€œAnd theyâ€™ve been wearing them, and understanding a bit about what lies behind it.â€
Robin is due to finish his tour and return to the UK on Easter Sunday.
â€œIâ€™ve got three sons, aged 13, 11 and 7, and theyâ€™re fab,â€ he said. â€œThey give my heart a reason for beating every morning.â€
â€œThe thing Iâ€™ve missed the most has been their smiles,â€ he added. â€œThe first thing Iâ€™ll do when I get home is give them a hug.â€