Hundreds of boxes of gifts are being delivered to Afghanistan for Christmas after an appeal to bring some festive cheer to troops fighting the Taliban.
People across Birmingham, Solihull and the Black Country have donated presents such as chocolate, sweets, toiletries, magazines, socks and other basics in shoebox-size parcels.
The generous response followed an appeal by Lieutenant Chris Moore, a 27-year-old Royal Naval Reservist from Olton, Solihull, who is being supported by his employer Pertemps People Development Group after being released for duty.
His managing director Steve King said: "As a company we applaud the idea of allowing Chris to serve his country abroad. He's undertaking a pivotal role in defending the right to freedom. The response to his appeal has been overwhelming - from the public as well as our own staff. We could never have envisaged such a generous response and our offices been inundated with gifts from well-wishers who want to show their support for the troops out in Afghanistan."
Chris is employed as a sports coach but is currently serving as a communications officer at a NATO base in Kandahar along with 15,000 troops from around the world after volunteering to help the British forces.
Colleagues at PPDG offices across the city, in Solihull and West Bromwich also donated parcels which are on their way to Chris. On Christmas Day he plans to hand out the gifts to troops from countries including Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Italy, Bulgaria and the US.
Staff recently gathered at PPDG's Yardley offices to wrap more than 200 parcels. Georgina Murphy, deputy centre manager at PPDG's Yardley Advancement Centre, said: "We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of the people throughout the West Midlands in supporting this appeal.
"We would like to thank United Footwear in Stratford Road, Sparkhill, for providing the bulk of the boxes we used to package the gifts and also the management and staff of Yardley Post Office and Redfern Road Sorting office for their assistance. Without their support and the generous donation received this appeal would not have been so successful."
Chris said: "I'm extremely grateful to everyone that has contributed. The aim of the appeal was to give people an opportunity to show their appreciation for the work being done by the troops in Afghanistan. It allows people to show that they understand what they are doing - that they are away for Christmas, that they haven't been able to see their families for several months, and most people appreciate what they are doing.
"We are trying to build a safer, more secure world and we are willing to put ourselves in a certain amount of danger to make sure that the people back home don't have to. Many of the lads here are kids of 17 and 18, just out of basic training. They're sent out to fight the Taliban in Helmand province and then come back here where they do light duties and get their heads back together. It will be great to be able to distribute the donated items on Christmas Day and put smiles on a few faces."
Chris is a Naval Reservist based at HMS Forward in Birmingham. His role at the Regional Command HQ in Kandahar is as a battle space information manager. He joined PPDG in 2002 after leaving the Royal Navy and now works as a coach and mentor for Pertemps Coachright.