British Army troops are wishing Merry Christmas to everyone in Merseyside after an heroic year in the fight against COVID-19.
Two thousand soldiers were deployed in Liverpool last month where they led a pilot mass Coronavirus testing programme that was supported by huge numbers of local residents.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the first ever such scheme “has the potential to be a powerful new weapon in our fight against COVID-19”.
It proved to be so successful that it helped to drive down Coronavirus cases across the Liverpool City Region, enabling the area to escape the strict national lockdown and into less restrictive Tier 2 measures in the run-up to Christmas.
The mass testing programme is now being rolled out in other areas of the country after the hugely successful British Army testing operation in Liverpool.
The troops who were involved in the process were stationed at Altcar Training Camp in Hightown, Liverpool and at Pontins Holiday Camp in Ainsdale, Southport.
British Army personnel have been working hard throughout the year, operating mobile Coronavirus testing sites across our region.
The ability to save lives and relieve pressure on the NHS would not have been possible without them.
Now they are looking forward to enjoying some well earned leave after this most challenging of years.
Altcar Training Camp Commandant Colonel Gordon Black said: “The Army has been supporting our wonderful NHS over the last months with the battle against the horror of COVID–19.
“They have made a major contribution to reducing virus levels in our region, which has seen the Liverpool City Region being reduced to a lower Tier 2 level and an example to the rest of the country to follow.
“It has been early 4am starts for them and long days but they have been delighted with the great welcome they have received from local communities, which is the trademark of the people of Merseyside.
“They have also expressed a thank you to their hosts, Altcar Training Camp at Hightown and Pontins at Ainsdale.
“Soldiers would also like to express their thanks to all those people who supplied ‘Shoe Boxes ‘ for them.
“As they prepare to go on a well deserved Leave for Christmas, the soldiers would like to express a ‘Happy Christmas’ to everyone in Merseyside, but their message still remains – ‘STAY SAFE’.”
New arrivals are now coming into Altcar and people in our region are being invited to give them a very warm Merseyside welcome.
Colonel Black said: “Moving into Altcar Training Camp now are 160 Gurkhas for a three month Training Programme. They will be spending Christmas there.
“Gurkhas were first recruited into the British Army 200 years ago from the Nepal Region in India and are renowned for their loyalty, and for being and amongst the finest troops in the world.
“Many of them in different conflicts have been awarded the Victoria Cross for their outstanding bravery and sadly many have lost their lives in action. In World War Two in Burma the Japanese enemy feared them most of all.
“As they are a long way away from home for Christmas it would be a wonderful idea if the friendly renowned Merseyside public sent them Christmas cards so that they can decorate their Army rooms for the Festive Season.”
Please post your Christmas cards or messages to: Gurkha Soldier, Altcar Training Camp, Hightown, LIVERPOOL L38 7JE
- Photo by Major Roy Bevan