A Westward Ho! soldier back home after a gruelling tour of Afghanistan has said a huge thank you for the hundreds of parcels and letters sent to her and her team by the people of North Devon. Corporal Sarah Marriott and her colleagues were amazed at the f

A Westward Ho! soldier back home after a gruelling tour of Afghanistan has said a huge thank you for the hundreds of parcels and letters sent to her and her team by the people of North Devon.

Corporal Sarah Marriott and her colleagues were amazed at the flood of packages, goodies and messages of support that poured in following an appeal in the North Devon Gazette by her partner John Craig.

Army medic Sarah was part of an eight-man team in a frontline patrol base in the notorious and highly dangerous Sangin district, mentoring around 30 Afghan troops.

Links with home were few and John appealed through the Gazette for a morale boosting parcel or two to help the team - and the response was overwhelming.

"I have done a few tours and this was the hardest, both emotionally and as a medic I was very busy," said Sarah, now enjoying a few weeks of leave back in North Devon with John.

"The response to the appeal was phenomenal and we easily received 400 or more parcels - I remember once we picked up six or seven big mail bags in one go.

"I'd just like to say a huge thank you to everybody. The number of lovely letters and kind wishes that came through was unbelievable. For people to take time out of their day to send a letter or parcel meant so much to me and it got me through those six months."

The team received a huge assortment of toiletries, warm clothing, sweets, snacks, magazines and local newspapers. One lady sent a shipment of flip flop sandals, which proved very useful, while at Christmas time a consignment of festive hats proved popular not only with the British soldiers but their Afghan counterparts and the local children as well.

Many were addressed "to Sarah and her team" or even "to any soldier" so Sarah and her comrades ensured a great deal was passed on to other frontline forces.

Sarah did her best to reply to all the mail, the majority from North Devon and included local schoolchildren, Northam WI and many more. From further afield there were parcels from Peter Bond of Support Our Solders and the well known "Mo and Jo," Somerset pensioners Joanne Goody-Otis and Maurice Benton.

"Some of the letters were heartbreaking," said Sarah.

"There was one from an older lady who started by apologising for not putting so much in because she was using her pension money. It was so heartwarming she used money she obviously needed to send something out to us.

"Thank you to everyone and especially those who I was unable to reply to myself.