WHILE most people will be tucking into a tasty Christmas dinner, unwrapping gifts from loved ones and getting merry at this time of year, one kind-hearted Wigan grandmother has a very different schedule planned.
Linda Taberner has made the ultimate sacrifice - serving Queen and country over the festive period in Afghanistan for the Territorial Army.
The Wiganer, who currently holds the rank of Major, was deployed in October for four months as a nursing officer to a Camp Bastion field hospital and from her base she spoke to the Wigan Evening Post about how she will spend her Christmas and the New Year.
Linda said: “Life here is focused mainly on our job and the work we are out here to do.
“Being away from my family has been difficult, but because I am more than half way through my tour my morale has definitely improved.
“The difficulty was with my young grandchildren and trying to describe to them how long four months is.
“I am missing my husband very much as we are a couple that do everything together and have never separated for long.”
Linda, 55, keeps in touch with her husband, Alan, and their four children and three grandchildren by bluey letters and fax.
Each soldier also gets a 30-minute phone card and Linda has been able to use the soldier story book to record a story for her grandchildren to listen to.
Linda added: “It has been difficult to speak to the children as the time difference here means we are four-and-a-half hours ahead.”
Linda has served in the TA for 10 years has also held a career in the NHS for 37 years. This is her last tour of duty having already served in Afghanistan in 2004.
She said: “On Christmas Day, we will all be working.
“We have three teams on the wards and the team that I am on will be doing the night shift on Christmas night.
“I think we will put our Santa hats on and arrange a table with some nice food that our loved ones have sent to us. People’s spirits are up and down. It’s natural that you have better days than others but fortunately all the ladies here get along great and it has been rewarding treating our soldiers, seeing them get well and back to their units.”
As a registered nurse in the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, Linda has been living in a basic tent with seven other women.
Thick pyjamas and water bottles from her family keep her warm during the cold nights.
Linda said: “We can hear some of the activity from a distance like explosions or heavy weapon fire, but it is nowhere near our camp.
“We’re hoping to get back towards the end of January and the first thing I will do is give my husband a really big hug then book a holiday.
“I miss everyone and I would like to thank my mother-in-law, Joan Kolosky, who sends me regular letters of support and essential items.”