THE community in Odiham is banding together to bring a bit of Christmas cheer to deployed members of the Amred Forces.

With a large contingent of 18 Squadron RAF Odiham out on support operations taking place in Mali, Odiham Parish Council, on behalf of the community, was keen to let service personnel out there know just how valued their efforts are.

With help from the Southern Cooperative and Red Mist Leisure, which own the village’s Red Lion pub, Christmas care packages have been assembled and shipped to Mali stuffed with seasonal treats.

Chair of Odiham Parish Council, Councillor Jon Hale, said: “Odiham is extremely proud to be home to the UK’s Chinook force and for several years, the parish council has provided a seasonal gesture to its deployed personnel. However, this is the first time we have attempted something on this scale.

“The generosity of the Red Lion and Southern Cooperative has been superb and combined with the goods we have sourced, means that every member of the RAF Odiham team in Mali will be able to enjoy a superb selection of Christmas themed food and drink.

“It’s been quite a logistical challenge, but this seemed like the least we could do for the RAF members of our community who are serving overseas on all our behalf.”

Three RAF Chinook helicopters and around 90 troops from RAF Odiham are on the ground in Mali.