SOLDIERS serving in Afghanistan will be laying their heads down on a pillow wrapped in love this Valentine’s Day night.

The wives and children of soldiers from 63 Works Group, Royal Engineers, based in Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, have sent out the decorated pillow slips with loving messages to mark the day.

The idea was the brainchild of Sadie Bartram, the wife of WO1 Kevin Bartram, who came up with the idea after sending her husband a family photo on a pillow slip for Christmas.

She said: “The wives were talking over coffee morning and I thought it would be nice for the children to be involved and do something more personal.”

VALENTINES2WO1 Bartram’s pillow slip has been lovingly decorated by his children Mia (8), Michael (3) and Maddison (1) with a drawing of his family with the words “We love you daddy”.

Toni Smith drew around her six-month-son Elliot so her husband Sapper Ashley Smith could see how much he had grown. Spr Smith deployed to Afghanistan when Elliot was 4-months old.

She said: “I love sending him things like this to keep him up to date on Elliot’s progress so he doesn’t miss things. He’s been away before, but I think he probably feels it more this time because we now have a baby.”

A poem was written on the pillow slip for Staff Sergeant James Pledger. His wife Charlie is expecting their second child, which is due on his return home. The poem reads: ‘We love you more than you know. If only you were here so we could show. Instead Mummy’s belly is gonna grow. And I am going to be an awesome Big Bro.’

Mrs Pledger said: “It’s the first time James has been away since we had Bruce, who is one. It’s probably harder for the soldiers being away than us. We are with our children every day and see them developing, so it’s nice for them to receive a present like this from the children.”

All three wives will have the opportunity to speak to their husbands on Valentine’s Day and all have received cards and presents from their husbands, including flowers and chocolates.

Family Liaison Officer Staff Sergeant Jon Paul Middleton said: “Sadie had a wonderful idea and together we organised this fun activity. The children all had a great time decorating the pillow slips and enjoyed a pizza at the end for all their hard work.

“It’s one of many activities we organise to look after the families of our soldiers serving in Afghanistan. Knowing the families are being looked after back here in the UK allows the soldiers deployed to focus on their jobs.”

63 Works Group Royal Engineers, part of 170 (Infrastructure Support) Engineer Group have been in Afghanistan since November 13 and are integral to the planning and implementation drawdown and re-deployment of all the infrastructure in theatre.

This includes both military assets and the contractor delivered infrastructure. They will return to the UK in the summer.

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