Navy, Army and RAF personnel joined sponsors, supporters and trustees of the charity, uk4u Thanks!, to launch the 2016 Christmas Box campaign…

uk4u Thanks! has produced more than 7,800 Christmas Boxes this year, to be delivered in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence to every Serviceman and woman serving away from their loved ones across the world over the festive period.

Guests gathered at the headquarters of the Grosvenor Estate to mark the launch. Guests included personnel who have received Christmas Boxes whilst on operations in previous years.

Cpl Bowen, who has been deployed over Christmas twice in previous years, said: "It’s an honour to be here at the launch today. Having served overseas during the Christmas period I know how it feels to receive these boxes and know the level of support from the public back home. I’ll be thinking of those who are deployed overseas this year."

This Christmas UK Forces will be deployed in various locations around the world, including in Afghanistan, Djibouti, Nigeria, the Falkland Islands and closer to home in Europe. They will be engaged in duties such as disrupting people trafficking in the Mediterranean, training in the Ukraine and supporting the counter-Daesh campaign in Syria and Iraq. The charity will also send boxes to personnel serving on HM Ships and Submarines, and to those recovering in hospital over the festive period.

The launch was attended by Minister for the Armed Forces Mike Penning who said: "I’m proud that the Ministry of Defence is supporting the uk4u Thanks! campaign. Our personnel are working 24 hours a day across the world supporting our allies and keeping Britain safe. These boxes are a token of thanks, the thanks of a grateful nation, for everything our Servicemen and women do on our behalf. Despite our people being away from home this Christmas, they remain in our thoughts."

Sally Little, uk4u Thanks! Director and Trustee said: "I am delighted that uk4u Thanks! is able to continue the tradition started in 1914 by Princess Mary ‘to provide everyone wearing the King’s uniform and serving overseas on Christmas Day with a gift from the nation’. The tradition was revived successfully in 2004 and uk4u Thanks! formed in 2005 to continue sending this wonderful Christmas box.

"Now in our 11th year, for Christmas 2016 the charity has sent over seven thousand boxes to Servicemen and Servicewomen stationed abroad on operations and away from their families and friends during this special time of year. We are ever-grateful for the continued support of our sponsors and the British public, without whom this would not be possible."

uk4u Thanks!’s Christmas boxes are delivered through the British Forces Post Office. Members of the public who want to support the Armed Forces this Christmas are urged to donate to a Services Charity.