A Christmas message from Shaun Micallef-Green, RIFT Head Armed Forces Liaison Officer.

Christmas is a time when many of us who are fortunate enough not to be working take time out to either spend time with families and friends, or to remember those who are no longer with us. It is a time of celebrations, reunions, of sharing and caring for others. For some it may be the one time in the year when they spend time with distant loved ones, or at the very least send a communication in the form of a card or even phone call.

However, the demands and necessities of life mean that not everyone who would like to, is able to take time off, or to spend Christmas where and with whom they might wish.

To name just a few, this will include doctors, nurses, carers, chefs, security staff, bar staff, waiters, and members of the emergency services including Police, Ambulance Service, Fire Service and members of the Armed Forces.

We would like to take a moment to thank them one and all for their dedication, commitment and services provided in whatever capacity they might work, and for the sacrifices they make in  particular at this time of year.  Without such selfless actions by so many, those of us who benefit either directly or indirectly from their services might not be able to relax and enjoy our time off in the way we plan.  

In recognition of their unusual circumstances, we would like to say a special thank you to the estimated 11,000 sailors, soldiers, airmen and marines from the UK Armed Forces who are deployed on operations overseas this Christmas. As well as working over the festive season, these men and women who work so hard to protect our nation’s interests and provide the safety and security we all enjoy, will also spend their Christmas time potentially thousands of miles from home, in one of around 30 different countries where they are currently deployed.

The activities conducted by these servicemen and servicewomen vary by nature, depending on their role and the environment to which they are deployed. To name just a few of the military operations our Armed Forces support, they range from providing security and protection to NATO advisors as well as training to the Security Forces in Afghanistan; to members of the counter-poaching task force teaching rangers in Gabon and Malawi intelligence, medical and tracking techniques; conducting  peacekeeping on Somalia and South Sudan; and providing post Hurricane support within the Caribbean.

Wherever they may be working, and whatever their role, we are grateful for their commitment and contribution that makes such a difference to so many lives.

We would also like to say thank you to the many members of families of Armed Forces personnel, whether it is husbands, wives, fathers, daughters, sisters or brothers. The sacrifice they also make in spending Christmas without their loved ones who are so selflessly supporting the needs of others far away from home is both recognised and appreciated.

Wherever you may be at Christmas, both serving members of the Armed Forces and their families, you are not forgotten.