Sunday, December 02, 2007

Send a Parcel to our Boys/Girls in Iraq & Afghanistan

Surprise Supplies is a scheme which aims to send parcels to every single member of the Armed Forces currently serving in operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. A lot of them receive little in the way of support parcels from home and they really do make all the difference. We are all aware of the disagreeable circumstances these soldiers are working in and this is a small way of our acknowledging what they do on our behalf.

The scheme is very simple and all you need to do is to put together a small parcel containing a few goodies and then send it in the post addressed to one of the addresses below. It will mean such a lot to these wonderful men and women serving so far away from home to know that people are thinking about them and that we value and appreciate the sacrifices that they are making.

It would make even more of a difference if you could organise for a group of people (your friends, colleagues or staff for example) to put together as many parcels as you can. Please forward this blogpost to all your friends and family and ask them to do the same. There are over 14,000 servicemen and women serving overseas in Afghanistan and the Middle East so the more parcels that we can send out the better.

How does it work?

All you need to do is to put together a parcel (or parcels) containing a few ‘goodies’ with a value of not more than £10, address the package tp one of the addresses at the end of this post and then take it to the post office/put it in the post.

Royal Mail will deliver the parcel free of charge to the British Forces Posting Office who will then ship it on to the relevant BFPO number.

Padded jiffy bags and old shoe boxes are the best for packing things in but any kind of old cardboard box or packet will do. Use tissue paper, newspaper, bubble wrap and anything light to stuff the package and stop things rolling around.

Postage is only free of charge if the parcel weighs less than 2kg and they are very strict about this so we recommend that you weigh your parcels before taking them to the post office.

There are lots of women serving out there too so although the mailing labels says ‘a Serviceman’ if you would like to put a parcel together for a woman please just amend the label accordingly and it will be given to a female.

What do I put inside?

One of the main elements of this scheme is to provide a bit of variety. Therefore if you can, use your imagination to the full and think of a cross between Christmas stockings and tuck boxes and you will be on the right track. It is very hot in Afghanistan so please do not send things that melt such as chocolate. Alcohol (and pornography!) are forbidden but this still leaves plenty of goodies such as:

Biscuits, cake - homemade wonderful but bought wonderful too – but think long life like fruitcake, gingerbread or malt loaf. Anything in a tube, vacuum pack or tin to perk up their rather basic rations is great - toffee sauce, (M&S does a good range of savoury and sweet sauces in tubes) condensed milk, salsa dip and cheese straws, cream cheese, fish paste, chutneys, chorizo sausage, dried fruit and nuts, mint imperials, chewing gum and everyone loves Jelly Babies.

Soduko books and magazines – Nuts, Zoo and FHM we are reliably informed are the most popular but also the Week for current affairs and any kind of magazine will be very welcome, the more varied the better as there is lots of time for reading and magazines get swapped and shared around.

Candles (for illumination, not scent), lip salve, moisturiser, medicated talc, deodorant, toothpaste and cotton socks (M&S do a great range of cotton socks that are v. popular – black and olive green are good colours). They also have to drink vast quantities of water so any powder flavourings in a package like Berocca, Vitamin C sachets etc. would be both light and immensely appreciated. Finally old fashioned pick ‘n mix sweets are particularly recommended but please keep the contents within £10 for the sake of equality.

Who will get my parcel?

Your parcel is being sent to one of two addresses in either Iraq or Afghanistan. From there they will be distributed throughout theatre. You won’t know who has received your parcel but you can be sure that a deserving soldier will be very grateful. Please do write an encouraging message inside your card for your soldier but please sign with your Christian name only and do not give your address as we do not want the soldiers to feel obliged to write thank you letters.

What is Surprise Supplies?

Surprise Supplies came about because of an idea Lexi Douglas had whilst her son was serving in Afghanistan in 2007. She regularly sent him parcels stuffed full of cakes and other nice things and when Charlie wrote home he said how appreciated they were but that not all of the boys received parcels from home so he would share his out with them. Lexi told her friends and they volunteered to send parcels and the idea grew from there. You can read more about it HERE

A British Soldier
c/o Capt. S Beattie MBE
HQ Task Force Helmand
Lashkar Gah
BFPO 715

A British Soldier
c/o Capt. S Beattie MBE
HQ Task Force Helmand
Lashkar Gah
BFPO 715

A British Soldier
c/o JI Branch
Op Telic
BFPO 641

A British Soldier
c/o JI Branch
Op Telic
BFPO 641


Anonymous said...

I congratulate you for promoting such a worthwhile cause. these people should know we care about them

Tom said...


err get it sorted Iain

idle said...

Well done Iain. I was going to do the same post on my blog but only three people read it.

Anonymous said...


Totally off topic, but how has your posting about the Monthly Political Performance Index suddenly re-appeared?

Anonymous said...

Where's "Itaq"?

Don't tell me we've gone to war with another country!

dick wishart said...

Wot no ciggies!

Eric God said...

There would be no wars if there were no warriors.
I would therefore propose that we each send a parcel containing the jumbled remains of the 'warriors' loved ones.

Eric God

canvas said...

where is "itaq"? sic

Savonarola said...

Four parcels already sent. Pleased that you posted this. Was approached by a lady from Farnham. Lexi Douglas from Kent was the originator.

Anonymous said...

Well done for promoting this. A very worthwhile cause.

Ed said...

What an excellent idea.

Kitchen said...

Thanks Ian - great idea off to M & S tomorrow ...

anon and on and on said...

Good work Iain.

Puts the dodgy dosh peddlars into perspective.

Rob said...

Ok, my first thought is what a great idea. Personally I would love to put together a box of treats to brighten a soldier's day up.

Second thought, and I don't want to be negative or think the worst of people, but my god this is risky. Let us not forget, our troops have enemies here at home too. There's nutters who just don't like them, like the people that harrassed recovering squaddies out of Leatherhead swimming pool which I recently read about. And then there's actually people who more than dislike them, and would actually wish harm upon them. And we're suggesting that allowing homemade food to be anonymously sent out is a good idea? It's a lovely idea for people of good intentions but that's not true of anyone sadly.

But despite that, it's a great idea in essence. My own suggestion, doubtless too late now, would have been to have a simple website where you could register your full name and address and a unique address label would be posted you to stick on your parcel(s). Yes, it would have added a cost and hassle to the process, but security doesn't come for free.

Anonymous food parcels to our troops just sounds too risky to me.

Sorry to have a slight downer on it. I will pu a box together for sure though. Thanks for sharing the info.

Anonymous said...


Despite my earlier tongue-in-cheek comment, I think this is one of your best postings and deserves wider circulation.

I gave up food shopping when I married Dr Hemlock 17 years ago, so I've forwarded your post to her and she can add them to this week's shopping list.

For your readers who don't have the luxury of a spouse who is good at shopping, is there a PayPal account that sympathetic readers can donate to?

Can you also create a banner link that allows other bloggers to link to this appeal on their own sites?

Anonymous said...

itaq is next to iraq as demonstrated by r and t being next to each other on the qwerty board.

pommygranate said...

What a great idea, Iain. I assume you can send parcels from abroad provided you pay the postage?

Anonymous said...


This is just our way of poking Iain in the ribs.

To be honest, we're all a bit jealous of the fortune he's made out of his "alternative" Ebay site, which can be found here.

Anonymous said...

Charles Moore suggested this in the Spectator a while back. I made up a parcel and took it to the Post Office. They wouldn't accept it because it wasn't addressed to an individual which was incredibl small minded but true I understand. If this has been sorted, good-oh. Apparently the Americans have been doing this for their troops for a long time.

Anonymous said...

jonathan hemlock, I use this banner on my blog, you are free to use it.

tachybaptus said...

Anon 10.28 pm:

Rearranging the address a little, e.g.

[at top left]
For a British Soldier, c/o ...

[Main address area]
Capt. S Beattie MBE
HQ Task Force Helmand
Lashkar Gah
BFPO 715

ought to get round the Post Office.

raincoaster said...

Yes, the Americans have been doing this forever; they have to, as their government refuses to spend the money to supply them with things like armor, so they encourage civilians to buy it and send it. I wish I were making that up.

This is a great cause, and thank you for posting it. If I may be petty feminist for a second, why in God's name does the shipping label say "a Serviceman" when it could just say "a Soldier." I mean, Jesus.

verity said...

Josh - V good!

Re the charmingly named Surprise Supplies, the Americans have been doing this for around 30 years or more. Nowadays, you can even have pizzas delivered. (I don't know how it works.)

Of course, the Americans also applaud homecoming troops walking off planes at airports. On overcrowded flights, they give up their seats to a returning service person and wait for the next plane themselves. They give money to the bar tender in an airport bar and tell him to put it to drinks for their returning service personnel. At airport restaurants, they tell the waiter to deliver the bill of service personnel having a snack or a meal to their table.

So we have quite some way to go to reach the standard of respect and appreciation for the military of an America so many here hold in contempt.

dalai lama ding dong said...

A very very noble idea but, as Mr Hemlock said, an opportunity for nutters to poison/spike the foodstuffs. Perhaps send only sealed tinned stuff, tamper proof packaging etc etc. Such is the world we live in. If I were a soldier I'd be suspicious of home-made stuff. In past years in America trick or treat kids were just so they are almost always accompanied by watchful parents...

Anonymous said...

My family will be sending one to a soldier in Iraq and one to a soldier in Afghanistan this year again. I have served 2 tours of Iraq and I cannot describe enough the feeling of pride, gratitude and Britishness I felt when I received one of these boxes. Made me and the blokes serving with me feel very appreciated by those back home in Blighty. I was able to write back to those who had sent and thank them so make sure you include your address inside. Good effort Iain for flaggin this up.

Anonymous said...

But why? This is not the Falklands. We are not at war. These guys are not conscripts, they are professionals doing what they do as a matter of free choice. Any number of people work overseas in difficult circumstances. Get over it!

Anonymous said...

Just hope that the parcels get to the front line, rather than being hoovered up by the logistic corps boys as is normally the case.

Anonymous said...

Pete (westbrom blogger):

Thanks for the offer.

However, some of the link to your banner was lost.

Could you "tinyurl" it please?

Anonymous said...

Organized begging! We are getting more Third World by the minute.

jafo said...

Anon at 9.16 and 9.58 (you sound like the same person to me) - Iain's suggestion is excellent and I shall be following it.

For the small-minded posters - This is what is known as kindness and doing a good turn to others without expecting a return - ever heard of that?

Tom said...

Is there a security risk here? Poisoned food?

Younghusband said...

What a great idea! Thank for bringing it to our attention!

cassandra said...

Not so sure you thought this one through Iain, there are millions of people who live in the UK that despise and hate our Armed Forces like poison and giving them an open invite to send annonymous parcels to our troops sounds like a mistake.
Our troops are short of normal supplies to the point that they have become known as the 'borrowers'! This is a supply problem caused by a regime that cares more for the 'bottom line'& saving money than it cares for our troops welfare.
Our troops dressed in Chinese made rags with little air support/medevac, ammo rationed to save money, troops having to scavenge supplies where they can with their own money and eating food that would 'gag a maggot' and all the while their families are treated like dirt by the MOD.
Well meaning you may be but by doing this you are letting the NuLabour regime off the hook, big time! every parcel that is sent means that the MOD/treasury can get away with saving cash that will only be frittered away on QUANGOs and other frauds.
Did Des(part time)Browne suggest this?
A gallant patriot you may well be but are you being played like aa cheap violin here?

Anonymous said...

Dalai Lama:

It wasn't me who suggested that some nutters might spike the food....though it's a very sad reflection of the society we live in that we even have to consider such things.

Anonymous said...

..millions of people in UK who hate and would poison? Will you providing their details to MI5? Mindful also if the masses you speak of want to harm you they have before they will again. Well done you have idenitified a world global threat. And the reference to violin playing beggars belief - did you wear a poppy this year or call yourself British? Can't believe the negative comments regarding the troops out there. We are at war its just your episode of Celebrity Jungle or Eastenders has taken greater importance and your're not on rationing that you have no care or need to care. That some dismiss this venture with such shameful disregard for service, loyalty and honour it is thanking is disgraceful. Like the idea of or don't but to criticise its sincerity and reason d'etre is small minded and disrespectful. Rule Brittania - if you deserve to live under her protection and freedom provided those who volunteered. Well done Iain and thanks.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Iain
I have sent it to nearly 30 others and my pet Colonel says it is backed by the British Legion.

Where do these fifth columnists come from? In my community I don't know one person who 'hates' the British Soldiers, might hate the government that sent them to die with a lie but not the armed forces.

As for erasing warriors -well cock if faced with seeing your family wiped out I bet you would be damned glad to see a British Soldier - but, no, of course not your are such an idealist you would willingly sacrificed all you know and love for the sake of world peace.

Sadly Utopia has not arrived as yet.

AS for the woman in the swimming pool - well one well known book contains the phrase, 'as you sow, so shall you reap'. It is not impossible that she is already reaping!

cassandra said...

Annon 13.08,

I served four yrs, so I take no lessons on patriotism thankyou! I put in too many freezing cold nights on the Falls/crumlin roads for that chum!
My post was to highlight a problem with FUNDING as I think you know, I also highlighted that the majority of our Muslim guests think that our troops are criminals! As I limp around with a mucked up knee, courtesy of a Falklands bog I look back on my service with pride.
So the next time you shoot your armchair patriot mouth off, perhaps you should engage your brain first?
I stand by my comments that for every parcel sent the NuLabour regime is let off the hook for its cheapskate attitude to our troops.

verity said...

9:14 writes "be sure to include your address". Did you read the post? Iain specifically said sign only your first name and no further details.

Given that Afghanistan and Iraq are both islamic war zones, and there are some 40% of muslims living in the UK who want shariah law applied in our ancient democracy(and who indeed apply shariah law within their own "communities", I would hope that every parcel be tested before being passed to our forces.

[1:08] - "Rule Brittania". Please learn to spell the name of your country.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps cassandra some armchair patriots have served their country in an earlier war - and perhaps some have seen their sons and daughters leave for Iraq and Afghanistan.

We all know the armed forces are disgustingly underfunded -but does that mean we leave them to rot?
This governent is not going to do anything about the serious underfunding unless there is a concerted outcry and they are reminded that voters are losing their children, husbands, fathers (and mothers/wives)

Anonymous said...

Cassandra from 1.08- apologies, my comments regarding your post were directed at the levels you believe hold hatred towards our Armed Forces which I think are inaccurate. My points on patriotism were directed, in hindight without a clear break, at the negative comments regarding posts made by some and not at your funding comments. Your points and service are recognised and valued. But as demonstrated by this blog and the work people will put in will only highlight the issue even more. The Govt is on the hook even more and more difficult for them ,as you stated, to get left off. I'm sorry my post was not well laid out but my sentiment to those who pass troops service off as merely doing what they get paid for remains. Sorry.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps some of your Irish readers could send over a parcel of guns and stuff. I'm sure they're still in fine working order and will be much appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Verity from 1.08, sorry, 'Brittania' was a keyboard slip. If you really want to find more errors in this blog look no further than your own post: Britannia is the Latin name for the island of Great Britain. Great Britain is not a country but a political and geographical term which describes the combination of England, Scotland, and Wales.

In addition, your use of brackets was interesting!

Anonymous said...

Dear Iain,

Great site, might i ask your help please?

Could you link or show the following petition on the PM's website:

It's to help support our men and women. Once it reaches 200, the PMs office has to issue an official response.

Please help. Thankyou

cassandra said...

Dear Annon,

Your apologies were fulsome and much appreciated, thankyou very much.

Adrian Peirson said...

Wicked Idea, ( Sorry, just spent the weekend with my two children )

I'll be drumming up some support for this deffo, Sorry again.

Oh yes, before you all go

have a look at this website.

Anonymous said...

Cassandra, no worries. Lesson learnt and I will now ensure posts are bettered structured and address each issue and poster in turn. I have just finished watching Her Majesty The Queen on television. I felt enormously proud of Her and this nation. This was topped by your graceful acceptance of my apology, thank you; a very British finish to the day. I, like you, once served my country, in Iraq twice, Bosnia and Kosovo. Despite our views on what schemes such as these may hide or reveal I think we can both agree that we are enormously proud to be served by such loyal servicemen and women, a what a valuable and precious part they play in maintaing our British way of life.

cassandra said...

Annon 22.28,

Thanks for your post and I agree that our service is something we treasure and have great pride in. I have to say on balance and when I cast aside my anger and depair at the way our troops have been neglected, that you are correct in your desire to send a parcel and I am wrong to deny them!
The truth is that our services are and always have been, head and shoulders above politics and the grubby, self serving NuLabour commisars!
Having engaged my brain instead of my heart, I will send a parcel ASAP.
I have to thank you for lifting the scales from my eyes, now is not the time for anger, now is the time for pride in our Forces.

Merry Xmas.

Anonymous said...

I think some commenters may be deluding themselves as to the universal popularity of the troops.

Take a trip to Beeston and ask who wants to send surpise supplies to the troops.

If the enemy within is prepared to go onto a tube train and blow itself and everyone around it up, do you really think they would have qualms about anonymously sending poisoned food straight into the hands of our boys?

I pray it doesn't happen. I hope the people who would consider doing such a thing never hear of this scheme.

Anonymous said...

Al Qaeda's UK sympathisers are a small percentage of the UK's 1.6 million Muslims. A percentage of those remaining UK Muslims are angry at the UK's Foreign Policy. I would guess that a great many more than 1.6 million white Christian Britons are angry with UK Foreign Policy. Look at the Stop the War protest in 2003. These two latter groups form a collective of UK Muslims, Christians and other faiths or non-believers called who are citizens. They are disgruntled citizens but they do not condone murder to achieve their aims.

Those concerned are right to spot a potential dangerous flaw in this postage to our troops venture. I think we should be confident during before the ideas inception that security checks and the like were considered and let's keep our fingers crossed. I think it is a great idea. Of course if you went to TESCO this morning what guarantee do you have that the cheese sandwich you bit in to at lunchtime had not been spiked? You don't. It's the world we live in. All we can hope is that terror networks at home and abroad are being disrupted and destroyed by the UK and allies.

Some of this anger is fuelled by our actions in the Muslim world and others by second order perceptions. These second order effects have left some feeling persecuted and created a recruiting magnet for disllusioned candidates.

For what multiple religions can add to the value and fabric of a society over time look at the story of the black American boxer Cassius Clay. On his return from Rome he threw his 1960 Olympic Gold medal in to the Ohio river after being refused service in a whites only restaurant. During his career went on to convert to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. He then began a journey from the frequently labelled extremist Nation of Islam though to the groups conversion to Sunni Islam. A true journey of change in his views of the world and the community around him. I really recommend reading about it. Along with multiple recogntion from his work around the world on behalf on the US and UN, he received a Spirit of America Award. The accolade; the most recognized American in the world. This example I know is not fuly relevant but if the most recognised American was a Muslim then it demonstrates that religion can have no limit on what can be achieved. I just found it amazing considering how some spectators view the US's crusade on Islam. I am not a Muslim. I'm a white, well travelled ordinary bloke. I was outraged at the Regents Park Mosque Demos and the London Bombings but the issues that ignited these events have not been fully addressed. Any debate must fundamentally address the UK Muslim question and how the rest of Britain works with British Muslims to create a better society. I have studied Arabic and visited a Mosque - it changed my perception completely. I think a balance urgently needs to be struck. We need the courage to debate this issue robustly.

I am heartended to see the comments made by Mrs Gibbons on her return to the UK. Her thanks were directed to Lord Ahmed and Baroness Warsi. These two committed British political figures and other key Muslim organisations in Britain did a great job. I hope they fall in to the 60% of UK Muslims who did not support Sharia law published in the Telegraph ICM survey referred to on this blog. They seem perfectly placed to persuade the other 40% who do to take a different look. Funny what face to face talking can resolve.

There will be UK Muslims who send a box to a soldier this xmas who is serving abroad.

There will be a British Muslim in uniform serving Great Britain receiving one of these parcels this year.

L/Cpl Hashmi, the first British Muslim soldier to be killed in Afghanistan, sacrificied his life last year.

British Patriot said...

Just try to make sure what you send cannot easily be tampered with without it being obvious.

A sealed pack of Quality tea backs, some sachets of Mint Drinking chocolate, Some MultiVits, Books, Cd's, DVD's.

A framed inviting picture of Nora Batty to hang in their wait, they are probably far too young to know what they have been missing there, corrrr.

Anonymous said...

this is a really worthwhile post. there is already a facebook group set up.

i would recommend that those readers who are members of facebook join this group and spread the word!!