RAF nurse’s help for our heroes

A BRAVE nurse heading for Afghanistan and her proud family will host a special Christmas Dance in Girvan to raise money for Help for Heroes.

Girvan lass Helen Gilchrist puts herself in danger to care for our armed forces who have been injured on the front line and, with help from her mum, Lorraine, has organised a special Christmas Dance in December.

Helen, who is returning to Afghanistan in January for a three-month tour, is wanting to give a little back to the national charity to recognise the importance of the work they do.

She said: “It’s a charity that is, obviously, quite close to my heart. I work as a nurse with the RAF to treat the injured soldiers.

“Sometimes we fly out there to collect guys that have been injured to bring them back home. Or we do have stays over there. I’m heading back over to Afghanistan in January for three months.

“We thought a Christmas Dance would be a good way to raise money to support and rehabilitate our wounded service personnel.”

Helen joined the RAF when she was 17 and has previously served in Iraq in 2006 and Afghanistan in 2008.

Describing her role, Helen said: “I’ll be based out of Camp Bastion in January, my job is looking after all of the injured NATO forces. I don’t find it scary as I’m not really on the front line, I just look after the guys and get on with it.”

Helen does admit it is harder to be away from home for such a long time, especially not being able to see her family growing up.

She said: “It’s a lot harder to go away now with nieces and nephews growing up so fast, but you get kind of used to it.”

Help for Heroes was launched in October 2007 by Bryn and Emma Parry and a group of friends to support those wounded in the service of our country since 9/11.

Supported by patrons such as Jeremy Clarkson, Ross Kemp and James Blunt, Help for Heroes benefits Navy, Army and Royal Air Force. It relies heavily on a largely volunteer network to raise money to support injured service personnel.

Their efforts have raised over £100 million in less than four years.

Helen added that this isn’t the first time the family has raised money for the charity.

She said: “My niece and nephew raised £225 walking the length of Girvan when they were five in 2008 and we also held a race night that year as well, which raised £1548.

Her mum, Lorraine, believes the family’s fundraising efforts is the least they can do to show their support to Helen for what she does.

Lorraine said: “I’m really proud of her, the whole family all are, it’s what she always wanted to do.

“When you see the lads coming back injured and the help they give, it’s a fantastic job they do and raising money is the least we can do to help.”

The Dance will take place in The Hamilton on Friday, December 23 from 7pm with music from Swing Sensations. Tickets cost £10 include a glass of champagne on arrival and a buffet and are available from the venue, the Royal Hotel and from Lorraine who can be contacted on 07901 772 039.

Helen added: “We hope to have a raffle and auction on the night to raise even more money. We already have a pair of tickets for a Celtic game at Parkhead for the auction.”