SEVENTEEN Yorkshiremen and women are taking time off from their day jobs – to serve in Afghanistan.
Territorial Army (TA) soldiers from the 4th Battalion of the Yorkshire Regiment headed off from Huddersfield at the weekend to prepare for a six-month tour of the warzone.
The troops were led by Capt Darren Schofield, who works as a project manager at Morrisons head office in Bradford.
He said: “It’s difficult leaving behind one life for something very different but my employer has been very understanding.”
The 42-year-old from Ossett added: “The TA is an integral part of the Army and makes up about 10% of the force in Afghanistan.
“Most of us put a considerable amount of time and effort into the TA. It’s not unusual for us to put in 50 days of training a year.”
The group of 17 from C Company of 4 Yorks left St Paul’s Street Drill Hall on Saturday afternoon.
They will train at Chetywnd Barracks at Chilwell in Nottinghamshire before deploying to Afghanistan in September.
Capt Schofield said: “It’s going to be very different but we’ve been building up to this for quite some time.
“Everyone here is looking forward to getting stuck in and making the regiment proud.”
Cpl Simon Kenyon is one of the more experienced members of the group having completed four tours – one in Kosovo, two in Iraq and one in Afghanistan in 2007.
The 29-year-old from Halifax said: “I was posted to Kabul for six months. There was a high risk of suicide bombs but it wasn’t as bad as Helmand.
“There’s a lot of young lads here who haven’t done any tours before but morale is really good.”
Cpl Kenyon, who used to work for Lloyds Bank’s customer services department, believes the public backs the Army’s role in Afghanistan.
He said: “We got called ‘baby-killers’ during the Iraq War but now I think people are behind us and we get a lot of support”.