Page last updated at 07:54 GMT, Thursday, 26 March 2009

Thanks for sniffer dog's treats

L/Cpl Wilkinson with Jamie (picture Ministry of Defence)
Jamie opens the parcel after he was tracked down in Afghanistan

A widow is to receive a special thank you, on behalf of her late husband, for a present he sent to a sniffer dog working with the forces in Afghanistan.

John Evans from Abergele, in Conwy, was seriously ill at Christmas when he heard that Springer Spaniel Jamie did not have any toys to play with.

He sent a box of toys and other treats but in the two months the box took to find Jamie Mr Evans sadly passed away.

His wife, Barbara, is overjoyed that Mr Evans' gift arrived safely.

"I was quite surprised the box found Jamie at all, and John would have been chuffed," said Mrs Evans.

Mr Evans served with the RAF for eight years as a young man, and was always keen to help any forces charity, said his wife.

"He'd heard about the dog on the radio and how he'd like an old tennis ball to play with and a tin of soup," she said.

John Evans
Mr Evans was touched by Jamie's plight

"So I took him down to the pet shop and he bought all sorts, and put a mug in the box as well in case the soup was for the handler."

The family had no idea how to get the box to Jamie and so tracked down a charity on the internet that sends out boxes to service personnel who are overseas at Christmas.

Then they sent the box addressed to "Jamie the Springer spaniel sniffer dog - somewhere in Afghanistan" to the charity uk4u-Thanks.

One of the charity's trustees, Allan Sims, decided to track down Jamie the dog.

Mr Sims said he asked anyone he could think of if they knew of the dog, but at first it came to nothing.

"The answers were never quite right, several sniffer dogs were known, most were different names and one called Jamie wasn't a Springer Spaniel," he said.

After two months however an RAF group captain sent an email saying that Jamie had been found.

Anne Evans (daughter) with Barbara Evans and some of the family dogs
Mrs Evans said her husband would have been chuffed

By then Mr Sims had been in touch with Mr Evans' family and learnt he had died from pneumonia.

"It makes me cry this story, and Barbara is such a lovely lady," he said.

Now the Ministry of Defence have made pictures available of Jamie the dog with his toys, and his handler L/Cpl Jim Wilkinson, 23, of Pocklington near York, which will be sent to Barbara as a precious memory of her husband.

"It's been a long tour for both me and Jamie and receiving these gifts means an enormous amount, particularly as we are nearing the end of our time out here," said L/Cpl Wilkinson.

"It was an extremely kind thought and I have to say we were all immensely touched when we heard the sad news.

"I want to take the opportunity to let Mrs Evans know how grateful we are, and I hope it eases the sadness of her loss knowing how much we appreciated the gifts."

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