Page last updated at 16:57 GMT, Friday, 28 March 2008

Troops say farewells in ceremony

Llandaff Cathedral service
Family and friends said farewell to the troops at the Llandaff ceremony

A troop of Territorial Army (TA) medics have said farewell to family and friends at a ceremony in Cardiff before heading out to Afghanistan.

The 64 members of the Territorial Army Field Hospital 203 said goodbye at the service held in Llandaff Cathedral.

The TAs, aged 22 to 60, are to undergo two weeks of training before leaving to serve in Helmand Province.

The unit, from the Llandaff area in the city, will set up at Camp Bastion, the Afghan base for British forces.

Once there, the soldiers will act as medical back-up to the forces already serving in the Afghanistan conflict and it will be the first time the unit has seen action since World War II.

William Holdsworth
William Holdsworth said he will miss his father a 'tiny bit'

However, despite this break in active service the unit's members are well-aware of the role they will need to play and has a breadth of experience available.

William McFadzean is normally a consultant anaesthetist at Morriston Hospital in Swansea and has already spent time in the country.

"I was in Afghanistan last year," he said. "We will deal with a complete cross-section of patient - members of the all the allied forces, Afghani national police, Afghani national army and civilians and children."

Sergeant Norman Holdsworth added: "We've been training long and hard for this one and this is effectively what we're here to do - to support the fighting forces out there."

Sergeant Norman Holdsworth
Sgt Holdsworth said the unit had trained long and hard for their tour

The ceremony was the last chance for family and friends to see the soldiers before their departure.

Many could not help the prospect of their loved ones entering into the firing line playing on their mind.

However, Sgt Holdsworth's son William did his best to put a brave face on things when asked if he ever worries about his father when he is away from home and said: "I do sometimes - just a tiny bit."

Outside of these more experienced hands in the form of Sgt Holdsworth and Mr McFadzean, the unit is also made up of some who will be experiencing a war zone for the first time.

Wendy Shamsaee
Wendy Shamsaee wants to do her best on the tour

Wendy Shamsaee was equally worried, but was also looking forward to the experience and the prospect of doing the best job she could while on her tour of duty.

"Obviously, you're going to have apprehensions and you get excitement as well because it's going to be a new experience, different people that you're working with, different situations," she said.

"I just want to be able to do the best job that I can out there."




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