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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 October 2005, 14:20 GMT 15:20 UK
Jenkins' festive show for troops
Katherine Jenkins
The star said she would show the troops they were not forgotten
Rising Welsh opera star Katherine Jenkins is to sing for British troops in Iraq this Christmas.

The 25-year-old classical singer will perform at the army base in Basra in the south of the country for about 8,000 soldiers, many of whom are Welsh.

Jenkins, from Neath, has emerged as the new forces sweetheart, taking on the role of Dame Vera Lynn in World War II.

As well as singing, she will also act as postman bringing Christmas greetings home for the soldiers' families.

"This is something I really want to do," said Jenkins as the forces trip was announced on Saturday.

"I'm very proud of being Welsh, and equally proud of being British, so it's nice to be able to do this
Katherine Jenkins

At the VE Day celebrations in London's Trafalgar Square in May, Jenkins sang Dame Vera's famous "We'll Meet Again" alongside the wartime heroine, who said she was passing over the mantle to the Welsh star.

Jenkins, a former model, will be flown out by military aircraft to the Iraqi base which is home to 7 Armoured Brigade and a number of Territorial Army Reservists from the Royal Welsh Regiment.

Jenkins said while she did have doubts about the risks involved, she was looking forward to the trip.

"I'm very proud of being Welsh, and equally proud of being British, so it's nice to be able to do this.

"Although I'd be lying if I said I had no reservations about the dangers out there, it's a great comfort to know I'm going to have lots of great soldiers to protect me."

The trip may mean she will miss spending Christmas at her home with her family in south Wales, but she said that would not stop her going.

Katherine Jenkins and Dame Vera Lynn at the VE Day celebrations
Vera Lynn has handed over her mantle as forces' sweetheart

"Christmas is a family time so it would be nice to bring a little bit of happiness to them and show that they are not forgotten at home," said Jenkins.

"No-one had anticipated troops being there as long as this."

Jenkins' programme has not yet been finalised but it will include some wartime favourites as well as some light classical and Welsh songs.

A spokesman for the British Forces Federations said: "We are just awaiting final clearance from the Ministry of Defence and then it will be all systems go."

The former Welsh schoolgirl of the Year has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame and her success was marked with a classical Brit award this year.

Her debut album Premiere spent eight weeks at the top of the classical charts in 2004 - making her the fastest-selling opera star since Maria Callas.

Later that year she became the first British classical artist to achieve two number one albums in the same year.

Jenkins is also to perform along with other Welsh stars including Dame Shirley Bassey and Charlotte Church at the Royal Variety Performance in Cardiff at the Wales Millennium Centre next month.

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