Relatives of Oxfordshire's Territorial Army infantry unit, 7 Rifles, were treated to a special day out at Windsor Castle this week.

Families of soldiers serving in Afghanistan joined relatives of troops from the regiment's detachments in Reading, Milton Keynes and London for the visit to the castle, which is the Queen's favourite Royal residence.

Organised by Oxford-based TA welfare officer Major Terry Roper, the event was designed to give family members a chance to meet and build social networks.

Ann Thompson, 43, whose boyfriend Tony Faccioli is serving with the Rifles, attended the day with her daughter Izzy, 17, and her grandson Kieran, four.

She said: "It was a good day. We're all in the same position and we've all got loved ones out there. I think the day was a really good idea, as it gives people a chance to find out what's going on. Sometimes you don't hear from them and you start to worry, but then you speak to other people and you realise that they haven't heard anything either.

"It reassures you and makes you feel better."

Nine families from Oxford were among the group of 90 people that went on the visit.

Judith Alford, 44, whose son Carl is also in Afghanistan, said: "It was such a lovely day and gave us all a chance to get to know one another."

On arrival at the castle on Monday they were given a special tour of the castle Mrs Alford said: "The guides came down on their days off and volunteered their time to give us the tour and it meant a lot to everyone."

They then watched the castle guard on parade and were treated to lunch at Victoria Barracks, the base of the Coldstream Guards.

TA spokesman Helen Barrow said: "Days like this are important for us, as the families of soldiers and officers serving in the TA are in a very different position to the families of soldiers in the Regular Army. With the regular soldiers, their families often live in Army accommodation, with people around that they can talk to.

"Days like this give the families the opportunity to meet and talk."