INJURED soldiers told school children yesterday how they each lost a leg after fighting in Afghanistan.
Rifleman Chris Parkes and Rifleman Matt Fisher, of 3rd Battalion The Rifles, spoke to the youngsters at the launch of an Oxfordshire teacher’s campaign to raise £1m for forces charities.
Alix Hodge’s Ten for Ten campaign aims to raise the cash for army rehabilitation centres by 10am on October 10 to mark the first 10 years of the conflict.
And 10 children from 10 Oxfordshire schools heard about the sacrifices soldiers made, at Dalton Barracks Community Centre.
Rfn Parkes, 23, who lost his left leg to an improvised explosive device, said: “We are both very lucky to be here. I narrowly avoided death.”
He added: “We have sacrificed things and these kids realise that – you can sense their genuine gratitude even though they are just kids.”
The campaign is calling on all schools in the country to hold a red, white and blue day on October 10 to raise cash for Help for Heroes and ABF The Soldiers’ Charity.
One hundred red, white and blue balloons were released to celebrate the launch.
Rfn Fisher, who was shot in the foot, said: “We have all got mothers and fathers and it was pretty horrific for them to deal with our injuries.
“A lot of these charities help in a massive way to support our families and friends and that is what is so fantastic about it.”
Mrs Hodge was inspired to act after her artist husband Marcus was commissioned to paint a picture by 3rd Battalion The Rifles, who are based in Edinburgh.
In the 10 days he was out in Afghanistan last year six soldiers were killed.
The Cothill House School teacher, who lives in Appleton, said: “It was so sobering to hear about it first hand.
“So many men and women have paid the ultimate price with their lives and it is crucial we tell our children about this so they respect all that is done by our armed forces.”
Businesses are encouraged to hold a fundraising event in October – each adult is asked to donate £10 and each child £1.
Charlotte Nettleton, 10, from Sunningwell Primary School, said the talk showed her what the army was really like.
She said: “They are very brave and I want to raise as much money as possible for the soldiers.”
And Millie Taylor, 10, of Chandlings School near Kennington, said: “These soldiers go through some terrible things and they are just so brave to be in the army.”
Drew Walton, 13, from Fitzharry’s School in Abingdon, said: “When I am older I want to join the army so this has been a bit of an insight. I found their bravery inspiring.”
Ten for Ten spokesman Graham Rose said: “Our children should be aware of what they go through so that when they grow up they can remember the campaign with pride, and the service people can really feel they are getting our support.”
To get involved visit the website tenforten.co.uk