started rather differently for SOS Cumbria, I was given the task of Merchandise
Coordinator, I looked forward to the challenge and promptly got my parents
involved in the running and upkeep of the unit in which all SOS merchandise was
to be stored, and thankfully they are still helping me today.

It was soon up and running leaving me with the important job of getting the
boxes out to our lads and lasses.

I do my collecting in supermarkets and January is when I start getting the
important letters out to them, and phone calling them to confirm dates etc.,
and with 3 already booked in it was looking good for another bumper year.

I also had a couple of sponsored events lined up this year, my son’s mate Marc
was running a half marathon, a young lad out of our motor club called Jack was
going to do a mountain bike challenge around the local forest and I was
organising a Charity Disco Night with one of our local radio DJ’s, on top of
this was a 24 hour sponsored Bikeathon in the local shopping centre and a couple
of agricultural shows we were planned to go to as well as getting all that
important merchandise shipped out to all your A/C’s for all your events you
were doing, 2013 was looking to be a very busy year and it certainly
was as halfway through Agnes had been asked to provide 1000 wash bags to
go to Cyprus so the troops had something to use when they landed there from
Afghan! I can’t take full credit for putting these together because as I
mentioned before my parents help me run the Merchandise unit and they eagerly
jumped onto this task and were soon knocking these bags together. I can’t
remember the exact timescale we had to do these but it was something like a
month or so I think and they were soon done and sent on their way to Cyprus.

Also Last year Lynn Robinson, Elaine and Glen and myself were asked to go over
to North Shields to represent Support Our Soldiers at the Badlanders Motor Bike
Rally, I got my mates van (thanks Mitch) loaded it up with as much merchandise
as we could get in and set off, picked Lynn up with her daughter at Newcastle
train station and headed over.  What an excellent weekend despite the
bloomin’ rain,  we made some good friends raised loads for SOS and even
beat last year’s total, result, can’t wait to go back this year.

As we headed towards our busiest time of year Xmas, it comes round far too
quickly these days we started gearing up for an onslaught of addies from the
lads and lasses in afghan, and with this being my first year as merchandise
coordinator I didn’t really know what to expect, the unit was to be where most
large donations were to be sent and we did get some, but what really impressed
me was the number of small donations of the public, a couple of boxes here and
a few there it really makes me proud to say that the British public do look
after our troops and a massive thanks must go to them.

I started doing my Xmas boxes after I get my October ones away around the
middle of October and as you can imagine there is not a lot of Xmas stuff out
there then and with over a 1000 boxes to do asking for large amounts of Hats,
selection boxes and tinsel does get you some funny looks around mid October,
but after a quick explanation of what I want them for shops soon are very eager
to help (well some are).

In total SOS Cumbria sent out over 1300 boxes this xmas all in the allotted
time by the end of November, but again I CAN NOT take full credit for this, I
drafted in the help of my PTA friends and did Box Packing Nights in the local
school along with family….. and numerous early mornings and late evenings
later we got the job done.

So to round it up 2013 was a very busy year for SOS Cumbria, I have loads of
people to thank so many I couldn’t name them all in fear of forgetting someone,
so can I say on behalf of MYSELF a MASSIVE MASSIVE THANK YOU, to everyone who
helped me last year, donated items or just bought a wristband you all want to
be proud of what you have done to help Support Our Soldiers, our lads and
lasses who are serving their country deserve everything and more we can give
them and with your help Support Our Soldiers will give them this.

I enjoyed every minute of last year and will continue again this year, I am
proud of what I do and what SOS stands for and feel honoured and privileged to
be part of this charity, and just one more thank you to say, Thanks Agnes for
what you have achieved in the Ten Years you have ran this charity, you have
made many a soldier smile whilst they have been in theatre.

Ryan Winthrop

SOS Cumbria.

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