As Christmas approaches, most people's thoughts immediately turn to meeting up with friends and loved ones. But some families will not be so lucky, especially those with soldiers serving in conflicts across the globe. Paul Harvey finds out how one Accrington serviceman is planning to celebrate Christmas Day....
THIS Christmas, Craftsman Nathan Sewell, a vehicle recovery mechanic with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, will be enjoying turkey and all the trimmings in the hostile environment of Helmand Province’s front line.
The former Rhyddings High School pupil is upset to be missing out on a big family Christmas back home, but sent his best wishes to his friends and relations.
He said: "Each year we have everyone in our very large family around for Christmas dinner which means around 30 people sitting down to eat. But this year, unfortunately, there’s going to be a spare seat."
The 22-year-old will be listening to his favourite Christmas song to get him in the festive spirit.
He said: "I’m missing everyone back home –have a drink for me with all the family. Don't worry, I’ll be out here listening to the Pogues and Kirsty MacColl singing Fairytale of New York on Christmas Day.
"Merry Christmas to everyone and look forward to seeing you when I get back for rest and recuperation in February."
On the big day Nathan will be having turkey with a difference, as Army tradition dictates that the officers serve their men Christmas dinner.
Behind the scenes, army chefs are preparing some 15,000 mince pies and three tonnes each of turkey and gammon.
The soldiers are also arranging a Santa sleigh pull, Santa’s sack race and dodge the Christmas present.
Nathan joined the Army in 2005 and is due to return home from Afghanistan in April 2011.
He is currently working with the Second Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland Battle Group in the Light Aid Detachment.
His job is to repair and maintain the fleet of armoured vehicles such as the 30-tonne Mastiff armoured personnel carriers or the cross country heavily armed and armoured Jackal patrol vehicles.
Nathan also has to go out and bring back stricken vehicles that have either broken down, or are battle damaged by improvised explosive devices.
Nathan's battle group has responsibility for the security, alongside the Afghan security forces, of Lashkar Gah, the main town in Helmand Province.
Recently the battle group supported the Afghan National Police in providing security for a free open-air pop concert.
It proved a huge success with some 5,000 spectators gathering to hear a performance by Farhad Darya, the Afghan answer to Robbie Williams.