For a couple of months now I’ve been wearing one of those rubber wristbands.
It carries the words: ‘Supporting 3 MERCIAN (Staffords) in Afghanistan’.
Through my job I’ve been lucky enough to get to know some serving soldiers and their COs and I’m immensely proud of the work they do.
This weekend we lost one of our own.
Private Gareth Bellingham, of Clayton, was shot while on duty in Helmand on Saturday. He was 22.
Having witnessed the humbling sight of the bodies of our servicemen being repatriated through the little town of Wooton Bassett, the news brought it all back to me.
My heart goes out to Gareth’s family and friends.
There will be some who will say ‘we shouldn’t even be there. Nobody has to die if we bring the troops home now’.
I’m afraid it isn’t quite as simple as that.
Whatever the rights and wrongs of the war in Afghanistan, our boys and girls are there NOW and we should be supporting them.
Every day as we go to work, sit at home watching the telly, walk the dog, take the children out or go to Vale or Stoke, they are in the heat and the dust risking their lives for freedom and democracy.
I, for one, am in awe of the job they do.
These people don’t do politics. They do duty.
I will continue to wear my wristband with pride until every last one of the Staffords is home safe.