Real Lives: John’s prize for sharing parcels of time on troops

John Robertson at Edinburgh Airport
John Robertson at Edinburgh Airport
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A FORMER soldier who has devoted much of his life to fundraising has been handed a prestigious prize.

Airport security worker John Robertson doesn’t take any time off.

Any “spare” hours he gets he spends fundraising or investing his energy in city charity Parcels 4 Troops, which supplies home comforts and handy items to soldiers in the midst of warfare.

As a result of his volunteering, which has seen him spend recent years drumming up support from businesses based at Edinburgh Airport, the Sighthill 56-year-old was handed an outstanding contribution award at the annual airport awards dinner.

As well as the gong, contest organisers made a £2500 donation to Parcels 4 Troops, adding to the estimated £15,000 John has already raised in the past two and a half years.

“I was just blown away by it, I had no idea it was coming,” said the father-of-four, who served in the armed forces for 18 years before moving to the airport.

“My work’s great, they give me time to do this and it’s allowed me to really network with the likes of WH Smith and other businesses here to raise money.”

It was his own tours away from home while in the army that prompted him to work with the charity.

“I hardly saw my kids at all,” he said. “Our aim is to send out these parcels containing things like toothbrushes, toothpaste, baby wipes, just all the things you maybe take for granted when you’re here but are hard to come by in Iraq or Afghanistan.

“The parcels for men and women are slightly different, and we encourage people who make them up to identify themselves, so the soldiers can write back.

“That way they strike up a bit of a relationship and can get sent certain things, while people know the items they’re sending are being appreciated.”

He was only supposed to spend three days helping the charity initially, but after raising more than £1000 in that short space of time, ended up spending more than 40 hours a month with them.

“It’s just one of these things. I’ve found that the more I put into it the more I get out of it too,” he said.

“It’s not just about the parcels. We give money to regiments sending troops away, we help entertain parents and children when the partner is away, and those who are bereaved or injured.

“We just want to support the troops. It’s nothing to do with what they’re fighting for or why they’re there – it’s purely to look after their welfare.”

As well as the £15,000 raised, he has helped send out more than 12,000 boxes to frontline troops and organised race nights and functions for returning soldiers.