Soldiers return to Nelson from tour of duty in Afghanistan

S/Sgt Higgins with wife Maj. Higgins
S/Sgt Higgins with wife Maj. Higgins

TWO unsung heroes have made the emotional trip back home to Nelson after a four-month stint in Helmand province where they have been working at the British Military Hospital treating the wounded in Afghanistan.

Major Kath Higgins (44) and Staff Sergeant Andrew Higgins (44), of Halifax Road, took their first steps back onto English soil on Monday to be greeted at their base by friends and family whom they have not seen since October.

The couple who are part of the TA and who work for the 207 Manchester Field Hospital were deployed to camp Bastion during the voluntary operational tour to use their five decades of medical experience to help the injured.

And while describing the past months as a “humbling experience” they have confirmed they would like to go back.

They have been working in one of the busiest trauma hospitals treating anyone from British soldiers, to US Marines, to the Taliban and children, nursing people back to health while witnessing horrific scenes.

But Maj. Higgins said: “The boys are the real heroes who are still out there on the front line. We just help get them back to the UK safely and it is reassuring for them to be treated by someone experienced. We are just doing our job but it has been one of the most fulfilling things I have ever done.”

Before they went, the group of 50 doctors, nurses and paramedics from the North-West were subjected to intense training, putting their medical skills to practice under the upmost pressure.

They added: “It is something we’re really glad we’ve done and we’re more than happy to say we will go back and do it again.

“There isn’t one single person out there who isn’t pulling their weight from the soldiers on the front line, to the cleaners, to the administrators. It’s very humbling to see how hard everyone is working. The support from the British public has been absolutely lovely.”

The couple will now have a well-deserved break before returning to their NHS hospitals in Blackburn and Manchester where they will be able to benefit the North-West patients from their life-changing experience.

There’s more on this story in Friday’s Nelson Leader