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Christmas on the front line for Beaconsfield army reservist
WHILE most people are waking up in their warm beds on Christmas morning, a TV production manager from South Bucks will be sheltering from the elements inside a tent in the Afghan desert.
Former Beaconsfield High School student Claire Jackson has swapped the office for remote desert bases as she completes a six month tour of duty in Helmand Province as head of a camera team.
The army reservist is part of the Combat Camera Team (CCT), which travels by helicopter and armoured vehicles across Helmand Province to chart the UK’s handover of security to Afghan forces.
And the 37-year-old Lieutenant, whose father lives in Chalfont St Giles, said it will be strange to spend the holidays thousands of miles from home and away from the usual festive home comforts.
She said: "I will obviously miss my family, boyfriend and friends, and the usual Xmas meal and stockings on Christmas morning.
"Waking up in a tent in the desert with porridge and toast for breakfast will be a bit different from than the usual Christmas breakfast, opening of a stocking and presents and glass of mulled wine.
"I’m hoping I might get a couple of Xmas stocking fillers sent out to me to open though! And will try to Skype home on Xmas day to speak to the family."
Claire, whose father Peter was a Royal Marine Captain and served as a helicopter pilot, has been an Army reservist for three years.
After moving to Seer Green when she was 11, Claire studied at Gerrards Cross Cof E combined school before completing her GSCEs and A levels at Beaconsfield High.
Now working as a TV production manager, she took the leap and decided to enrol for the army reserves which ultimately led to her flying out to Afghanistan for an experience of a lifetime.
She said: "Normally I work in an office, negotiating budgets, managing schedules and setting up locations for filming for companies like the BBC.
"Coming out here I didn’t know what to expect, but it’s been a great place to learn how to work under a different kind of pressure.
"It’s really interesting meeting the Afghan soldiers. We saw hundreds of them marching at a new battle school near Camp Bastion and they looked very proud of their progress."
When she returns to the UK in the spring, Claire said is looking forward to using her experiences of working in a conflict area to good effect.
She added: "Leading a small team means I have to be organised and we have to be alert. It’s given me great confidence to return home with.
"I don’t know where my career will take me, but I’ve definitely benefited from being here."