Sidmouth padre uses wire mesh for crosses in Helmand

British Army chaplain from Sidmouth is hit with paratroopers in Helmand Province, after making crosses from the wire mesh that surrounds their base.

Padre Robin Richardson (40) – a member of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment – has been serving in Afghanistan for the past six months.

The former Sidmouth clergyman, whose first ministry was as a pastor of the Sid Valley Team Ministry, left after joining the Royal Army Chaplains’ Department in 2004.

This week he said: “Towards the beginning of this tour, some of the lads asked me if I had some crosses I could give them.

“I found a few at Camp Bastion, and I gave them out. I ran out very quickly.

“So I wandered around our camp at Shahzad, trying to find something I could fashion into a cross.

“I noticed some discarded Hesco wire, and I saw lots and lots of crosses.”

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The wire normally forms part of the Hesco Bastion fortified walls – mesh containers with thick liners filled with gravel – that surround military bases across Afghanistan.

Robin said: “I got busy with some bolt-cutters and a hammer and a drill and I started making small crosses out of the discarded wire.

“A lot of the lads have asked if they can have one and they’ve been wearing them, and understanding a bit about what lies behind it.”

Robin is due to finish his tour and return to the UK on Easter Sunday (April 24) and said: “I’ve got three sons, aged 13, 11 and seven, and they’re fab. “They give my heart a reason for beating every morning.

“The thing I’ve missed the most has been their smiles,” he added. “The first thing I’ll do when I get home is give them a hug.”

In 2009 Robin did a six month tour with the 2nd Battalion, The Royal Anglian Regiment in Basra, helping the Iraqi Army control militias and making Basra safer for Iraqis.

He studied at Loughborough University and was a teacher before deciding to join the Church. He attended Trinity Theological College, Bristol.