MEMBERS of the Navy, Army and Air Force Institutes (NAAFI) have been honoured for their work with the forces in Afghanistan.

The Lord Lieutenant of County Durham, Sir Paul Nicholson, presented operational service medals and Queen’s Jubilee medals to 11 members of the service at a ceremony in Darlington today (Wednesday, December 12).

Among the recipients was Chloe Hollinshead, 22, of Catterick who recently returned from a six-month posting at Camp Bastion in Afghanistan.

She said she was “over the moon” with her medal and admitted that before she joined the NAAFI, she had never even been in an aeroplane before.

“I was really nervous, I was the only female in our team so it was a bit scary at first,” she said.

“But when you get out there you just get used to the noise, planes flying overhead and alarms going off.

“I’m looking forward to going back, I was ready to go back after a week,” added Miss Hollinshead who is returning to Afghanistan on January 11.

NAAFI members run shops at army bases around the world and offer comfort and support to soldiers while on tour.

Retired oil worker and NAFFI member, Ian Sale, 60, of Durham also received a service medal and said the role was hugely rewarding.

He said: “The sad part is attending the vigils, then you realise that some of these lads are a little over 18-years-old.

“These kids should be enjoying life but we are in a warzone. I just try to offer support and advice.

“Two of the lads wrote letters to me afterwards and I can’t tell you how good that felt.”