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Yorkshire rector sent to Afganistan as chaplain

25 January 2013

by a staff reporter

Fellowship: Sean Robertshaw

Fellowship: Sean Robertshaw

A TEAM Rector from a rural parish in Yorkshire has been sent on a three-month tour of duty in Afghanistan as a chaplain to the Territorial Army.

The Team Rector, Canon Sean Robertshaw, is sending back regular updates of life in Kabul to his parish of the Upper Holme Valley. In the week that Prince Harry's latest tour of Afghanistan featured on television, Canon Robertshaw said that, for the soldiers out there, "death was a constant companion".

In his latest update, he said: "Tonight . . . we will remember Sapper Richard Walker, who died of wounds sustained when an Afghan opened fire on his colleagues in a compound; there were other injured, too. . .

"However death is dressed up, whatever we say, it is another British life, another family left devastated. Death is a constant companion. Every briefing before an operation or a move highlights the threat. . .

"In fact, as I write, news is just coming in that another vehicle carrying a suicide device has been detonated in Kabul, and a fire-fight has ensued. I wonder what that will bring." He is not likely to enter combat, but will be working to offer aid to the residents of Kabul, in the "hearts and minds war". He prays each morning with the doctor at the camp.

"We are a small Christian presence, a flickering light in a country that has no Christian presence to speak of at all. I am glad of the fellowship of my British and American congregations, both here in Kabul and at home in the Holme Valley."

Canon Robertshaw joined the Royal Army Chaplains' Department soon after he was ordained in 1993, after hearing the stories of soldiers who had returned from the first Gulf war.

Troop numbers to fall. The withdrawal of 3800 British troops from Afghanistan is unlikely to take place until the autumn, the Deputy Commander of the International Security Assistance Force, Lt Gen. Nick Carter, said this week.

British troop numbers were reduced from 9500 to 9000 before Christmas, and numbers are set to fall to 5200 by the end of this year, as responsibility for security is handed over to the Afghans. The remainder will leave by the end of 2014.

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