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Wednesday, 30 July 2014

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Proud Ulverston grandparents care for girl while soldier mum serves in Afghanistan

THE family of a single mother serving as a medic in Afghanistan have spoken of their pride.

Sergeant Jennifer Gray, a former Walney School pupil, is eight weeks into a seven-month tour of the war-torn country – her first since her daughter Madison was born.

The soldier’s father and stepmother, who are looking after Madison at their home in Ulverston, say it is a constant worry knowing Jennifer is in such a dangerous part of the world, but they are immensely proud of the job she does.

Chris and Hayley Gray, of Church Fields Avenue, said Madison misses her mother but they are enjoying spending time with the two-year-old, who was a flower girl when the couple got married in August.

Mrs Gray said: “Madison was quite upset at the point they said goodbye. Seven months is a long time – they are missing each other a lot.”

But the family communicate using FaceTime, a video messaging service, every other day where possible.

Mrs Gray added: “They enjoy the FaceTime.”

The family also send regular care parcels out to Afghanistan. They have included photographs, pictures Madison has drawn and, on one occasion, a T-shirt the two-year-old painted for her mother.

Mr Gray said: “We are all proud of her and worry about her. You try not to think too much about it – you don’t know what they are going through.”

Sgt Gray, 26, has served in the army for 10 years and has spent time in Iraq, Germany and the Falklands.

The family said an emotional goodbye when the medic, based in Catterick, North Yorkshire, left for Afghanistan on Easter weekend.

The soldier, whose mother lives in Barrow, will return to the UK for two weeks at the end of July before heading back out until mid-October.

Madison sees her father, who is also in the Armed Forces, on alternate weekends but Mrs Gray says she is too young to fully understand what her parents do.

She said: “She knows her mum is being very brave at work. We are really proud of her and Madison will be when she is old enough to understand it.”

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