A HIGH-ranking British Army officer has thanked the people of Bolton for supporting troops in Afghanistan over Christmas.

More than 500 comfort boxes winged their way from the Bolton barracks to soldiers serving in the troubled country in time for the festive season.

General Sir Richard Barrons has written to veteran Jack Dixon, who co-ordinated the campaign to send everyday and luxury goods to troops, thanking him and the people of Bolton, Bury, Horwich and Westhoughton for their “wonderful generosity”.

Mr Dixon, who served as a sergeant with the Royal Artillery Association, said: “Already I have received 14 letters thanking Bolton and district for the comfort boxes, including one from the General, the highest-ranking officer I have ever received a letter from.

“It is brilliant, it is always nice to receive a letter of thanks, and it is nice to know that high-ranking officers know what we are doing. It is nice to be appreciated.”

In his letter, Sir Richard wrote: “I would like to convey my sincere thanks for the Christmas comfort boxes you have sent to my Regiment on operations in Afghanistan.

“The boxes have been particularly well received, both in terms of their usefulness for day-to-day living and because of the generous sentiment at Christmas. Toothpaste, razors and other such useful items are always welcome, but it is knowing that the operational endeavour is appreciated and recognised that is particularly significant.

“Please convey my gratitude and appreciation to the Bolton Royal Artillery Association, to the ex- Gunners who packed the boxes and to the people for their wonderful generosity.”

Mr Dixon, who lives in Breightmet, started the campaign in 2006, which grew to be the country’s largest co-ordinated effort.

Since it started, 13,000 boxes filled with goods worth more than £120,000 have been dispatched.

The campaign has now closed as preparations are made to withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

Mr Dixon, the Chairman of the Central Lancashire Branch of the Royal Artillery Association, said the association would now provide support for soldiers as they returned home.