A tutor from Hartlepool had a Christmas break with a difference – travelling to Africa to train soldiers.
Sergeant Thomas Jeffries, 31, caught some winter sun while visiting Uganda with the British Army Reserve.
Sgt Jeffries was part of a team of regular and reserve soldiers from 4th Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment who travelled to the East African country.
He helped train 1,800 Ugandan People’s Defence Force soldiers – and even gave one the Christmas gift of a Manchester United shirt.
Sgt Jeffries said: “This is my first time in Uganda and I love it – they’re lovely people.
“Their willingness to learn is fantastic and they hang on every word. Three or four are even starting to get the British sense of humour.
“I gave one of them a Man United shirt, he loved it. I’m worried I’m going to go back with nothing in my suitcase.”
Sgt Jeffries was part of a team of 28 British soldiers were deployed to Singo camp in the south of the country to give two weeks of training.
The troops had to endure tropical rainstorms and temperatures of up to 34C as they delivered combat and counter-insurgency training in rural and urban settings.
They worked alongside soldiers from America, France and Denmark on a range of realistic, intelligence driven exercises.
The Ugandan soldiers were shown not only how to deal with IEDs and defend a convoy from attack but also how to engage with the local community.
They will put this training into practice when they are deployed as part of the African Union Mission to Somalia.
Lieutenant Colonel Michael Ssesanga – Second in Command of the Ugandan battle group – praised the British Army for their training.
He said “They want to share their experience and they are giving their best so that we will become better people and are more prepared to go.”
Sgt Jeffries works as a private tutor teaching English and PE, he also works as a recruiter for B Company.
B Company, are based at the Army Reserve Centre on Stockton Road in Middlesbrough.