Celebrating Christmas at home with loved ones is something that is taken for granted by most families all over the country.
However for petty officer Kieron ‘Cheesy’ Cheesman, based at RNAS Culdrose, the reality of being away from his family is very real.
PO Cheesman is currently serving away onboard Portsmouth-based aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious. Although it had been expected back in mid-December, the trip will now over run the Christmas and New Year period.
Following the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, Illustrious is now providing humanitarian aid and disaster relief in south-east Asia, relieving HMS Daring of these duties.
Positive thinking is essential when coming to terms with situations like the Philippines, and even though ‘Cheesy’ is disappointed that he will miss Christmas, he remains upbeat and proud of the work that is being done for those in drastic need of help.
He said: “Although it’s hard missing Christmas at home with the family, knowing we are doing a worthwhile task makes all the difference.
“Seeing the initial devastation was heartbreaking but we made quite a bit of difference in a short time.”
The aircrewman, who was part of a 20 man ‘flight’, happened to be one of only two Merlin Mk1 helicopter pilots onboard.
This resulted in the father of four leaving the Horn of Africa, where he was in the middle of a counter piracy operation, and heading to Asia on the orders of Prime Minister David Cameron. Kieron did get the opportunity to send his Christmas wishes to his family back in Helston – wife Michele, sons Danny, 19 and 13-year-old Arran, plus daughters Cherie, 17 and 13-year-old Jasmin.
He said: “Really sorry we are going to miss Christmas but, as you’ve seen from the pictures, we have been doing a really important job and we can celebrate when I get home! Have a great Christmas, love you, dad.”