Chef finds herself on front line duty

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A YOUNG Army chef from Aberdeenshire, who was sent to Afghanistan to cook for soldiers, has found herself on the front line.

Private Cheryl Walker was deployed to patrol bases in the Nahr-e Saraj area of Helmand province.

But as one of the few women in a forward location she has found herself heading out with patrols to search suspicious women for components for Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).

Private Walker, 21, from Inverurie, accompanies members of the 1st Battalion Princess of Wales’ Royal Regiment, who spearhead the policy advisory team in Helmand.

She said that searching women can be a highly sensitive subject in Afghanistan, adding: “I search suspicious women during the course of patrols to make the lives of the guys on the ground easier and more secure.

“This sort of job often takes place during cordon operations, where high security levels are needed.”

Though her day job is radically different to what she thought, the chef still puts on an apron to cook for the troops at night.

She said: “Day to day I feed 25 soldiers which is pretty demanding task in itself. I’ve got very limited resources and only a single gas stove.”

Private Walker was also deployed to Iraq as a cook in 2009.