A FORKLIFT truck driver from Consett has been called up to serve with the armed forces in Iraq.

Lance Bombardier Stephanie McCormack, 22, is one of 55 Territorial Army soldiers from the North-East who will spend six months in the country as part of Operation Telic.

A member of 101 Regiment Royal Artillery, based in Gateshead, she will complete her training in Germany before deploying to Iraq with the 4th Battalion Royal Artillery.

It is one of the largest mobilisations of TA gunners from the region since the Second World War.

Ms McCormack, a former pupil of Blackfyne Comprehensive School, said: "Going to Iraq is a bit like stepping into the unknown. It will be an experience but I am looking forward to it."

She joined the TA five years ago and now lives in Newcastle.

"My mum has settled to the idea and she has promised to write and send lots of parcels," she said. "I have just passed my Heavy Goods Vehicle licence with the TA, so when I return I hope to be able to drive a Heavy Goods Vehicle in my civilian job."