BRITISH soldiers fighting in Iraq have issued a plea to their County Durham relatives to send them basic essentials such as toilet roll and painkillers.

Corporal Andy Aitken, 36, who heads the uniformed services course at Derwentside College in Stanley, was called up as a reservist and is with the 101 Pioneer Squadron in the Gulf.

He sent a letter to his colleagues at the campus, pleading with them to send aid out to North-East soldiers.

The wish list of goods includes ski goggles, desert camouflage trousers and boots - even underpants - plus sunglasses, toothpaste and toothbrushes, antiseptic spray, painkillers and foot powder.

Cpl Aitken also appeals for creature comforts such as chewing gum, sweets, deodorant and mouth wash, razors and shaving cream.

Sue Self, uniformed services lecturer, said: "We will do what we can, so long as the students have got the energy.

"There are quite a few of our former students out there and we hope to be able to help them as well."

Asda in Stanley will hold a collection for the troops this Friday and shoppers can donate goods.

Goods will be boxed up by the college students, who will pack shopping at the store, to pay for postage.