SOLDIERS serving in the Gulf could soon be exercising their minds even more, thanks to colleagues back home and The Northern Echo.

The paper's crossword, supplied by Bristol firm Central Press Features, is to be included in a newsletter being produced by the Army Medical Service, at Northallerton, North Yorkshire.

The service, which includes members of the Royal Army Medical Corps and Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, normally has about 150 members at Northallerton's Friarage Hospital.

But 85 staff, including doctors, nurses, healthcare assistants, theatre technicians and x-ray technicians, have been deployed to Iraq and Kuwait.

Major Joanne Barker, personnel administration officer and newly appointed editor of the newsletter, said they wanted to help their colleagues abroad maintain a link with home.

She said: "The previous editor of the newsletter is now in the Gulf and we just wanted to keep our colleagues abroad in touch with what is going on at home.

"There is not much chance to talk on the phone or e-mail, so we want to include news from home, details of events, and plenty to keep them occupied."