A SOLDIER who returned home to Ashbourne from Afghanistan has told how she spent Christmas in a war zone so she could come back for Shrovetide.
Emma Soult, 22, joined the army two years ago and was deployed to Afghanistan with 12 LSR regiment in September last year.
Pt Soult was given a standing ovation at the Ash Wednesday Shrovetide luncheon and was also greeted with a banner welcoming her home at Shaw Croft on both days of the annual ancient game.
Pt Soult, who sat next to Prime Minister, David Cameron at Christmas when the nation’s leader travelled to visit troops in Afghanistan, said: “Your attitude changes to everything.
“In Civvy Street some things seem like an issue, like if they’ve not got my size shoe in the shops. Whereas now I just take a laid back approach to everything outside the army.
“But things like Shrovetide and stuff I still keep in my mind. That matters to me.
“There’s another soldier, Mark Cundy, who did the same as me and saved his leave for Shrovetide, because knowing you’re coming back for that can just give you the highest morale possible really.”
Pt Soult, who is a Down’ard, was invited by friends to the Ash Wednesday luncheon, where she received a standing ovation from the 570 diners.
She added: “I was happy to see Nigel turning up the ball because he is a decent bloke.
“But when I saw James Carter score it, I was like: ‘Yes. This gets better and better.’
“He was a few years above me in school and he lives down the road from me as well. I was chuffed because the last goal of the game always stays in my mind and it was a Down’ard.
“It’s weird coming home. I’ve spent some time with my mum and dad, but I’ve mostly been chilling out and done a bit of shopping.
“I’m not used to being able to just go out and do what I want, so I’m just enjoying being able to go into my own kitchen and make a sandwich if I want to.”