HERO soldiers who have risked their lives fighting in Afghanistan have been in Wrexham to help promote the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal.

Among the servicemen highlighting the importance of the RBL’s campaign, which was launched at Wrexham Railway Station, was former Ysgol Bryn Alyn pupil, Fusilier Gareth Jones, of the First Battalion Royal Welsh.

Gareth, aged 25, and originally from Hightown, recounted how in 2007 he came under enemy fire from rockets, heavy machine gun and rifles.

“We were on patrol in the Baluchi Valley region of Uruzgan Province when the attack came. We were with Royal Marines. We fought back and in total the whole thing lasted about 30 minutes. In the end the enemy disappeared away,” said Gareth.

“We are here today to highlight the Royal British Legion’s poppy appeal. It is a very important campaign and all support given by the public is greatly appreciated.”

Sgt Nathan Williams, also of the Royal Welsh, revealed he had been wounded in action just 12 months ago while serving in Helmand Province.

“I was part of the brigade reconnaissance force which came under fire. We fought back and I was shot through the mouth. It felt like being hit really hard in the face with a baseball bat.”

A helicopter was called to take Nathan, from South Wales, out of combat and to hospital. However he had to run for a mile-and-a-half with full kit and undertake two river crossings to reach the landing zone. As if that wasn’t enough - the enemy was still shooting.

“I was tired and drained but the adrenaline just kept me going,” he said.

Nathan, aged 31, sustained a broken jaw and cheek bone, requiring doctors to insert two metal plates.

“I have been in the Army for 14 years. I thoroughly enjoy the life. I would like to stress just how much the armed forces appreciate the backing members of the public give the poppy appeal,” he added.

Rail company Wrexham and Shropshire is joining forces with the Royal British Legion for this year’s poppy appeal.

Wrexham and Shropshire will be displaying RBL literature on trains, offering poppies and collecting donations to help the appeal reach its 2010 target of £36 million - £2 million more than last year.

Community fundraiser for the legion, Kevin Forbes, said: “We are delighted Wrexham and Shropshire is giving this support. The money we raise helps us to keep providing invaluable support to armed forces families as we stand shoulder to shoulder with all those who serve.

“I encourage everyone to get involved in whatever way they can. Whether it’s through fundraising or simply picking up a poppy the next time they get on board a Wrexham and Shropshire train. It all helps.”