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FRIENDS and relatives of soldiers serving in Afghanistan gathered at the Abbotscroft Territorial Army (TA) base on Tuesday (April 19) to welcome home their heroes.

More than 70 personnel from the Second Royal Irish finished a six-month tour of Nade Alli South earlier this week.

The 73 soldiers, who served alongside the First Royal Irish battalion in the war-torn region, were given a rousing reception at the Doagh Road TA base.

One soldier, local man William Ball, was welcomed by his family and fiancee Sarah Hill.

He said: “It was tough, very intense, we worked very hard, but it’s what you expect and we were well looked after.

“We couldn’t have been better trained for the tour, but nothing can prepare you for someone shooting at you.

“But it is fantastic to be home to see the family again and my fiancee.”

Pictured are Ranger Michael Snoddy with his two children Rebecca and Samuel

And Ranger William Ball with his finacee Sarah Hill.