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Model plane; Nell takes to the skies in Hawk jet.

Byline: ERYL CRUMP and HUGO DUNCAN

FORCES sweetheart Nell McAndrew left airmen at a North Wales RAF base on Cloud Nine yesterday.

The star of the reality TV show I'm A Celebrity. ..Get Me Out Of Here arrived at RAF Valley,Anglesey, at lunchtime for a two-day visit and was immediately the centre of attention.

Opening the newly refurbished NAAFI shop on the base, she said: ``It's really great to be here and everyone is really welcoming -it is always nice to be with the forces.

``They always make a big effort which is really flattering.

``It's great to give their morale a boost and show them how much support they have got. I get letters from troops out in the Gulf and it is very important to show them we support them and appreciate what they are doing.''

Nell, 30, was taken to the Hawk simulator where she was strapped into an ejector seat.

It was a realistic preparation for Nell who is set to take a real flight around the region in a Hawk jet trainer later today.

``It was really exciting,'' she said. ``I got the feel of how it is going to be up in the plane. I have never been in one of these jets before so I'm looking forward to it.

``I got all the kit on and was trying out the safety equipment in case of an emergency.''

Last night Nell met more airmen at the base and took the opportunity to sign some calendars.

``When Christmas comes and the calendar comes out, rather than going around shops I prefer to go around the bases and see the guys and show them some support,'' she said.

Later Nell had dinner in the Officers' Mess.

RAF Valley spokesman Squadron Leader Mark Byrne said: ``We are delighted that she has been able to make time to visit the base.

``We are the busiest training base in the RAF and there are over 1,000 service men and women based here.

``In addition there are over 700 civilian workers at the base and everyone was very happy to meet her.''

Nell became ``Forces Sweetheart'' last year and has already visited many units and bases in the UK and overseas.

She travelled to Iraq during the conflict, visiting around 2,500 troops in just two days.

In the run-up to Christmas she is hoping to travel to bases in Northern Ireland and Germany to boost the morale of the troops who are unable to be with their families for the festive season.

Earlier this autumn she launched a calendar, with the proceeds divided equally between the National Gulf Veterans and Families Association,Hollybush House, the Army Benevolent Fund, the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Royal Naval Benevolent Trust.

Nell,from,Leeds stands six-feet tall and was the first ``real life'' Lara Croft.

She promoted the computer game, but Hollywood bosses decided to hand the movie role to Oscar-winning actress Angelina Jolie.

CAPTION(S):

Model Nell McAndrew (left) all kitted out in a life-jacket at RAF Valley yesterday, and (right) getting into her flying gear as she prepared for her flight in a Hawk jet later today
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Dec 5, 2003
Words:531
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