THE Press' Afghanistan appeal has raced past the £16,000 mark after receiving a £1,500 boost from our charity auction.

We offered readers the chance to bid for a once-in-a-lifetime treat that cannot normally be bought, ranging from riding on the footplate of a steam loco to 'flying' on a Tucano flight simulator at RAF Linton-on-Ouse.

The highest bids received included £255 for the ride on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway and the same amount to go on the flight simulator, with another £235 bid to help to prepare and ride on a heritage steam locomotive at the National Railway Museum in York.

Another £255 was bid to be a VIP guest of Brigadier Greville Bibby at the Royal Gun Salute in Museum Gardens next month, £41 for County Stand tickets at York Racecourse, including a visit to the parade ring to see the horses before a race, and £20 to travel in the Lord Mayor's limousine to the Mansion House for a tour and afternoon tea.

Another £175 bid came in for a family ticket to Flamingo Land near Pickering, including a half-hour ‘hands-on animal encounter’ with creatures such as meerkats and, as reported previously, a further £250 was bid for a VIP day at a York City match, including a chance to meet manager Nigel Worthington.

The City of York Afghanistan Commemorative Appeal has also been given a donation of £200 from the parish of All Saints Church in Pavement, where a stained glass window is set to be installed to recognise the service of thousands of York men and women in Afghanistan over the past decade – including three servicemen who were killed in action.

The money was given, in part, in memory of former parishioner Douglas Proctor, said priest-in-charge, the Reverend Jane Nattrass.

With a target of £17,000, the appeal has now raised just over £16,150.

Two of the successful auction bids were by Caroline Wandless, of Escrick, who secured the Gun salute as a birthday present for her father and the NRM steam loco as a treat for her husband Roger and brother-in-law, who is a steam buff.

She said: "It’s nice to give something back as in December 2000 I was the very lucky winner of The Press competition in conjunction with HMS York. I was very kindly flown out to Gibraltar where I joined the ship and sailed back with the company to Portsmouth."

• Many thanks to all the organisations who offered the fantastic treats as lots for our auction. Anyone wanting to make a donation to the appeal should send a cheque, payable to The City of York Afghanistan Commemorative Appeal, to: Mike Laycock, The Press, 76-86 Walmgate, York YO1 9YN, accompanied by their name, address and contact details.