A SOLDIER who helped transform a hostile area of Afghanistan, allowing 140 children to return to school, received a commendation from the Queen.

Serjeant Matthew Perry, of 2nd Battalion The Rifles, helped develop and mentor a new Afghan Local Police (ALP) force in previously lawless areas of Helmand Province.

Sjt Perry, of Maindee, Newport, was a corporal at the time and lived alongside the recruits, ate and trained with them, and was responsible for everything from weapon handling and detention training to overseeing their pay, clothing issue and personal conduct.

The former St Julian’s School pupil, 28, was credited for approaching the recruits with professionalism and humility, rapidly gaining their trust, respect and friendship, so that when they graduated he deployed with them to their new checkpoint.

Under his guidance the ALP quickly earned the acceptance, trust and support of villagers and more recruits have been taken on.

Since its creation the village’s only school, which was previously empty due to security fears, has reopened and is now educating 140 children.

Local councillors now enter the village without fear, allowing people to connect with governance figures, resolve disputes and gain access to services.

Sjt Perry, who received the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service (QCVS) is one of 106 military personnel to get an operation honour today.