For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in the military, war and weaponry. I grew up in the days when it was okay to give your children toy guns and send them off to do battle with the kids from the next street along. I was even given a paratrooper’s uniform – with putties – and a knife with a blade that retracted when you stabbed your enemy. It was, quite honestly, lush.
My fascination with uniforms continued as I joined the Cubs, then the Scouts, then the Air Cadets, the Officer Training Corp and, finally, the Special Constables. I never did realise my dream of joining the armed forces as my eyesight was too bad to join the branches I wanted to; Military Police, Military Intelligence and the RAF Regiment.
Friends of my did however. Two of them are dead thanks to IEDS and one of my closest friends, my little brother in all but name, is currently out in Afghanistan, ‘living the dream’ as they call it. I’ve always thought it must be hard on the families of service personnel, seeing the person that they love go off for months at a home, sometimes to never return, but I’ve never really thought about the wives/husbands. They, after all is said and done, made the choice to marry/partner up with someone in the armed forces. I’ve always felt for the kids.
So, imagine how I felt this morning as I was having a cup of tea before starting work, when I saw Nikki Scott of Scotty’s Little Soldiers talking about the work that her charity does for children who have lost a parent. The bare bones of the background is that she lost her own husband, Corporal Lee Scott, who was sadly killed in Afghanistan in July 2009 leaving behind her and their two young children. Nine months or so after that horrible event, she took her children on holiday and, seeing her son smiling in the pool, realised that it was the first time nine months she had seen him smile. I most certainly teared up then. Being a father of two amazing kids, I would hate to see them so hurt, and I empathise far too easily.
As a result of seeing her, hearing her talk about the great work that they do for children, and how doing this has helped her and her children, I’ve contacted the charity and made them an offer that they’ll hopefully take me up on. We’ve all heard of the Royal Legion and Help For Heroes, and they do amazing work – which again I’m hoping to support next year – but I think it’s far more important to put a smile back on the faces of kids that have lost one of the most important people in their lives, and start healing wounds that no-one can see, but which will be with them forever.