Darcy Thorp (8) from Thetford has been announced as the winner of Little Troopers’ September Stories competition. Darcy’s story “Evie’s Christmas Surprise” will be published on Little Troopers Treasures, our free story-recording app for military families. The app, which can be used on tablet devices, allows families to stay connected when a serving parent is deployed or has to work away from home.
Louise Fetigan, founder of the charity, said: “Military families tell us that Little Troopers Treasures is such a valuable tool to help them stay connected during deployments and time away from each other. While there are all sorts of different stories available on the app, we thought it would be extra special to publish a story about military life written by a real little trooper. Darcy’s story is something that lots of military children will relate to and it really warmed our hearts.”
Darcy’s story was chosen as the winner by the judges: children’s author, Donna David; author, Tom Palmer; illustrator Lorna Stannard; and Little Troopers charity founder, Louise Fetigan. The story has been professionally illustrated by Lorna and will join the library on the Little Troopers Treasures tablet app soon.
Donna David, children’s author and one of the competition judges, said: “We had so many wonderful entries and it was so tough to judge but Darcy’s story stood out for how it captured the emotions that many Little Troopers experience when a parent is away from home. Darcy showed us how important it is to keep in touch and we could all relate to the significance of sending and receiving letters. I love a positive tale and Darcy’s story, with the Christmas setting, is the perfect happy ending.”
“Evie’s Christmas Surprise” is about a little girl called Evie whose Dad is in the Armed Forces and is deployed overseas just before Christmas. Darcy, whose Dad serves in the RAF Regiment, drew inspiration for the story after hearing about the Little Troopers Christmas Smiles campaign, which brings smiles to the faces of military children who have a parent serving overseas during the holidays. Although Darcy’s Dad hasn’t been away at Christmas since she was a baby, Darcy wanted to write a story exploring some of the emotions that other military children might feel when they are missing a parent at this time of year. The book also pays tribute to Darcy’s Grandad who once dressed up as Santa to surprise her.
Darcy comments: “I am so happy that I have won the competition, I couldn’t stop smiling when I found out and I wanted to tell my Daddy, who was away at the time, straight away. I really hope my story makes other military children happy when they read it and gives them hope that it won’t be long before their parent come home. I really enjoyed writing it so I hope everyone enjoys reading it.”
Darcy’s mum, Gemma Thorp, adds: “Darcy really enjoys writing and she’s always starting a new story but this is the first one she has actually finished! We are so proud of her for winning the competition! Her Dad is deploying in the new year so I’m sure we will be getting him to record himself reading the story for Darcy to watch while he is away.”
Available exclusively to military personnel, Little Troopers Treasures was launched in 2017 to keep military families connected even when they are miles apart. Parents record themselves reading stories for their children to watch back at any time. As the video plays, the pages turn in synchronisation with the parent’s voice. More than 8,000 stories have been recorded to date and the app features a range of much-loved children’s e-books including Judith Kerr’s Mog books, Michael Bond’s Paddington, Emma Chichester-Clark’s Blue Kangaroo as well as stories from Bing.
As well as the app, the charity has a series of accompanying resources to help make time apart a little easier including weekly planner sheets, separation diaries time difference sheets.
Louise, adds “We were so blown away by Darcy’s story, and the fact that it was inspired by Christmas Smiles, that we are making her book part of this year’s campaign. We are printing 100 copies of the book to give away to little troopers throughout December.”