When I meet people through the charity work I do the first question is usually, why? Why did you found Little Troopers?
Simply; because my daughter at the time was really struggling, we lived in our own home not in military housing and she was finding long periods of separation concurrently really hard to deal with.
I was a soldier and my husband is still a serving soldier, we had at the time a 7 year daughter, we had encountered Kosovo, Iraq, Cyprus UN tour, Canada and Afghanistan many a time before she was born and since, add onto that countless field exercises and I think we calculated in her 7 years her daddy had been away accumulatively 4+ years of her life.
At the time we lived in our own home away from barracks, our daughter went to a predominantly civilian school and the Army had very little involvement in our lives other than it took my husband and her daddy away from home often and for long periods.
Madisons change in behaviours were subconscious to her, she wasn’t aware they were a result of anxiety or worry as they were subtle changes; waking in the night, every night, twice a night! regressing to behaviours of a very small child…not dressing, not wanting to do anything alone, asking where I was going even if I was just leaving the room!
I searched and searched but couldn’t find the support I knew she needed, nothing child specific, nothing to distract my daughter from the worry of her daddy being in a war zone, nothing to explain her recent behaviour changes, nothing purely because ‘I am 7 and I’m sad because I can’t see or speak to my daddy when I want’
It started with a trek of Snowdon and then My Daddy is a Soldier Adventures was born, a registered charity serving every British Army family which was initially founded by myself and my friend and fellow Army wife Linda Trickett.
We are now 6 years on, Linda has moved onto pastures new and in November 2015 I relaunched as a tri-service charity expanding our provision to benefit Royal Air Force and Royal Naval families in addition to the British Army families we already supported. What has evolved is an amazing community for all British Armed Forces families, regular or reserve and what bonds everyone is the military. You don’t have to be married parents, you don’t have to live in military accommodation, it doesn’t matter what rank, regiment, base or ship you are, we are purely here to support children with serving parents, our Little Troopers at Home.
Military personnel go away for many reasons; operations, courses, exercises and to many locations all over the world, as a charity we ensure there are fundamental resources and activities to ease and aid a separation period and a community for all that is welcome and familiar.
Celebration is something I also try to achieve, we are all part of something really special and it can be a positive for adults and children so with our Summer Camp annual event especially we get as many families as possible together and celebrate being forces families as well as our Little Trooper of the Month and Birthday schemes.
My little girl is now 13 and moving through secondary school, we have moved back into military housing adapting to changes that came our way and I continue to work hard to grow the charity reaching as many families as possible. As a family we are all stronger because of the Little Troopers community and I really hope I will meet many of you as the journey continues supporting Little Troopers everywhere