Willow Deane from Fulwood, Preston, has been named ‘Little Trooper of the Month’ as she has spent more than 22 months of her life with one or the other parent serving overseas, missing several of Willow’s birthdays and Christmases.
When Willow was just three weeks old, her Dad was deployed overseas for four months and just a few days after he returned, Willow’s Mum was also sent away. Over the next two years, the couple played ‘tag team;’ taking it in turns to go on exercises and military operations around the globe.
With the back-to-back deployments understandably putting strain on the couple’s relationship, Willow’s parents decided to separate in early 2022. Since then, Willow’s Mum, Alex, has completed two further deployments as a single parent, spending nine of the last twelve months away from home. During this time, Alex’s Mum, Willow’s Nanna, Sue, moved into the family home to look after Willow.
On top of the challenges of military life, Willow was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when she was just 18 months old. As well as causing her daily pain and discomfort, the condition is also frustrating for Willow as she struggles to keep up with her friends and she tires easily.
Willow’s Mum, Alex, nominated her for the Little Troopers award and explains: “Willow has been an absolute superstar with all the upheaval and change that she has experienced in her life. She does get upset and sheds a few years when I have to go away, but she understands that it is my job and she takes it in her stride and carries on being the phenomenal little girl she is. I nominated her for the Little Troopers award because I want her to be recognised for how well she has handled not having her Mummy home so much, especially in the last 12 months. She’s so excited to have her very own medal, just like Mummy and Daddy. It’s made her one very happy little girl.”
Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, comments: “Having a parent deployed is one of the most difficult parts of being a military child, so to have both parents serving and going on multiple deployments in such a short space of time must have been really hard for Willow and her family. This is why our charity exists. To recognise children like Willow who are growing up in our British Armed Forces community and deserve to be supported through these experiences and celebrated for being special little troopers. We hope Willow wears her medal with pride.”
Willow will receive a medal, certificate and a gift voucher as her prize.