7 Years without Lee Rigby
In 2013, British Army Solider, Fusilier Lee Rigby of the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, was attacked whilst off duty in Woolwich in South East London and brutally murdered. He was just 25 years old at the time and left behind his wife Rebecca and their two-and-a-half-year-old son, Jack.
The unprovoked attack was so shocking that the nation publicly mourned the loss of the solider, with widespread press coverage of his death and subsequent trial which eventually found Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale guilty of his murder.
Rebecca and their son, Jack, who is now nine years old, have quietly mourned their hero, but seven years after his death, they are appealing for everyone who has been touched by their story to buy Lee a pint. Donations will go to Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved British Forces children which supports Jack and hundreds of other children like him.
Rebecca who lives in Halifax, West Yorkshire has spoken to Scotty’s Little Soldiers founder, Nikki Scott, about life after Lee and what her and Jack have been through. Rebecca has agreed to share the video of her opening up to Nikki, as she wants raise awareness of the charity that means so much to her and Jack.
In the video, Rebecca is seen telling Nikki: “Everybody knew where they were when Diana died, everybody knew where they were when the towers were struck, and everybody knew where they were when Lee were killed.”
She talks about the impact on Jack, despite him only being two and a half when his dad was killed. “He regressed when it all happened, and he went back to the bottle and he wouldn’t eat solid foods. He just refused everything and he started grunting instead of talking every time you spoke to him, and that’s all you’d get out of him. He really did go backwards and it really did affect him. The only time I used to hear him really speaking was he had this mobile and it were an old phone and he used to go and sit and speak to his dad and he’d sit and have a conversation.”
Nikki Scott understands only too well how hard it is to lose a loved one – her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, leaving behind two young children. Seeing the devastating impact on her kids she set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2010 to support bereaved British Forces children. Scotty’s has supported Jack since August 2013.
Rebecca tells Nikki how hard it is to explain to Jack what happened to his dad: “You can’t tell them at such a young age exactly what went on. I’ve just been adding that piece every time he’s asked. I’ll tell him a little bit more. He’s got to the point now where he has tried looking at things and I’ve had to sit him down and say, ‘listen, there are things out there. If you put your dad’s name in google things are going to come up, if you put your name in google things are going to come up that you shouldn’t really be seeing. If you want to know anything you can ask me’. I’ve always been open and honest with him about what happened.”
Rebecca admits that her and Jack are finding the Coronavirus pandemic particularly difficult.
“For children like Jack, and all the other Scotty’s kids, losing a parent is real. They know what it’s like. Whereas another child whose never experienced that kind of loss, probably wouldn’t even think about it at the moment. It wouldn’t necessarily enter their head, but for children like Jack, who have suffered that loss, it’s very real for them and that possibility is real.”
With the anniversary of Lee’s death on 22nd May, it is particularly hard this year as they are unable to even visit his grave.
“I think this year I’ll find difficult because I won’t be able to go to the cemetery. I can’t walk to the cemetery, we don’t live in walking distance, so since lockdown we’ve not been able to go, and that’s one thing Jack keeps saying, because he calls the cemetery ‘daddy’s flowers’. That’s because when he was younger, he didn’t understand what a cemetery was, and I didn’t want to tell him until he was able to understand and accept without being frightened.”
Rebecca continues: “I can remember having to tell him what the grave were, because he asked me what had happened to his daddy’s body, because when he died I explained that daddy’s body were broken, and that because of that obviously he couldn’t come back. And he was like, ‘what happened to daddy’s body?’ This were a bit later on. At first, he was quite happy to accept that daddy’s body were broken which meant he weren’t coming home. But as he got a bit older (he asked), ‘what happened to it?’ I remember thinking, how am I supposed to tell you without frightening you. That’s a big thing to tell such a young child.”
Seven years after Lee’s death, Rebecca wants to honour her husband: “With it coming up to the anniversary, I thought what can we do that means people can pay their respects to Lee, but means that Scotty’s can benefit as well? So I thought, what way can I do this, how can we do it where somebody can pay their respects and just donate a couple of quid, which wouldn’t break the bank, but it could really help one of the kids from Scotty’s. The easiest way – buy Lee pint! If he walked into a pub, there’d be plenty of people who’d offer to buy him a pint for his birthday, or just to see him, so why not pay your respects, donate a couple of quid, buy Lee a pint.”
Rebecca continues: “Scotty’s means a lot to hundreds of children. It is not just one or two, and it does mean a lot to Jack. He has named his dog after Scotty’s.”
“If everyone who’d heard of Lee donated a pound, then it would make a good amount for Scotty’s and it would be fantastic to show Jack that so much had been raised in his dad’s name.”
Scotty’s Little Soldiers does lots of things to support its members, including providing access to the very best health and wellbeing care, offering outstanding development opportunities through a range of activity and educational grants, and Scotty’s helps put smiles back on those brave faces by providing respite breaks, organising events, posting them birthday and Christmas presents and remembering the anniversary of their parent’s death.
Usually, at this time of year, Scotty’s would be arranging respite breaks for the families, but sadly this isn’t possible at present. In recent weeks, the charity has had to adapt to the current climate and has been using modern technology and arranging exciting virtual events and activities to engage with its members as well as offering an increased level of emotional support to a great number of families who are struggling to cope with added pressures.
To buy Lee Rigby a pint and support hundreds of bereaved British Forces children like Jack, go to: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/pintforlee