“My children have already lost a parent so for them the fear of losing another is even stronger”

Caroline shares her lockdown experience

Marham mum shares her lockdown experience and why local military charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, has helped bring some much-needed relief

 Losing a parent is something no child should ever have to experience, but for Marham siblings, Lucy, and Edward Williamson, this became a reality almost six years ago.

The pair, aged 16 and 14, lost their dad, Sergeant Robert Williamson in August 2014 to a brain tumour. Sergeant Williamson died aged 40 having served 20 years in the RAF. He left behind his wife Caroline and their two children who were nine and seven at the time.

Having already lost one parent, the last few months in lockdown have been incredibly challenging for the whole family, particularly Lucy, who is due to start college in September. But with support provided by bereaved Armed Forces children’s charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the family have received some much-needed light relief and laughter at times when they have needed it the most.

“As a single parent I’ve probably been on higher alert than most” said Caroline. “My children have already lost a parent so for them the fear of losing another is even stronger.

“Because we have had more time on our hands, we have found ourselves thinking about Rob more than maybe we would normally, which has been nice but also sad at times. Under normal circumstances we would tackle the sad days by going out and doing something fun. On significant days like his birthday or the anniversary of his death we’d go out or go on holiday.”

Since their dad’s death, Lucy and Edward have been supported by Scotty’s Little Soldiers, and over the last few months this support has been invaluable, not only in keeping the children engaged but also in providing Caroline with a network of people she can turn to for advice.

“The whole team have been absolutely fantastic throughout lockdown; they’ve helped get us through and put a smile on all our faces” said Caroline.

For her, one of the best elements of support has been the coffee mornings and grab a glass evenings hosted by Scotty’s Head of Support, Bev Townsend. The events have provided a platform where parents can virtually come together to discuss their concerns and share advice.

The children have been kept engaged through a variety of virtual events, including a virtual choir and a quiz hosted by TV personality, Alison Hammond.

Caroline said: “The quiz with Alison Hammond is certainly one of the highlights, both Lucy and Edward’s faces lit up during that quiz. It really lifted us and got us laughing. We also got to see other Scotty’s families on screen, it really made you feel part of something special.”

Keeping their members engaged has been a crucial part of Scotty’s activity over the last few months which is why they have decided to host a special virtual festival. The aim of the festival is to help its beneficiaries forget the pressures of lockdown and feel connected with other children who have lost a parent who served our country. Your Local Paper is supporting by launching an appeal to help raise the funds.

For children like Lucy and Edward, events like this really make a difference and help them through the tough times, which are made worse by the Coronavirus pandemic.

Caroline said: “I can’t stress enough how important these virtual events are right now. For Lucy and Edward, it’s not just about the activity, its about having the opportunity to be part of something with children who know what they are going through. Previously, we have been able to meet up with other Scotty families, and these virtual events give us the opportunity to see everyone, see new faces and interact with people who are experiencing the same thing you are.”

The Scotty’s Virtual Festival is planned for September and is hoped will encourage the children to forget about the worries and anxiety that the Coronavirus outbreak has brought.

The festival will take place over Zoom, meaning it is easy for members across the UK to join, and will include live music, special performances and lots of fun and games. Ahead of the event, members will be sent a pack containing everything they need to make the festival special.

Your Local Paper, based in King’s Lynn (Scotty’s hometown), selected Scotty’s as their charity of the year at the beginning of 2020 and they are launching an appeal to raise funds to ensure the festival is an occasion to remember.

Money raised will go towards filling the festival packs with anything from T-shirts and wristbands to crafts that can form a workshop or props to be used as part of the festival. Expenses associated with the event, such as postage costs for sending out the packs, will also be taken from the money raised.

Your Local Paper has kindly started the appeal with a generous donation of £250. If you’d like to make a contribution, please go to https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/ylpscottysvirtualfestival or text YLPFEST to 70085 to donate £5*.

Cheques are to be made payable to Scotty’s Little Soldiers with the reference ‘YLPFEST’ on the reverse, or you can make a donation over the phone by calling 0800 092 8571.

* Texts are charged at £5 plus one standard rate message

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