Hero of the Month…Lance Corporal Ricky Baldwin 1984 – 2008
Once a year in November the whole world comes together to remember our fallen heroes, however, at Scotty’s Little Soldiers we know that for families who have lost someone who served in the Armed Forces, Remembrance Day is every day.
Every one of our members has lost a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, and we believe their lives and sacrifice should always be remembered. In our hero of the month posts we celebrate the lives of our members’ fallen heroes every month of the year.
This month we honour Lance Corporal Ricky Baldwin, a married father of two, who was killed in a car accident while off duty in Germany.
Lance Corporal Ricky Baldwin (23) served in The 5th Battalion The Rifles and was based in Paderborn, Germany when he died. He joined the army at the age of 16 and originally enlisted into The Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment. During his career, he served in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, the Falkland Islands, and most recently in Iraq. He joined The Rifles in 2006.
Described by his friends and colleagues as a larger than life character, Ricky was loved by everyone who knew him. His Commanding Officer, Major Jake White gave the following tribute after his death: “Ricky died as he lived life – to the full. A naturally larger than life character, Ricky was never happier than when spending time with his young family, particularly if that happened to coincide with time spent in ‘God’s country’ (Gloucestershire).”
Over 12 years on and Sadie can still remember the day he died and the overwhelming chill that came over her. She was in the back garden the day he was killed and vividly recalls coming over all cold but didn’t know why.
It was when it started getting late into the evening when Ricky hadn’t returned home that Sadie started to worry that something had happened. Ricky was usually home from work by 7.30pm. When it got to 8.30pm Sadie decided she’d go to bed when she saw four figures standing at her door. She knew then that something bad had happened.
Sadie, who had only just turned 21 and was living in a foreign country, had to tell her young children that their daddy wouldn’t be coming home. Both Lilly-Mae and Oliver were too young to understand what was happening.
Sadie recalls she started by telling them that he’d gone to heaven. Being so young the children didn’t question it for some time, but as they got older, she found herself explaining it to them. Sadie said: “It’s been hard as they experienced grief as they’ve grown up and haven’t fully understood what happened to their daddy for a long time.”
Sadie stayed in Germany with her children for two weeks after Ricky’s death before moving back to the UK.
Full of life, fun and cheeky are just a few words Sadie uses to describe Ricky’s character. She explains, he was someone who would instantly light up a room. She said: “he could be so cheeky but then he’d flash his smile and you’d instantly forget why you were annoyed with him.” He loved being in the Army and making friends all over the world.
Family was everything to Ricky, Sadie explains he was most proud of being a dad. She recalls, “Ricky grew up when I had Lilly-Mae”. Although both children were young when he passed away, Sadie remembers that he’d made so many plans of what they would do as a family and the memories they would make.
The memories they did make as a family will stick with Sadie forever. Her fondest memory is Ricky’s first ever nappy change. Sadie recalls how he got up in the night to change his daughter Lilly-Mae’s nappy, she said: “it was the first time we’d changed her since we came home from hospital. As he was changing her, she pooped again but this time it hit him full on in the chest and he didn’t change her nappy for quite some time after that.”
Being a dad was by far Ricky’s greatest achievement, Sadie explains, after Lilly-Mae was born his whole outlook on life changed and what he loved to do. There was also an adventurous side to Ricky, he did so much in such a short space of time, from trekking in the Kenya Mountains to rolling around in the Canadian Hills.
Sadie was the love of his life, and she remembers fondly the day they met. Both living in the same town the pair didn’t meet until 2005. She said: “The first time I saw Ricky I’d just received my A-level results and was celebrating with friends when he walked up the opposite side of the street. I saw him and said to my friend, ‘I’m going to marry that guy.’ Then two days later we met properly in a pub and our whirlwind romance started from there.”
15 months after they met, Sadie and Ricky got married. They had Lilly-Mae in 2007 and Oliver came along in 2008, just a few months before he died.
The children were so young when they lost their dad that Sadie spends time with the children, looking at photos, telling stories and watching videos to help keep his memory alive. Although the children are now older, Sadie said it still impacts them. She said: “Having no memories can sometimes be worse than having memories.”
An important support network for the children since losing their dad has been Scotty’s Little Soldiers. Lilly-Mae and Oliver joined the charity in 2015 and since then have benefited from its support. Having the opportunity to go on holiday and access to additional bereavement support through third party organisations such as Winston’s Wish has been hugely beneficial to the children.
Sadie said: “Scotty’s has helped my two smile. Remembering Ricky’s anniversary and other special days helps the children out. They feel they are not alone, and people do care they are missing a piece of their life.
“Without Scotty’s we would feel alone, isolated and like Ricky has been forgotten. To know there are others out there that get it and want to make sure the children are doing okay is amazing. We miss Ricky every day. It’s still so hard 12 years on but it’s amazing to have a family like Scotty’s that in hard times, parents can go to for help, and kids can just be with others who get it and get them.”
You can make a personal tribute to Ricky on this special webpage by clicking here.