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My journey from bereaved military child to supporting Armed Forces veterans


“When Mum was pregnant with me, my dad used to call her bump ‘daddy’s little angel’, which is where my name, Angel, comes from, which I love. Even though I didn’t get to meet my dad, knowing my name comes from him means I always feel connected to him.”

Angel was born five months after her dad, Major Matthew Titchener, was killed in action while serving in Iraq. Never meeting her military dad has been difficult for Angel, now 20, but with the support of Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved military children, she is working tirelessly to support the military community that supported her and make her father proud.

Angel and her brother joined Scotty’s in 2016, when she was 12 years old. Since then, she’s completed work experience in the UK Cabinet Office under Johnny Mercer, the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, become part of Scotty’s Council, where she helps guide the direction of the charity’s support programmes, and even volunteered to help at Scotty’s in-person events like our annual Winter Festival – all in an effort to help the military community that has defined so much of her life.

Angel working at the Office for Veterans' Affairs

Working for the Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

In 2023, Angel and her mum, who is Chair of the Army Widows’ Association and a member of the War Widows’ Association, were invited to the Cabinet Office to mark the 20th anniversary of the Iraq War. While there, Angel met Johnny Mercer MP, the Minister of State for Veterans’ Affairs, and expressed her desire to contribute to the military community as much as she could. 

“I told him all about the Scotty’s Council and the great things Scotty’s do for bereaved military children,” says Angel. “Afterwards, I was offered work experience where I got to follow some of the Civil Servants who worked with him in all different areas. The Media and Communications Office was something I found especially interesting, and I spoke to loads of lovely people there, so I’m now considering going into the Civil Service. I think how veterans and the bereaved are dealt with by the government is a really important issue and something I have a good insight into because of my upbringing, being part of Scotty’s Council and everything my mum does. Working in communications around that area and making a difference that way is something that really appeals to me. If there was ever an opening in the veterans’ or bereavement world, I would definitely want to grab it!”

Angel and Johnny Mercer MP, the Minister of State for Veterans' Affairs

Remembering my Army dad

Angel’s dad, Major Matthew Titchener, was known for his sharp sense of humour, kind personality and lifelong love of Liverpool Football Club. Angel has learnt about him through countless stories told by her mum and older brother, and has found her own special ways of feeling connected to him. 

“Dad absolutely loved McDonald’s, so we go there on his birthday every year and talk about him and share stories about all the mischief he got up to. I love hearing about when he asked my mum to marry him. Apparently, he wasn’t feeling too well and complained afterwards that it could’ve gone better. Mum laughed and was just like, ‘I said yes, what more do you want!?’  

Despite never meeting her dad, Angel still feels a strong connection to him through her name, which he gave to her before she was born. 

“It’s so nice because Angel isn’t a super common name and when people ask about it, it means I get to talk about my dad. He died before I was born, but when I talk about why I’m called Angel, it almost feels like I’m talking about a memory of him.”

Angel's dad tucking into a McDonald's

“I made lots of connections with other bereaved children”

Angel was 12 years old when she joined Scotty’s Little Soldiers, and immediately felt the benefit of being part of a supportive military community. 

“When we first joined Scotty’s, my mum told me they wanted to send me gifts at difficult times of year and give me support. I remember thinking it was such a nice idea and I never expected anyone to do something like that for me.” 

The first Scotty’s event she attended was our annual Winter Festival – something she remembers clearly to this day. 

“That first Christmas party was so memorable. We visited a place that looked like a castle made of chocolate. It was like something from Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory and all the different rooms were based on movies. The Harry Potter room was my favourite. I made lots of connections with other bereaved children and it all just happened so naturally and effortlessly. Scotty’s events are great like that, because you’ve all been through the same sort of thing and you’re all there for the same reason, so you just get each other. That day really helped me understand why bringing bereaved children together is so important.”

Angel's dad and older brother

Representing bereaved military children

In 2023, Angel returned to Scotty’s Winter Festival as a Springboarder (Springboarders are members aged 18 – 25), helping look after our younger members and making sure they enjoyed the event as much as she did. 

“Me and some other members of the Springboard Council returned to help out all the younger Scotty members. I loved having an important role to fill and getting to see the whole event from a new perspective. It felt really good to become that person who was there for you when you were younger.” 

The Springboard Council is made up of members of Scotty’s Little Soldiers aged 18 – 25, helping to guide the direction of the charity and offering their thoughts and insight on our support. 

“I joined Scotty’s Members Council when I was younger and loved getting to work with other Scotty Members. When I became a Springboarder, I really wanted to carry on doing it, so I joined the Springboard Council. Being able to have a say in how the charity operates and the kind of support bereaved military children and young people receive is massive. It helps me feel even more connected to the military community and I really like the sense of responsibility being part of the Council gives you. It’s really cool and fulfilling to be on the other side of Scotty’s support and feel like you’re helping make a difference in someone’s life.”

Angel at Sky HQ with the Scotty's Council

Growing up with Scotty’s

Angel has been a member of Scotty’s for nearly a decade. As she’s grown up, her feelings and emotions surrounding her bereavement have changed and developed, and Scotty’s support has evolved to match. 

“When I first joined Scotty’s, the stuff I found most useful was definitely the emotional support. The parties and events and all that stuff – getting to have fun and meet lots of people. As I’ve got older and started reaching all these milestones like finishing school and going to university, the STRIDES Programme with its grants and educational support has become really important for me. I still need emotional support sometimes, but it’s more during those key times of year like anniversaries and Remembrance. The fact Scotty’s think about and support us during both is brilliant.”

A young Angel with her mum and brother at the Royal British Legion's Festival of Remembrance

“My mum is my biggest inspiration”

Times of year such as Remembrance, religious holidays, birthdays and the anniversary of their parent’s death can be particularly difficult for bereaved military children like Angel, but Scotty’s are always on hand to offer extra support. 

“Remembrance is the most difficult time of year for me. There’s a sense that everyone is more aware of your bereavement than usual, which is nice, but it can also feel quite intense. Luckily, Scotty’s always do different things to make it easier. Last Remembrance marked the twentieth year without my dad. My family and I spent the day in London, and while we were there we saw bunch of our friends from Scotty’s taking part in the parade. I spent a long time catching up with everyone and giving out hugs. Being around friends who are in the same situation as you makes a really positive difference.” 

But Scotty’s isn’t Angel’s only support. She also has her mum, who Angel describes as her “rock” and is always there whenever she needs her.  

“We love doing stuff together, especially in memory of my dad. My mum is definitely my biggest inspiration and she’s always giving up her time for both the War Widows and Army Widows’ Association, which is a big part of what inspires me to help the military community. I loved getting to see her in action when we visited Johnny Mercer – I just think she’s an absolute legend, to be honest.”

Angel and her mum with Johnny Mercer MP

Feeling connected to the military community

“For me, having that connection with other members of Scotty’s and being able to talk to people that really do truly understand what you’ve been through is priceless. There’s a real sense of community and I think it's awesome that there are so many bereaved military children all in contact and making friends with each other. I know some Springboarders who are even going on holiday together. It's just really lovely.” 

Angel continues: 

“Scotty’s means so much to all our family. I never met my dad, so I don't have memories or pictures of us together that I can put in a box. Scotty’s helps me feel connected to him and the military in other ways and has given me so many friends who understand what it’s like to grow up as a bereaved military child.”

Angel with her mum and brother in London during Remembrance 2023

About Scotty’s

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a military charity dedicated to supporting children and young people (0 to 25 years) who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces. 

Inspired by the experience of Army widow Nikki Scott, following the death of her husband Corporal Lee Scott in Afghanistan in 2009, the charity, which was set up in 2010, provides support and guidance to hundreds of bereaved military children and young people throughout their childhood.   

Scotty’s currently supports over 650 bereaved children and young people. Services offered include access to child bereavement support, guidance to parents and carers, personal education and learning assistance (including grants), and fun activities such as holiday respite breaks and group events. These are all designed to remind the children and young people supported by Scotty’s that they are not alone. 

If you know a child or young person who has experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, they could be eligible for specialist bereavement support from Scotty's Little Soldiers. Hundreds of bereaved military children aren’t getting the support they need but we are here to help. 

If you know a bereaved military child who could benefit from Scotty’s Little Soldiers support, visit our Get Support page for more information.


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