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"Daddy saved every one of their lives..." Remembering our Navy hero


On the 9th of September 2016, LNN Thomas Bovington died from an undiagnosed genetic heart condition. The 29-year-old Leading Naval Nurse and his wife, Vicky, had two children, Elizabeth and Isabelle, with whom he shared his passion for the outdoors. At the time of his death, Elizabeth was two years old. Isabelle was almost one.

Here, Vicky, Elizabeth (10) and Isabelle (8) share what life is like without their hero, how the girls feel growing up without him, and how Scotty's Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved British Forces children and young people, has supported the children for as long as they can remember.

Isabelle and Elizabeth holding photos of their dad

“Daddy can’t eat his birthday cake, so we eat it for him!”

“Tom loved the outdoors and we were always trying to get out and about in the Lake District,” says Vicky. “He was a kayaker, a climber, a hiker, all of it. He loved mountain climbing and really wanted to start bringing the girls along with him when they were a bit older. Even though he’s not with us, we’ll still go paddle boarding down in the river, and mine and Tom’s university friends will come down and take the girls out climbing with them. It’s what he wanted for them and a really nice way to remember him while doing some fun.” 

Both the girls love hearing stories about their dad and are eager to share them with other people. 

Tom holding Elizabeth

“When I was really young and Isabelle was really young I had a toy pram and I asked daddy if he could put Isabelle in it and wheel her around,” says Elizabeth. “I thought if I asked Mummy she might say no, but if I ask Daddy he will say yes, and he did!” 

Isabelle says: “One of my favourite stories is how when I was little I could climb before I could walk and Daddy would say “that's my girl” because he was a climber like me. We still remember him by doing lots of climbing and we’ll go to places we went when he was still alive. We’ve even the visited the bit of the Lake District where Daddy proposed to Mummy. Sometimes on Daddy’s birthday, we’ll go to the fireworks. I used to think the fireworks were meant for his birthday. I know now that they’re because of fireworks night, they still help us remember and think about him. We also have a big birthday cake. He can’t eat it, though, so we always eat it for him!”

Tom and Elizabeth camping

Remembering a true hero

Both the girls love learning as much as they can about their dad, and his role as a nurse in the Royal Navy is something that fills them both with pride. 

“It makes me very proud to know that daddy’s job was helping people,” says Elizabeth. “I can’t remember him as I was so little, but it makes me feel happy when I learn more about him. We’ll sometimes sit together and Mum will tell us stories about him and we’ll look over old pictures together. I’m lucky because we can also speak to our grandparents about him, and we know lots and lots of his friends who can tell us all about him. Talking about him makes me very happy, but sometimes a bit sad. I know that his memory will never die as long as we keep talking about him.” 

Baby Elizabeth wearing Tom's beret

It’s not just Tom’s naval career that was defined by helping others. Even after his death, he has continued to save the lives of those closest to him. 

“After daddy died, doctors started investigating the rest of our family and found out grandad had the same heart problem, so they put a little tiny robot called a defibrillator in his heart to make him better. So now grandad is a bit like a cyborg, but without any weapons or anything. And the doctors also found out that more of our family have the same problem, so Daddy has saved every one of their lives.”

Tom holding baby Isabelle

“Since joining Scotty’s, we’ve never looked back”

“When I first heard of Scotty’s, I wasn't sure if we were allowed to join because Tom wasn't out in Afghanistan or Iraq,” Vicky explains. “He wasn't killed in action. He wasn't even at work on the day he died. But I was able to speak directly to Nikki, the charity’s founder, and she explained that we absolutely could join because the girls’ dad served in the British Armed Forces, and passed on all the information that I needed to sign the girls up. Since then, we’ve never looked back.” 

Since joining Scotty’s in 2017, Elizabeth and Isabelle have taken part in a number of fun, community-focussed events with other bereaved military children who can relate to them and understand what they’re going through, as well as receiving support through family respite breaks, gifts and vouchers, educational grants and one-to-one bereavement support. 

Vicky sitting with her two girls

“Scotty’s support the girls in a lot of ways. They send lovely Christmas presents and birthday presents, plus vouchers when it's the anniversary of Tom's passing, which mean that I don't have to cook and we can all go out and we can just relax together. We go to the Winter Festival every year as well, which the girls absolutely love, and we've had the opportunity to go on some Scotty Breaks too. We normally go with friends or family who also knew Tom, so we use it as an opportunity to remember him, chat about him and share some of our favourite stories and the silly things he used to do with the girls. It’s a great chance to spend some quality time together and just think about him.”

Elizabeth holding her Scotty's birthday presents

Making friends who understand

"Scotty’s has been part of the girls’ lives for as long as they can remember. They really enjoy spending time with the other children and always have a really lovely time at the Winter Festival and other events they attend. It’s a great opportunity to smile and have a laugh with hundreds of other children who all understand each other. We always know Scotty’s are there if we need some help, some support or even just advice. The charity also offers grants for things like extracurricular activities, so thanks to Scotty’s support, Elizabeth is having harp lessons and she absolutely loves it. Being a single parent can be quite difficult to manage at times, and the girls having those opportunities that they wouldn’t otherwise have is brilliant.”

Elizabeth and Isabelle on a Scotty break

Isabelle’s favourite part of Scotty’s support is the events she gets to attend with other bereaved military children, just like her. 

She says: “Scotty’s supports us by helping us make new friends, meet new people, and also go to lots of special events like Remembrance. I was the youngest Scotty’s Member at the London Remembrance parade last year. I was on TV and in the newspaper, which was really exciting, but I also felt very nervous. I was okay with it though because I knew my mum was there and better a life with challenges than no life at all. What’s life without adventure and little bumps on the way?”

Isabelle wearing a bearskin cap at Remembrance

About Scotty’s Little Soldiers

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a 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. 

When a young person joins Scotty’s, they become a member and are supported until their 25th birthday. Whether it be one-to-one bereavement support, a respite break with the family, an opportunity to meet others in a similar situation, or access to extracurricular activities, Scotty’s is always there for its members to ensure they don’t feel alone.

Scotty’s currently support over 670 bereaved military children and young people and has a long-term goal to support over 1,000 children annually by 2030.

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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