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Remembering my military dad who was killed in action


14-year-old bereaved military child Lennon Palin was just one when his dad, Cpl Mark Palin, was killed in action while serving in Afghanistan. His younger sister, Ruby, had not yet been born at the time he died and never got to meet her dad. Here, Lennon shares how he likes to remember his dad and how support from Scotty's Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved British Forces children, continues to help him during emotional and challenging times.

Lennon Palin by the Cenotaph

Remembering my soldier dad

When people see me, they’ll sometimes say I remind them of my dad or that we look similar. Sometimes people even say I’m like a younger version of him. I’ve been told we have similar personalities, which I like, and we also support the same football teams – Argyle, our local team, and Tottenham Hotspurs. I always like being told I’m like my dad, especially by family members. I like to think that me being similar to dad helps them feel like he’s still around in some way. 

I think about my dad every day in one way or another, especially over November. Obviously there’s Remembrance, but then it’s his birthday the day afterwards, and it’s my sister Ruby’s birthday the week before. It can be really tough for her, especially since Dad died before she was born and she never got to know him. I like to spend that time thinking about him as much as possible.

Lennon and his sister Ruby at Horseguards

Staying connected to my dad

One year, Tottenham Hotspurs were playing in Madrid and dad and some of his friends really wanted to go. They wanted to do it as cheaply as possible though, so instead of getting a straight flight they ended up going from Bristol to Benidorm, then getting random flights and trains before finally arriving in Madrid. It took way longer that it needed to, but they got there in the end. I really like that story because I think I would do the same thing! 

Part of the reason I love football is because it helps me feel connected to Dad, and I know that if he was still here, he’d love to take me to see games with him. I also like looking at old pictures and listening to mum and the rest of our family tell me stories about him.

Lennon and his dad wearing matching football tops

Meeting other bereaved military children

I reckon my favourite Scotty’s event was the 2019 Christmas party when we went on a big London treasure hunt. They’re all good, but I really liked that one. My other favourite was the 2021 Christmas party in Manchester, at the Concorde Centre. It was right next to the airport and it was really cool to watch the planes land then turn around and see an actual Concorde right behind me.   

I think the Christmas parties are my favourite thing Scotty’s does. I always look forward to everyone getting together and just having lots of fun with people who totally get each other.

Lennon and Ruby at Scotty's 2019 Christmas party

Being part of a supportive military community

I feel special to be a part of Scotty’s because I know I’m part of a charity that cares about me and care about what happened to me. It’s made a massive difference to my whole family as it really helps to know so many other people have gone through the same thing as us. 

Scotty’s are always there to talk if you need it, but they don’t push you to talk if you don’t want to. They listen to your ideas and give ideas back. Everyone treats you seriously and with respect. I’ve made loads of friends, too. It’s like an extended family, in a way.

The Palin family at the opening of a Scotty lodge with the charity's founder, Nikki

What does Remembrance mean to a bereaved military child?

Remembrance makes me feel happy. I like knowing everyone is thinking about the same thing at the same time, and that one of the people they’re thinking about is my dad. 

Going to military events like Remembrance definitely helps me feel more connected to my dad. It’s always just a really supportive, safe environment and there’s always someone to talk to who understands where you’re coming from. There are normally people there who also have gone through the death of someone they loved, so I never feel like I’m on my own.

Lennon and Ruby with Scotty's founder, Nikki, and other Scotty members

Paying respects to our military hero

On Remembrance we normally like to visit dad’s grave, put flowers down and take a bit of time to remember him. It's his birthday on the 12th of November, so those couple of days can be difficult, but at the same time I like knowing he’s being thought of. 

We have a Remembrance ceremony at school every year, where we take part in a two-minute silence and lay a wreath. I find it quite peaceful and it helps me think about everyone who has died and everyone else who has lost a parent that served in the military, like me. 

Everyone is normally really respectful and it’s a special time for lots of people, not just me. I’ve told some of my friends that I’m a member of Scotty’s and they all understand why Remembrance is so important to me.

Cpl Mark Palin

Supporting bereaved military children

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 members and 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.

Lennon at Ruby enjoying a Scotty break at Butlins


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