“It’s like a comfort blanket around the children, with a group of people who have always got their back.”
Mum of Scotty members Molly, Emily, and Isabelle tells her story.
For mother of three, Sarah Ross, 1st July 2018 is one day she will never forget. The father of her three children, Sergeant Antony Reynolds, sadly took his own life. Their daughters, Molly, Emily, and Isabelle were just 14, seven and five years old at the time.
Since losing their dad, Molly, Emily, and Isabelle, now 16, 10 and eight years old, have found solace in the support network created by Scotty’s Little Soldiers. For Sarah, Scotty’s has not only provided her children with invaluable support, but also support she knows is there for her as well, if and when she needs it.
Here, Sarah talks about the impact of losing a parent so young, how it has affected her children and why the support provided by Scotty’s Little Soldiers has made such a difference to their lives.
Antony was like my best friend; we had separated a few years before he died but we got together when I was 17, he was 23. He absolutely worshipped the girls; he would do anything for them and was a completely devoted dad.
He was just 41 when he died. He had been in the Army for 20 years and had one year left, but sadly took his own life before completing his service. There was never any official diagnosis at his inquest, and I don’t think there’s one particular thing that we can say was responsible.
I was open and honest with Molly about his death, she knew straight away what had happened, she was 14 at the time so understood completely. We decided not to tell Emily and Isabelle, they were so young, and I couldn’t bring myself to tell them the truth, so I explained that daddy had died. But, about a year after Antony’s death, I decided they needed to know the truth, I didn’t want them finding out from anyone else other than me.
Emily and Isabelle’s school were incredible, and the head teacher and pastoral lead sat down with me when I told them. I was expecting them to ask lots of questions but neither of them did.
I really wanted to make sure the girls were supported, their schools had been amazing, but I wanted to make sure they would be ok. When I came across Scotty’s Little Soldiers, I was quite worried at first that, because Antony had taken his life, we weren’t entitled to the same level of support as families of people killed in action. However, I soon realised that every child, no matter what situation, is important to Scotty’s.
The girls joined the charity in 2018 and I can’t explain how much of a difference they have made. They have made so many new friends through the experiences provided by Scotty’s and I’m so grateful to them for turning something so horrible in their lives into something so positive.
We work a lot with Scotty’s Head of Support Bev Townsend, who has been integral in getting me and my girls through the last few years. Not only is she there at the other end of the phone if I have any issues, but she understands that my girls are all different, and what works for one doesn’t necessarily work for the other.
Knowing that I can just pick up the phone and speak to Bev is so comforting, whether it’s just something basic or if I’m struggling, she’s always there to offer advice. When it’s just you and the children, you can doubt yourself – but I can phone her about anything if the children are struggling or if I’m struggling.
Molly has had difficult times over the last few years, she often doesn’t like to talk about it but her way of dealing with it is to go out and do things for Scotty’s. That’s her way of keeping her dad’s memory alive. Most recently Bev has been there for Molly to help her through her exams and in speaking to her school about the difficulties she has been having.
The only way I can describe Scotty’s is, it’s like a comfort blanket around the children, with a group of people who have always got your back. Without the security blanket of Scotty’s behind them, they wouldn’t have had the confidence to be so resilient. And I’ll be forever grateful.