For 27-year-old mum of two, Tammy Smith, telling her children that they would never see their daddy again was the hardest thing she’s ever had to do.
Husband and father, Gunner Kurt Smith, took his own life in May 2017, leaving behind two children, Gabriella (9) and Kaiden (5).
For Tammy and her children, the last 12 months has been an uphill struggle, but with the help and support of children’s Armed Forces charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the family are beginning to make new memories and learn to smile again.
“When Kurt died, we felt so alone” said Tammy. “It took me a few days after I was told about Kurt’s death to gain the strength to tell my children that their daddy had died because his head was poorly. The kids knew there was something wrong and Gabby asked me, ‘what’s wrong mummy?’ At that moment, I knew I had to tell them, I sat them both down and said, ‘daddy is up in the sky now. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.”
“It was such a big shock for them both. Gabby was uncontrollable, it was just a few weeks before Father’s Day which made it worse and it hit her really hard. She closed in to herself, they had such a close bond. With Kaiden being a lot younger it didn’t impact him in quite the same way.”
Tammy had heard about Scotty’s Little Soldiers from friends and got in touch with the founder Nikki Scott the next month. She said: “We felt so alone but talking to Nikki reassured me that everything was going to be ok and that they were there to help. Nikki recommended we come along to the Scotty’s summer BBQ. At first, I was really unsure but for me and the kids I’m so glad we did as I met many other mums who understood what I was going through.
Joining Scotty’s has been great for both Gabby and Kaiden, Gabby especially has become more excepting, she now understands that not everyone has a daddy and through Scotty’s has met other children her age who are in a similar position. She does ask questions and recently she’s been asking about who will walk her down the aisle when she gets married.
Kaiden is still very young, but definitely finds comfort in Scotty’s. When you join, each member receives a Welcome Pack that introduces you to Scotty and Scotty’s story. He now asks me to read it to him every night before he goes to bed.”
As well as the support network, Scotty’s provides its members and families with opportunities to go on holiday and visit one of their lodges for a much-needed break, vouchers on days when they need it the most and allowances and grants to help with members development and education.
Tammy said: “They do so much for us! The Scotty’s allowance has been really beneficial and helps a lot as I’m being mum and dad now so it’s very hard to pay for everything when you’re on your own. Both Gabby and Kaiden use the allowance, Kaiden is quite a hyperactive boy and loves his gymnastics and without the allowance he wouldn’t be able to do this.
The vouchers we receive on Remembrance Day also give us as a family opportunity to remember Kurt. Last year we received vouchers for Pizza Hut which was Kurt’s favourite restaurant and we took his photo with us and placed him at the table, we got him his favourite drink and talked about how he was the happiest, loveliest dad in the world. It’s moments like that, that as a family we treasure.
We’re also booked to visit the Scotty’s Lodge in Devon in August which will bring the family together, something we don’t get chance to do a lot.
We have so much to thank Scotty’s for and without them we’d be lost.”
If you know a child or young person who has lost a parent serving in the British Armed Forces find out how Scotty’s may be able to help them by clicking here.
If you would like to support the children of our fallen heroes you can donate to Scotty’s Little Soldiers by clicking here.