Before you go, will you pledge your support for bereaved military children? It's FREE and takes less than a minute. Take the Scotty's Pledge today.

Take The Scotty's Pledge

Join thousands who have already pledged their support for bereaved military children.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.
We use CampaignMonitor as our marketing platform. By clicking ‘subscribe’, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to CampaignMonitor for processing.


My dad was killed in action. This is what Remembrance means to me.


14-year-old Ben O’Donnell was just a baby when his dad, WO2 Gary O'Donnell, was killed in action while on tour in Afghanistan. This Remembrance, Ben shares what remembering his dad means to him and how support from Scotty’s Little Soldiers continues to help him during this time of pain and pride.

Ben O'Donnell

Growing up without my dad

I never knew my dad. He served with the 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal Regiment, Royal Logistic Corps, and died on the 10th September 2008 while trying to disarm an IED in Helmand Province. I was nine weeks old.

I was too young at the time to have any memories of him, but with the help of my mum and older brother, I’ve learnt a lot about the kind of person he was and what he was interested in. I do find it hard living without a dad, but it helps when my family talk about him and Remembrance means a lot to me as it’s a chance to feel really proud of everything he achieved and remember him in the best way I can.

Ben's dad, WO2 Gary O'Donnell

Attending the London Remembrance Parade

Our family joined Scotty’s for the National Service of Remembrance in London last year with lots of other Scotty Members who all have a parent that has served and died, just like my dad. I felt really good walking the parade as it showed me there are lots of people in the world like me, who have all been affected by the death of their parent. Having events like Remembrance is so important as it helps everyone remember all the heroes we’ve lost. Not just my dad, but everyone who has put their lives on the line for our country.

I really enjoyed walking the parade with Scotty’s as not a lot of people know what I’ve been through, but everyone from Scotty’s has gone through a similar experience and understands what it feels like. Because of that, I found it really comforting that we could all pay our respects together.

Putting on my yellow and black Scotty’s scarf and attending the parade was really nice as I think it’s so moving to see thousands of people paying their respects.

Ben with Scotty's at the 2019 London Remembrance Parade

Remembering at school

Even though my school friends don’t really understand what Remembrance is like for me, they’re all really supportive and always try to cheer me up if I’m feeling down. We have assemblies in school about Remembrance Day and I think it’s important those continue as it’s such a significant event for so many, but unfortunately some people my age don’t always realise that.

When people my age think of Remembrance, they sometimes forget about all the people who are fighting and dying right now. People like my dad. Everyone thinks about big World Wars because that’s what we learn about in school, but there are people still out there risking their lives today.

Ben with two of his friends from Scotty's

Showing respect

When I’m walking around school during Remembrance, I’ve heard a few people say, ‘why do we still have Remembrance when World War I and World War II were ages ago?’ I stopped a few of them and said it’s because there are still people today fighting for our country and dying because of it. But, because it doesn’t affect them, they don’t care. I just think... you have all the other days of the year to mess around and do whatever you want. It's not even like it’s an entire day, it's only two minutes. There are so many people who this day means so much to. Just be respectful and think about all the people around you who may have lost someone.

Ben with Scotty's founder, Nikki

Wearing a poppy

Another way people can show their respect is by wearing a poppy. It makes me happy to see people wearing poppies because it means that they know what my dad and other soldiers have done to help us have better lives. The poppy is such a special symbol to remember our fallen heroes.

For me, the poppy also shows that just because a bad thing happened, it doesn’t mean there’s no good stuff to come after. It’s like saying to me on a bad day that tomorrow will be great. There was this horrible war, but because of it we were able to see this really pretty flower.

Ben wearing a poppy and his dad's medals with pride

Remembrance traditions

There’s a plaque for my dad in our town near the local church where we like to lay wreaths and poppies in memory of him. I think it’s so important that we keep marking Remembrance every year because we should never forget about all of the soldiers and everyone else who has put their lives on the line for our country. It’s like we’re thanking them.

WO2 Gary O'Donnell

What Scotty’s means to me

I’ve been part of Scotty’s since I was four years old and was one of the first kids to join the charity. Being part of Scotty’s helps me feel confident because I’m with lots of other people who have experienced the same thing as me. It reminds me that I’m not alone and helps me remember my dad. It’s like having a second family. A family where everyone knows and understands what we’ve all been through.

This year I’ve been sent a Remembrance pack which suggests some good ways to remember my dad, guidance on looking after myself over Remembrance, a special Remembrance colouring-in sheet, and even a voucher for my family spend on a Remembrance meal.

I’ve made some great friends at Scotty’s and I never have to explain what happened to my dad, because they already know. It makes everything so much easier and means we can just concentrate on having fun together and supporting one another.

Ben at Remembrance with lots of Scotty Members

Supporting bereaved military children

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.

Services offered to Scotty’s members 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.

Ben holding a photo of his dad

How you can help

We use cookies for marketing analytics