Forces widow completes marathon challenge in honour of her fallen husband and the charity that supports her children
“I wanted to give back to the charity that has done so much for my children”
Armed Forces widow and mother of three, Sarah Wilkinson, from the Isle of Wight, has achieved her goal of running a marathon in a month, while raising vital funds for a charity that has offered integral support to her children following the death of her husband almost 10 years ago.
Sarah’s husband and the father to two of her children, Fusilier James Wilkinson, was killed in a training accident in Kenya in 2011. He was just 21 years old when he died leaving behind two children, Connor, who was just two years old and Annabelle, who hadn’t been born. Sarah was six months pregnant when she was told the news every military wife dreads.
Since 2015, both Annabelle, now nine years old and Connor, now 12 years old have been supported by bereaved Armed Forces children’s charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The charity was set up in 2010 by war widow Nikki Scott and offers integral support to children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the Armed Forces.
Nikki saw the devastating impact the death of her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, in 2009 had on their two young children and wanted to help others in the same situation.
As a way of giving back for everything the charity has done for her over the last six years, Sarah decided to take part in the May Marathon challenge, a fundraising event organised by Scotty’s Little Soldiers, where participants set themselves the challenge of completing the marathon distance throughout May, while raising much needed funds.
Sarah (31), who has only recently started running, completed the challenge in just two weeks, raising over £500 in the process.
“It’s definitely been a challenge, but I’m so pleased that I’ve managed to complete it. Scotty’s have been amazing over the last six years and they do so much for Annabelle and Connor that I wanted to do something to give back. I grew up without a dad, so I know how hard it is for my children and lots of other military children who are growing up without one of their parents. Connor, who was so young when James died, has very few memories of his dad and is starting to process things differently as he gets older. Annabelle never knew her dad, James died before she was born, so she deals with things in a completely different way to Connor.”
Since joining Scotty’s in 2015, Connor and Annabelle have benefited from the charity’s support programmes, including respite breaks at a Scotty’s Lodge, and additional support at difficult times of the year. For Sarah, one of the hardest months of the year is November.
“November is such a hard month with it being Remembrance Day but also the anniversary of James’s death. The children find it difficult because of everything they are learning in school about Remembrance Day, so Scotty’s support at this time of year is so important and comforting for us.”
Scotty’s Little Soldiers is currently providing assistance to hundreds of bereaved Forces children and young people around the UK. The service offered include guidance to parents and carers, access to professional child bereavement support, 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.
“I can’t thank Sarah enough for supporting us and taking part in the May Marathon challenge. I know how hard the last 10 years have been for Annabelle and Connor, growing up without their dad by their side. I’m so proud that Scotty’s is here to support them and so many other children and young people like them who have also experienced the death of a parent who served.
“Funding raised through events such as this enables us to provide our members with support which is vital as they grow up. I’m always particularly blown away when our members and their families get involved with fundraising as it highlights what Scotty’s means to them and how much the support we provide is needed.”