Hero of the month…WO2 Nathan Hunt 1979 - 2018
Once a year in November the whole world comes together to remember our fallen heroes, however at Scotty’s Little Soldiers we know that for our families Remembrance Day is every day.
Every one of our members has experienced the death a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, and we believe their lives and sacrifice should always be remembered. In our hero of the month posts we celebrate the lives of our members’ fallen heroes every month of the year.
This month we honour WO2 Nathan Hunt, a married father of one, who took his own life in January 2018 after suffering with depression and other mental health conditions. He left behind his wife, Lainey and daughter, Megan, who was nine years old at the time.
WO2 Hunt was 39 when he died. He joined the army at 16 years old, first joining the Corps of Engineers. Described by his wife, Lainey, as a “very hands-on soldier”, Nathan loved nothing more than being out in the field. In 2008 he served in Helmand Province in Afghanistan alongside Prince Harry after being attached to the Household Calvary and was part of a desert reconnaissance unit involved in identifying Taliban roadside bombs. He was later awarded a Mention in Dispatches for his courage in locating improvised explosive devices, which Lainey said was one his greatest achievements.
Lainey, who Nathan met during a posting in Germany in 2004, speaks highly of her husband’s commitment to the army, she said: “the safety of his men was his utmost importance in his role, he was a very calm and intelligent individual.”
It was in 2003, the year before Nathan and Lainey met, that Nathan was diagnosed with reoccurring depression and low moods. Lainey explains how Nathan battled these mental health conditions for 15 years before taking his own life as he felt he couldn’t control them anymore. She said: “For years he’d been battling depression and had tried to get help, but the mental health support just isn’t available. There were many nights when he said he just couldn’t sleep and when he was at his lowest, he’d say to me ‘when I feel this low, I just want to end it’.”
Lainey vividly remembers the day she heard of Nathan’s death. She was at the gym and received a call from her father-in-law telling her that Nathan had taken his own life. She describes the few days after as a complete “whirlwind”. “I was an emotional wreck, which is so unlike me”, she said.
Lainey went straight round to her parents to explain to them what had happened and remembers thinking she couldn’t quite believe the words coming out of her mouth, she explains: “I thought about Megan and how am I going to explain to a nine-year-old that her dad has killed himself?”
Lainey explains that she told Megan about her dad’s death in two parts. She said: “When I returned home from my parents, Megan was in her room playing. I called her downstairs and sat her down. I told her that daddy wasn’t very well and had died and was not coming home anymore, but I just couldn’t tell her why. She just went numb.”
She explained that Megan needed to absorb the information first before she explained “suicide” to her. Lainey said: “It would have been too much for her to understand.” It was two months later, after Nathan’s military funeral, that Lainey explained to Megan how her daddy had died as by then there were several newspaper articles published on his death.
A loving family man, Nathan always put his daughter first. Lainey recalls one of her fondest memories of Nathan was when Megan was born. She said: “Nathan has never expressed so much pride in his reactions or emotions than when he held Megan for the first time. He was so proud and happy, declaring to family and friends that he had never felt such happiness in all his life.”
Nathan made no secret of the fact that Megan was his best achievement in life. Lainey added: “He absolutely doted on her and provided her with everything possible.”
For both Lainey and Megan, keeping Nathan’s memory alive is so important. Lainey explains how they talk about him all the time, including the funny things he did and how he’d react to things if he was here today. Megan also keeps photos of her dad in her bedroom to help keep his memory alive.
Family day trips and his company are what Lainey says she misses the most about her husband. She said: “We called ourselves ‘Team Hunt’. We will always be ‘Team Hunt’ but we miss a valuable member being with us in person. Megan misses sitting and having her ‘funny’ chats with her daddy. She sees other children with their dads at events, or on holidays, and misses hers.”
Lainey and Nathan were both serving in the army when they met in 2004. Former soldier, Lainey was also posted in Germany at the same time as Nathan and the pair instantly hit it off. They had Megan in 2008 and got married in 2009. Lainey said: “We decided to wait until Megan was almost walking to get married, we had a fantastic wedding ceremony in Lake Garda, and what made the day extra special was that it was the day Megan took her first steps, we were both so proud.”
At just nine-years-old when her dad died, Megan has remained a pillar of strength for Lainey. Megan joined Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2018 which has allowed her to become a part of a unique community- she has a group of friends that she has something in common with. Lainey said: “Thanks to Scotty’s, Megan understands that she isn’t alone. The charity has given her the reassurance that she has people and friends there to support her that won’t forget her.”
Scotty’s has also been a huge benefit to Lainey, she said: “Scotty’s has provided me the opportunity to make friends with a group of parents that understand and know what I am going through. When I struggle with emotions or need advice, I’ve got a circle of friends who can offer advice.”