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Hero of the Month: CPL Mark Palin (1978-2011)


Cpl Mark Palin was a loving husband, football-mad dad, and dedicated soldier in The Rifles.

Mark joined the military straight out of school and loyally served his country for 18 years, during which time he conducted tours of Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the 18th of July 2011, Mark was killed in action in Afghanistan. He was 33 years old. His son, Lennon, was only one. His daughter, Ruby, was born four months after his death.

CPL Mark Palin

“Mark was very family orientated and a big part of everyone’s lives. He loved his family more than anything, and we all knew it,” says his wife, Carla. “His second biggest love was Tottenham Hotspur. He lived and breathed football and went to watch more than a few games in his time. He was just a really loyal, really funny guy who knew how to enjoy life.” 

Mark never got to meet his daughter Ruby, but it’s clear from the short time he was able to spend with Lennon that he was an incredible dad. 

“He totally doted on Lennon and loved going out and doing things as a family. Then when we found out I was pregnant with Ruby he was over the moon. He took to being a dad from the word go.”

Mark relaxing with his son, Lennon

Mark joined the Army aged 17 and continued to serve for the rest of his life. Being a soldier was all he had ever wanted to do. 

“His family told me how after he applied for the Army, he just spent every day laying on the sofa waiting for them to say yes so he could start. It was totally typical Mark.” 

During his time in The Rifles, Mark went on operational tours of Iraq and Afghanistan. 

“He absolutely loved his job. Being with his lads, going off around the world and instructing new recruits. They have a saying, ‘Army comes first,’ and it was true. He was totally dedicated to what he did. When he died, he had four years left in the military, but to be honest, after some time off I think he would have rejoined anyway. The Army was too big a part of who he was.”

Mark's daughter, Ruby, stood beside a message written for her dad

He may no longer be with them, but Carla sees Mark shine through in Lennon and Ruby every single day. 

“Lennon has inherited Mark’s sense of humour and has even started talking like him as he gets older, and I see flashes of him in Ruby’s face and the expressions she pulls all the time.” 

As Mark died when Lennon was a baby and before Ruby had been born, neither of them have any memories of him. Despite this, Carla helps the kids feel connected to their dad in lots of other ways. 

“We talk about Mark and visit his grave whenever we can. The kids are both teenagers now and off doing their own thing, but on special occasions, like his birthday or Remembrance, we always try to make sure everyone is together. We also have a cabinet in the office where we keep his Army things and personal belongings that got sent back to us.”

Lennon and Ruby Palin at Remembrance 2023

Last year, Mark’s birthday was particularly emotional for Carla and the children, as it coincided with Remembrance Sunday. 

“It actually impacted me a lot more than I expected it to. I think if we'd just been at home, I probably wouldn't have thought about it too much, but because we were also attending the Remembrance parade with Scotty’s, surrounded by people who knew us and knew it was Mark’s birthday, it really struck a chord. It was also the first time we’d been to Remembrance. It was a very emotional but really lovely time, and a great way to commemorate his birthday.”

Lennon and Ruby Palin pictured with a guard on Mark's birthday

Carla has shared lots of stories with the kids about their dad, and there’s one which Lennon and Ruby always enjoy listening to. 

“Tottenham were playing Real Madrid in Spain and Mark was completely set on going, but wanted to do it the cheapest way possible. So, rather than just getting a plane straight to Madrid from Bristol airport, he took the long way around and got there by plane, train and car over almost two days. Bristol to Madrid via Benidorm. That’s Mark in a nutshell! Lennon especially loves that story, as it’s exactly the kind of thing we can all see him doing one day, too.”

Lennon stood by a message to his dad

Since joining Scotty’s in 2015, Lennon and Ruby have benefitted from Scotty’s breaks, grants, group events and the option to access one-to-one bereavement support. Through these opportunities, they have been able to meet lots of bereaved military children who can understand and relate to what they’ve been through. 

“Keeping a military connection is important to both the kids, and Scotty’s helps them do that. Being able to do amazing things like go to the Christmas parties, have Scotty’s breaks and walk in the Remembrance parade and represent other bereaved military children is so great for them. It means that the kids can be part of something outside of their normal home life and know loads of people their own age they can speak to who totally get what they’ve been through.” 


The Palin family at one of Scotty's Devon Cliffs lodges


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