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“I’m running a half-marathon to support bereaved military children just like me.”


Scotty member Steven Murphy was just three years old when his dad, LCpl John Murphy, a bomb disposal expert, died by suicide. On the 19th of May, Steven, now 21, is taking on the Great Bristol Run – a half-marathon – for Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity that has supported him since childhood.

He says: “Now that I'm older and going out into the world by myself, I wanted to give something back to Scotty’s. I want to help give kids just joining the charity all the same opportunities and experiences I was given. I want them to know they’re not alone.”

Steven Murphy

Training for my first ever half-marathon

Steven has been training for the 13.1-mile half-marathon since January, regularly running up to 10 miles to prepare himself for the event. 

“I really wanted to challenge myself this year. In 2020 and 2021, during lockdown, my mental health took a dip. It was only really at the end of last year, when I started running and doing more exercise, that I suddenly realised I felt so much better. I’m studying business management at university, which I love, but like most students I don’t have the healthiest lifestyle, and taking on the Great Bristol Run felt like a great way to improve my health while raising money for a cause that means a lot to me.” 

He continues: “It’s going to be the furthest I’ve ever run in one go. The training has been going well, but I recently sprained my foot by going for a run in shoes that weren’t meant for running. Because of that, I’ve had to lower my goal time slightly, but if I can do it in under 1 hour 45 then that would be incredible.”

Steven pictured with his godfather and dad's best friend, also called Steven

Following my dad’s footsteps

Steven credits his athleticism to his dad, LCpl John Murphy, who was also a keen runner, and regularly took part in competitions both at work and home.  

“I come from a family of runners. My mum has completed the London Marathon, and when my dad was alive he would go on massive runs all the time. I’ve even been told that he would enjoy a night out with his friends, then do a cross-country competition the next day, still not entirely sober. I think I’ve inherited those genes! I was never the sporty kid at school, but I could always give someone a run for their money, so to speak.”

Baby Steven being held by his dad

Growing up as a bereaved military child

LCpl John Murphy served in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps until his death on the 7th of January 2007. He was 33 years old.  

Steven has no memories of his dad, but the emotions he felt during and after his father’s death have stayed with him as he has grown up, shaping the young man he has become. 

“My dad was in a bomb defusal squad and went on operational tours a lot. We were living in Ballykelly in Northern Ireland when he died, then packed everything up and moved to Bristol to be closer to family."

John talking to baby Steven

He continues: “I didn’t realise it until a few years ago, but I think going through the death of my dad, moving country and then starting primary school all in the space of a few months had a really big effect on me, and has kind of shaped who I am. I did very well academically, but the social side of school never properly clicked into place for me. It’s only over the last few years I’ve started to see how everything that happened around that time impacted the way I thought and felt about my life and everything else growing up.  

“Since starting uni and doing a lot more exercise, I feel like I’ve changed so much, like I’ve finally started to overcome everything that happened to me. It was my 21st birthday the other day and I got loads of messages from people telling me how proud of me they were. It made me a bit emotional, to be honest.”

Steven sleeping through a family photo

Support for British Armed Forces children

Since joining Scotty’s in 2015, Steven and his younger sister, Emily, have benefitted from Scotty’s breaks, grants, group events and access to 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. Scotty's support has made such a difference that Steven's mum, Rachel, even raised money for the charity during her wedding.

“Scotty’s is a lifeline,” says Steven. “I’ve done all kinds of brilliant things with the charity, from attending the Christmas parties with loads of other bereaved military children to walking onto the pitch of Wembley Stadium before an England vs Belgium football game. My first ever Scotty memory was going to an ice rink in Covent Garden and meeting kids who had lost a military parent just like me, and it made me feel like, actually, I wasn’t alone. Thanks to Scotty’s, I always feel like I have someone looking out for me. I couldn’t be more grateful if I tried.”

Scotty's gazebo at Rachel's wedding
Photo: Bethany Wood

About Scotty’s

Scotty’s Little Soldiers is a military 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.    

Scotty’s currently supports over 670 bereaved children and young people. Services offered 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 bereaved military child who could benefit from Scotty’s Little Soldiers support, visit our Get Support page for more information.


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