When Brooke Scott started High School, she discovered a spooky connection to her dad who had died 11 years before…

2021-02-08

Brooke Scott is like any other 12 year old. She loves dancing, fitness, baking cakes and making fun videos on TikTok. But she isn’t the same as other children her age, because when she sees her friends with their dads, she feels a sense of sadness and loss, as Brooke’s dad, Corporal Lee Scott, was killed in Afghanistan in 2009, whilst serving his country. Brooke was just seven months old, so she has no memories of her dad.

Brooke’s mum, Nikki, saw the devastating impact Lee’s death had on Brooke and her older brother Kai, so she set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers, a charity dedicated to supporting bereaved Forces children and young people. Being a member of Scotty’s has been a huge comfort to Brooke, but she has still grown-up grieving for the dad she never knew and longing to know more about him.

Starting High School is a momentous time of anyone’s life. So, when Brooke joined Thomas Clarkson Academy in Wisbech last September, she was full of nerves, particularly as it was during a time of uncertainty due to the Coronavirus pandemic. But as a mixture of excitement and nerves kept Brooke awake the night before her first day in Year 7, she had no idea that starting High School would take her a step closer to her dad…

Brooke and Mr Siracusano

BROOKE’S STORY

I find it really difficult having no memories of my dad. I struggle at different times, but birthdays and Christmases are particularly hard. Because I was only seven months old when Daddy died, I didn’t spend a single birthday with him and he never saw my first steps. At least we had one Christmas together and we had one family holiday, so I love looking back over the pictures.

Brooke Scott

Sometimes when I lay in bed at night, when everything is still and quiet, I think about my dad. The night before I started High School, I was laying there feeling excited and nervous and it suddenly hit me that my dad wasn’t going to be there for this. It made me feel sad, but I wanted to make him proud.

Luckily, it didn’t take me long to settle into my new school and I was enjoying my lessons. When I had my first Science lesson the teacher, Mr Siracusano, made a point of introducing himself to the class and he told us that he used to be in the Army and served with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment. My dad had also been in the Army and served with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, so I started wondering whether they had known each other. I put my hand up and when I said my dad was Lee Scott, Mr Siracusano looked like he had seen a ghost.

It turned out they did know each other, and Mr Siracusano had been quite shaken by my dad’s death back in 2009. From that point on, Mr Siracusano has looked out for me and supported me. Having him in my life means a lot to me, because my mum has told me lots of stories about my dad, but it’s so nice to hear some new stories and to feel a connection to the military and to my dad.

I’m lucky that I have a lot of support at home from my mum and my stepdad Joe, and I get lots of support through Scotty’s Little Soldiers, but now I get extra support at school as well.

When it was Remembrance, we had a special assembly which I was involved with and I wore my dad’s medals, which meant a lot. Mr Siracusano looked after me and made sure I was okay.

I’ve often thought I would like to follow in my dad’s footsteps and join the Army. My mum’s not keen on the idea, but Mr Siracusano says he thinks I would make a good Army Officer, and it’s nice to have that support.

I almost didn’t go to Thomas Clarkson Academy. There’s another school near my house, which I was going to go to, but something made me go for this school. Obviously if I’d gone to a different school, I wouldn’t have met Mr Siracusano, and I am so glad I did. It almost feels like it was meant to be, as if it was part of my life plan to meet him, to take me a step closer to my dad.

MR SIRACUSANO’S STORY

I’ll never forget hearing that Lee Scott had been killed whilst on tour in Afghanistan. At the time I was serving with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment as an Army Physical Corps Instructor and he was with the 2nd Royal Tank Regiment, so our paths had often crossed and we’d enjoyed many a drink together as we were from the same area.

Mr Siracusano

Up until that point, I had limited understanding of death in the military. I had been out in Afghanistan in 2005, but thankfully we didn’t lose anybody on that tour. I heard about lots of deaths, but I had always been removed. Scotty was the first person I actually knew who was killed in action, and I remember it hit me quite hard. The impact on me was profound.

I joined the Army in 2002 and served for 15 years. I left in 2017 because when we had our daughter I wanted more stability and control over my life. I decided to become a teacher, which is one of the best decisions I have made. My military background really helps to manage a classroom and instil routine and discipline, and these skills have enabled me to quickly progress from teacher to assistant Principal.

Last September, when I was teaching Science, I wanted to get to know the new Year 7s and for them to know me, so I told them about my previous Army experience. I remember Brooke’s hand going up and her saying that she thought I might have known her dad. I asked for his name and when she said Lee Scott I think I turned white. To be honest, I don’t remember much else, but I know I struggled to get the class back on track after that.

I’ve made it my mission to look out for Brooke. Children who have experienced the death of a parent need extra care, and I will watch over Brooke. My daughter is seven and I often think about how different her life would be if I had been killed. If the roles were reversed, I’d want someone to look out for her.

I think it’s incredible that Brooke’s mum, Nikki, has set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers to support bereaved Forces young people. In fact, the charity has something called Overwatch, which people can subscribe to as a way of showing their support, and the title ‘Overwatch’ suits my position in Brooke’s life perfectly.

As well as supporting Brooke, I want to help other children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served, so I am taking on a press-up challenge on 12th February. All money raised will go to Scotty’s Little Soldiers, and I hope it also encourages young people to stay active, which is so important for physical and mental health.

I feel so privileged to be in Brooke’s life. I think it’s inevitable that she will join the Army and I can see her as an Army Officer. She has all the qualities of someone I feel should lead the Army. I’d like that to be the legacy of her dad. I don’t want her to be defined by his death but I hope he will be a guiding light for her, leading her to great things.

Mr Siracusano is doing a press-up challenge on Friday 12th February. He will spend the length of the school day, 6.5 hours, doing 6 press-ups per minute, with no break, meaning he is aiming to do 2340 press-ups in total.

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