Army&You – Spring 2021

Page 1


Spring 2021

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}


Exploring the pros and cons of childminding

Living apart from your loved ones

Paw patrol The pet perspective on postings

LAKESIDE LUXURY: Win a two-night water’s edge break and host of other must-have prizes in our super spring giveaways



At Milton Abbey we believe school should be enjoyed, not just endured. Find out how we can make that happen for your child, in a Full Boarding environment that will keep them busy every day of the week. Our unique set of vocational and traditional courses, and our genuinely different approach to learning, set every learner on the path to success, whatever their starting point. Find out more at our Interactive Open Day on Saturday 20th March or talk to us now about the generous bursaries available for armed forces families, in addition to accepting the Continuity of Education Allowance. | 01258 881804 | 13-18 | Co-ed | Full Boarding



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{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

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DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 07376 604259

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Life on the road

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Posts generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

to army life (page 20) – and Duke, who writes his very own blog (page 70). Elsewhere, there’s guidance on what allowances are available when you move, news about the army’s new programme which is set to modernise how soldiers manage their careers, and we also take a look at the complexities of overseas postings for Foreign & Commonwealth families. And, if you’re busy plotting your staycation this summer, don’t forget to check out our fabulous giveaway for a two-night stay in the Lake District, as well as some other cracking prizes – pages 66-67. You can follow more stories from Army&You on all our social channels @ArmyandYou.

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When you look at the challenges that come with army life – finding a job, a new school, continuing healthcare etc – so many of them are related to one common theme, moving home. It affects pretty much every aspect of army life, so this spring’s Army&You is all about mobility. Accessing support for children with special educational needs and/or a disability can take time and effort and the mobile army lifestyle may further complicate matters. Our feature explores the key issues and what support is available – see pages 14-16. And with yet another move, finding childcare is often a priority. Our article (pages 37-41) details the progress being made in childcare provision for service families and best practice examples from nurseries who really understand forces life. We also delve into childminding as career option and discover how, for some, it can be a perfect fit for those frequent moves – page 53. If you’re living overseas, parenting children and young people from afar, is not without its challenges. We hear your experiences of making things work from far-flung locations. Pets are often as important as other family member’s needs when it comes to moving. So how can you make sure you get your furry, feathery or scaly friends from one location to another happily? We hear from pet owners (pages 18-19) as well as the pets themselves – including Pumba, a pig with a diva attitude



Thinking about


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To find out more Call 020 7463 9326 Email Visit With the help of SSAFA, Army medics Lisa and Sophie have been able to start a family of their own.

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in their stride: Taking things with sons Emma Holcroft Owen and Evan


follow us on Don't forget to agram and Facebook, Inst d more news an Twitter for lots ree th tails on page features – de



17 Surviving The Storm We survey the allowances available to aid military moves 28 The Visa Journey The complexities of living and working overseas 33 Irish Innovations Wheels are rolling on Aldergrove adaptations 34 A Roof Over Your Head Things to consider ahead of your move to civvy street 52 The Big Career Shake Up New programme aims to modernise army careers 63 Notes On Norway A flavour of forces family life by the fjords






Exploring the pros and cons of childminding

Living apart from your loved ones

Paw patrol

Parent carer forums

parent Belonging to a local helped Helen carer forum has has Merrick whose daughter She says: “We complex needs. with little live in a large county of service to no understanding

Managing overseas UK,

needs special educational further t for children with Accessing suppor effort. Army life may … can take time and le. Jill Misson reports and/or a disability but help is availab service complicate matters policy AGAI Dedicated

the For postings outside the website parents can view to read for each MOD school


06 Our Experts Find out what AFF’s team has been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... A welcome note from our chief executive 10 AFF In Action Discover the latest news affecting army families 66 Giveaways Win a waterside break in the heart of the Lake District 68 Book Club Young readers revel in eco-friendly marine tale 69 BlogSpot You share your experiences of army family life


Meet Monty, the nomadic hound whose military 'mum' is a veteran of 17 army moves and has some tips for those packing boxes (page 19).

The pet perspective on postings

assess whether EHC plan.

fatigue, “There is a sense of and at times frustration, anger pure desperation.”


All smiles: The Holcroft fam


or need If you’re struggling support, the some advice and are following organisations there to help:

health & Karen Ross is AFF’s specialist and additional needs via email at can be contacted or you pages at can view the advice

CEAS – email DCYP search CEAS at go

spring 2021 A

2021 14 Army&You spring



started her dog training Elizabeth Boyes in Concept Cadets, business, Canine gives advice to other Stafford and often learn on how to help dogs military spouses is essential for travel. to be calm, which Spaniel, Gwen, Gwen Posted pooch: “I have my own Cocker eight moves in her who has had at least you have to start lifetime. In my experience, environment, while the family stayed every new after their three cats from the basics in the ability their move from Sennelager my dog has lost in a hotel during I’ve often found to the UK. to recall for example.” with a especially we turned up to collect advance, “On the final day Planning in our goodbyes,” explains the cats and say nervous dog, is key. find two of you’re going to move “but we could only Kayleigh, “Decide on how outside using a cage and not allowed to go them. They were your pet, and if you’re to he’d never let them of it, now is the time and Sven was adamant your dog is afraid don’t – place booked and so little safe a it’s out. We had the ferry teach them that adds everywhere. week you’re moving,” time, but we searched leave it until the door take looked outside, the pet gets car sick, “Then, when we Elizabeth. “If your locked us and we were all journeys and gradually slammed behind them out on short build up the duration. normal as things keep “For small rodents, my pool noodles with as possible, I use stress very easily. critters small mouse as in rabbits should be Guinea pigs and with plenty of enrichment. suitable carriers destress to 72 hours to “Dogs can take up to allow them a settling so it’s a good idea on walks. taking them out in period before brain games and Stuffed Kongs, chews, your dog few ways to help scent work are a relax in their new

soldier partner ELLA Relf and her they’re one of openly admit that unashamedly call those couples who up with ‘baby’. We caught their hound their best to how they try their ‘mum’ to find out easy for him… make every move

had a spare key, so we out. Sven didn’t have the to help kick open to ask the neighbours and there heard a faint cry heavy fire door. I The stuck inside the sofa. was our cat, Pooie, door was £2,000!” bill for a replacement the having a feline in Kimberly also found expensive business. forces can be an fortune taking her She spent a small likely is East Africa, and beloved cat out to to bill when it’s time to face an even heftier

our most HE family pet. Arguably other than the kids precious cargo – to move home. So – when we have furry, sure you get your how can you make location friends from one feathery or scaly the securely, and with to another safely, them… stress for you and least amount of


THE BEST LAID PLANS... Kayleigh and

in Germany, During their time up a friendship with her family had built and he kindly looked Sven, who lived locally,

with Duke, our “We’ve moved twice cross Mastiff, and Rhodesian Ridgeback to tried different tactics both times we have make him feel comfortable. quarters in three different “Duke has lived one has had a garden with us and each –a be an utter nightmare which proved to wire fence does three-foot-high chicken a in! Nor does it keep not keep a big dog we found out when which out; one little which by a small terrier Duke was attacked

return to the UK. rabies and COVID-19 “Getting all vaccines, with the cat in hand test, plus the flight about £450,” Kimberly luggage, cost us and stressful as says. “It was complicated just as you are leaving everything dovetails

the country. to import her back “The rules are different a in the hold. I’m expecting as she has to go

my to draw blood from somehow managed the fence. So we’ve six stone dog through our garden is secure always made sure of moving in. within a few days

A comfy spot

way to keep Duke “We found the best to a new house was happy while we moved the no matter what state to make sure that, to sit had a comfy place house was in, Duke and watch the chaos. all the soul so we keep “He’s a sensitive a walk when he’s out on loud banging for of barks at the sound and, because he let metres away, we a squirrel’s fart 100 big know we have a our new neighbours the We assure them but harmless hound. down once he’s relaxed. barking will calm


bill of around £2,000.”


has MILITARY wife Lisa often with moved 17 times, and with her husband away tow. Her three children in the family grandfather started with just a removal business fact, she was horse and cart. In removal lorry. almost born in a led to the Her unique insight creation of her award-winning

stranger Liz Ellwood is no she received an with pets, but when posting to the unexpected overseas had to move her United States, she Bulford, friend’s house in chickens to her to take care of them. who stepped in distance but the “It was the shortest would moves. My top tip hardest of all our chickens regularly be to handle your day – it do it on moving before you try and

was chaos!” from Bulford to In another move dogs, it was tricky taking Uxbridge, Liz says and fish in one go: guinea pigs, rabbits s– in fish-travel-bag “With so many fish but there was such a thing who knew there jam on a warm summer’s is, an M25 traffic so stressful. day has never been beg, borrow or buy “My top tip is to bags from a pet proper fish transportation can leak. and freezer bags shop as ziplocks from Uxbridge to “Flying two dogs the the easiest of all Canada was probably moves so far.”

Help for step-by-step guide, her for Movers, so we asked how to move some top tips on with pets…

key – on l Preparation is asking moving day, consider to look after friends or family

dogs, Lisa with her Monty and Tilly

Duke’s kingdom

his bowl, bed or “We never change new have been in the blanket until we sure while and we make house for a little time. to go for off-lead we know where new he settles into a Sometimes I think we do!” home quicker than 70 on army life on page Read Duke’s take


on, it’s Family Accommodati to ensure your responsibility it’s free of any infestation. to the Any damage, including be made garden, needs to of any good. Keep proof treatment. cleaning or pesticide

isn’t possible, your pets. If this separate in try to keep pets water, a room with their box. beds, toys and litter team know Let the removal them. so they don’t disturb if you l Take breaks – plan have a long journey, feeding/ regular stops and drinking times.

quarter – l Leaving your you remember that when Service move out of your

be kept indoors at them to adjust.

– rules l Going overseas on where vary depending for you’re going. See vets will be guidance and your Make able to provide advice. for all the sure you allow time inoculations necessary checks, particularly and paperwork, in place now new rules are EU and for travelling to the after Brexit. Northern Ireland pet will no l Moving in – your settling into doubt need help will need to its new home. Cats

first to allo

– mak l New surroundings sure your pet’s microchip Join details are up-to-date. to g local Facebook groups on vets a recommendations local walks etc.

TRADING PLACES Help for Movers abroad

Cade Canine Concept canineconceptcade RSPCA

Amey ameydefenceservices.

Lounge cat: Pooie

spring 2021 Ar


2021 18 Army&You spring

the “Airports don’t faze and girls in the slightest is travelling with me son.” boring by compari


at school or further to opt for continuity Whatever your it is the decision and their children. For many in the army, s. Liz Ellwood, miles between parents bring additional challenge education that puts ces… from a distance can about their experien circumstances, parenting talking to families Canada, has been for the day. We get AFF regional lead relaxed and ready


based HE McCulloch family, it was their in Kenya, reported who asked to go daughter, Lauren, with as she was fed up to boarding school make new friends. always trying to how being overseas Mum, Kerry, explains they especially when has been stressful, and a cuddle. “I support emotional need guilt, but then I remind definitely get mum makes the best place. It myself they’re in with when you see them it so much easier hobbies and sport.” their friends enjoying

Keeping in touch

happy, them say a cheery goodbye.” usually me chasing all the news out and very settled, so it’s are 370 miles away Alun, whose children for a catch up.” loves the family Yorkshire, whose but in the same country, Whereas Jo, in North says “It keeps us connected hours’ drive away, WhatsApp group. children are eight the teenage emotional a disaster. and it comes without evening calls were that and emotional, and years we’ve learnt baggage! Over the “Everyone was tired is fearing the children parents, but silence it’s tougher on the I then wouldn’t sleep all’s it’s a sure sign that their pillows, despite golden and for us were sobbing into with they were playing well.” going matron telling me the family give house minutes after putting Others like the Marima friends happily five so after a long holiday, says. parents an update phone down,” she and breakfast after calls out for any new habits they know to look “We decided to try are getting along with it’s made. The children or concerns. “Without what a difference been journey would have this believe I them, Nelly. difficult,” says mum family

of formula in terms There’s no perfect out a you have to work communication, and you as a family, regardless pattern that suits urge to that overwhelming of time zones or text or call. respond to every adds: “Regular Army spouse Ruth school and my children communication with girls are I’m lucky that my is vitally important.

The Marima

ter The emotional rollercoas whilst your heart

face Putting on a brave for a you can’t be there is aching because is a common theme. special occasion know the heartache “Both children don’t


to the used to returning Ruth had become being she explains: “Not The Shaw family UK quite regularly, apart family and being able to reunite the the I feel like I’ve been for so long isn’t easy; wa was something I explains Ruth. “It one ‘on tour’.” family o The Branch that when his children when we moved concerned about SSgt Branch recalls the well.” just hours before but the process works arrived back in Canada a bit these dates and to COVID-19, it was borders closed due felt by parents missing did we have to become there,” admits SSgt only being “Not not shock: Quality over quantity of a generally one of the things but having both children Ruth reflects that teachers overnight Stuart Branch. with being holiday tim period of time came found it hard not enjoys most is precious with us for a long Ruth adds: “I’ve getting used to the opportun and concerts, but “Living abroad offers some teething problems; able to attend matches initially a of a diffe have been really themselves was an immersive experience cleaning up after other forces parents !” videos, which daughters’ my and disagreements photos opened It’s some culture. cause for happy to send UK shores by possibilities beyond definitely helps.” nt are away from new environment away the fear of Becoming independe When your children to consider overs can encourage children emotional support would now happily Parenting from afar home, they’ll need – packing such as friendship when the time at an earlier age university options to gain life skills manage life’s challenges physical for starters! stresses along with their own suitcases dynamics, exam her her children to tell It doesn’t end there as When Nelly asked and emotional changes. learned from being to university have to deal with Even heading off three things they’ve Someone else will things can contin and awkward they cited doing adults the challenges away from home, these tough situations to about other cultures can be tricky, t it may be difficult Application forms independently, learning conversations, but the day there be like rent gua not are practical things and time management. accept that you might or your have gained a accept an starts her period many landlords won’t She adds: “The children that your daughter for to Lindsay in will prepare them tough time trying address for parents. lot of life skills, which son is having a really even lucky as we really helped is that says: “We’ve been adulthood. What’s balance his hormones. rent guarante changed, their friendship who can provide when home has same.” ies option.” have stayed the everyone has this circles and school Pandemic practicalit nothing could a huge impact, For the Shaw family COVID-19 has had than host or c independent more questions managing UK and any being when have If you demonstrate especially Heathrow. “Airports from afar, do Distance has magnified about parenting being able to navigate nation regulations. many slightest and at AFF, we’ve seen faze the girls in the via don’t things and here your the effects on is boring by comparison,” travelling with me of you worried about health. children’s mental h accounts – each may not this automatic trigger cons. Note that so is over 15 occur. If your child be set up in perso and months years and nine Go to moneysavin haven’t under 20 and they to see what’s ava contact HMRC received theirs, Association 7010 – they Boarding School on 0044 191 203 k Necessities AFF’s overseas manager, NI number can help – won’t tell you your highlights You can now ord it post Esther Thomas, will over the phone but to help boxes online tha some key details NI numbers to you. the necessities a things run smoothly… Children are sent some treats and number dad National Insurance Bank of mum & age help girls norm the three Guardians & the automatically in For children under step. Shaving b 16th trusted friends great cash months before their of 18, a card is a highlighted similar idea so living The pandemic has can set birthday if they are alternative. You discreetly to sc parent is that relying on grandparents monitor in the UK and a spending limits and always a apps and onlin Benefit. and friends isn’t are two main claiming UK Child purchases. There could regular postca overseas viable option. You and cards However, if you’re options – prepaid for a qualified treats or birth of paying out bank consider and have opted that come with children’s for then and certified guardian receiving Child Benefit, UK peace of mind. The spring



has enabled where we live it families to more isolated army receive support.” through For families going Emma assessment for SEND, advice is to Holcroft says: “My There will be hang on in there. to give u days when you want the system and question why in the end y takes so long but will get there.” &

Support for parent child

2021 22 Army&You spring water’s edge break and LAKESIDE LUXURY: Win a two-night spring giveaways of other must-have prizes in our super

to work life. I’ve been able and with my local authority s to by inviting commissioner

to issue an

and and SEND School in the SEND policy At Wallop Primary report. Sexton school information Hampshire, Christine listed for role as Contact details are takes pride in her Needs “It’s a very the Special Educational SENDCO. She says: children and Disability Co-ordinator rewarding job seeing able to answer We (SENDCO) who’s overcome their barriers. a smooth to ensure questions and ensure assess all new joiners g support is put transition by communicatin that appropriate school. Partnership with the previous in place quickly. lead for and most Claire Scott is SEND with parents is crucial a “If says: advice on MOD Schools. She schools will give significant them support child has a more strategies to help need there home.” at special educational their child to go engage with may be a requirement Parents can also assessment of Educational through the MOD the local Special so that supportability overseas Needs and Disability plans into and Support the school can put Information Advice child arrives.” place before the Services (SENDIASS). who has Educational Psychology Families with a child support Forces Advisory Specialists SEND can join SSAFA’s in and Disability SENDCOs and teachers Additional Needs with is made MOD schools. Children Forum (FANDF) which towards all have SEND will work up of members who understand targets on an Individual lived experience, Service can help and Learning Plan. A the challenges of Children’s Assessment with accessing available has reserved for Need (SCAN) is The group, which support. complex e pupils with the most compiled a comprehensiv requiring families, and long-term needs guide for service Where a to inform specialist provision. conducts research on return to policy makers. SCAN is in place, discussions with will the UK a local authority

to be aware of army If you have any educational Ross says: the chain child, you specialist Karen 108 and to inform concerns about your HEN a posting is of fatigue, family’s “There is a sense to contact the of command of your are encouraged looming, there and at times Advisory frustration, anger circumstances. Children’s Education are numerous pure desperation.” move house, Service (CEAS). often a factor forms to fill in to Time pressure is Smyth says: Impact on families Team Leader Sue and transfer process can sons change schools as the assessment is made up Two of Emma Holcroft’s have a child “The CEAS team months. healthcare. If you with autism. and stretch over many were diagnosed needs are of experienced advisers army is with special educational Karen explains: “Parents who are says: “Although the officers She (SEND), educational healthcare and/or a disability they couldn’t reporting that once very supportive, much more qualified teachers. they are relocating can be my husband life professionals know always guarantee “We know how stressful not often and will challenging. moving they offer support to days off for appointments moved may be and can system. to Iraq, I When Emily’s family liaise with refer them into the when he was deployed Family service parents and refer because in 2020, their Service They should still authorities if felt scared and alone.” (SFA) had to schools and local Covenant Accommodation house has the Armed Forces Buying their own to meet needed.” that any undergo adaptations more stability. commitment states SEND Code of given the family needs. current The waiting additional NHS an have an her daughter’s time accrued on CEAS to Both children now autism, and Practice requires Her son, who has and Care list should be transferred statutory Education, Health a suitable contribute to any retained. special a position waited months for EHC attend relative an and to the (EHC) plan says: “I had assessment leading with a new school place. She When registering child and school. the local plan for a service ensure their to constantly chase “I’ve got an GP, parents should to support a Emma explains: I wouldn’t they may be able for continuing authority otherwise network and child is referred to retain their amazing support They provided family’s request and and won’t hear from them. treatment or assessment process is the boys are settled time each quarter until the a tutor for a limited not as a new referral.” be uprooted.” enough.” finalised. your soldier week, but it wasn’t It’s important for CEAS can also explain how and relevant jargon Struggles procedures with SEND terminology and Parents of children because may vary in the devolved often contact AFF for some nations or overseas. they have battled anywhere. @ArmyandYou time without getting needs Health & additional


Spring 2021

{for everyone with a soldier in their

says: “We are Chair Alan Bowie helping forces passionate about needs families with additional we can make and disabilities. If family, it has life easier for one been worth it.”


14 SEND And Receive Supporting children with additional needs 18 No Time To Paws How to safely transport your furry friends on posting 22 Parenting From Afar The challenges of family life overseas 37 Caring For Little Ones What to expect from your child's early years setting 53 Two Birds With One Stone Exploring the pros and cons of committing to childminding 58 Feeding My Army Bake Off's Beca showcases some forces favourites

when you “There will be days question why want to give up and long but in the the system takes so end you will get there.”

spring 2021 Army&You 05


Our experts

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out about their key pieces of work over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch.

What ’s the most common issue that you come across for mobile army families?

Anna Hutchinson – Education & Childcare Spring is here and the autumn term seems a long way off. But for those of you who know you’re relocating this summer, now’s the time to engage with the local authority for the area you're moving to. Find out how and when to apply for an ‘in-year transfer’. Each authority has its own process, and some schools will need you to apply to them directly. Once you understand the admissions criteria and the correct dates for putting in an application, you’ll be ready to apply as soon as you can. Having this information is one less thing to worry about when you're surrounded by boxes! If you need any help, email

Needing help with the school admissions process.

Jenna Richardson – Employment & Training Accessing student finance can be difficult for mobile military families but, for those from the Foreign & Commonwealth community, it can be even tougher. In November, I saw an increase in the number of students from families in our F&C community who were experiencing issues. Establishing settled status can be problematic if you’re not a UK citizen, and your visa status is key to ensuring you’re eligible to receive this funding. I’d urge anyone who wants to access student finance, but isn’t a UK citizen, to thoroughly research and check your eligibility before you commit to study. You can get further information at

Katherine Houlston – Foreign & Commonwealth This issue’s theme of mobility is very relevant for non-UK families. The article on page 28 highlights some of the ongoing problems faced when a non-UK family accompanies a soldier on an overseas assignment. Recent events have put a spotlight on the importance of families being able to return to the UK at short notice, and yet there continues to be a lack of guidance on how to apply for a visa whilst overseas for non-UK families and units supporting them. AFF is continuing to push for clarification on this issue to ensure that families are given the support they need. If you have any comments, email us –

Karen Ross – Health & Additional Needs NHS England and NHS Improvement, as part of its support to organisations during the COVID-19 pandemic, has provided the families federations with funding to undertake a short, focused study. It aims to look at the specific challenges faced by mobile serving forces families navigating the NHS when assigned. We hope the study will have a positive impact, enabling us to learn lessons from the impact of COVID-19, support the work of NHS England and NHS Improvement, and to produce recommendations for practitioners working with service families. Anglia Ruskin University is undertaking the study, which began in January. For more, see

Partners who are unable to secure jobs in line with their qualifications.

A lack of information on how to apply for a visa during overseas assignments.

Transferring between NHS waiting lists and continuity of healthcare provision.

Cat Calder – Housing The ability to access surplus Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in the UK for those in established long-term relationships is helping unmarried couples and families access subsidised accommodation. Whilst only applicable in the UK, AFF has been contacted by a few unmarried dual serving couples based overseas where one or both are already entitled to SFA and both are able to access MOD-provided support but are still unable to cohabit in SFA. I would love to hear from anyone who has experienced this. This will only impact a handful of people, so if you know of anyone affected, please ask them to email me –

Dirty SFA at move-in.

Claire Hallam – Money & Allowances During AFF’s ‘money months’ in January and February this year, we ran a survey looking at how easy it is to access financial information that’s unique to army-related issues affecting your finances. We’re now looking at the results to examine key areas where you’re struggling to get information, and how we can work to improve this. At the time of writing, new information has been released about changes to Local Overseas allowance (LOA), which will come into effect from July. Please see details on the AFF website and remember you can feedback your concerns to me at

06 Army&You spring 2021

Families having issues with allowances when moving.



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S WELL as providing direct support and advice to army families, we work hard to really understand the key issues that are affecting you. This is so that we can be an ever more effective voice when the army and the MOD are discussing longer-term plans to support service families in maintaining family life. One of the ways we do this is through our surveys and polls – this gives us a chance to make your lived experience real to those making decisions. So thank you to everyone who took part in our autumn Big Survey on the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), which is the long-term plan for housing for service families. We had more than 2,500 responses, and the report (available at was sent to key decision makers a few weeks ago.

Better comms

While many of you welcomed the idea of having more choice in how you live – like having support to live in your own

key element of the support structure, and over half of the respondents said that they would consider leaving the army if it wasn’t available (more on page 35). The high levels of mobility that many of us have to manage mean that having the guarantee of being provided with a house – while we sort out schools, childcare, new jobs, or continued healthcare for the third time in five years – is invaluable.

Unique issues

“We’ll continue to highlight the particular challenge that mobility brings for army families, and the support needed to maintain family life.” home or being able to rent privately – it was clear that you also felt that you didn’t have the information you needed to really understand those choices. We’ll continue to push for better communication that comes direct to you,

and which answers your concerns.

Patch perfect

The other message in the survey was that you hugely value the availability of Service Family Accommodation (SFA). It’s a

While all service families have much in common – and AFF works closely with colleagues in the Naval and RAF families federations – we’ll continue to highlight the particular challenge that mobility brings for army families, and the support needed to maintain family life. This edition of Army&You brings some of these issues around mobility to life, highlighting the challenges you face. We’d love you to continue to respond to our surveys, so do look out for them at and please don’t hesitate to get in touch – see page 3 for details. &

spring 2021 Army&You 09



REFUND REQUESTS During the first lockdown, AFF lost touch with those at UKVI who process the Immigration Health Surcharge (IHS) refund requests that we receive and they had begun to stack up. After much perseverance and many emails, however, we found a new contact who has looked through our tracker and refunded around £14,000 to families, and they’ve also introduced us to someone who can sort out the remainder. We’ve been instrumental in obtaining refunds of the IHS for F&C families ever since it came into effect in 2015. You should be exempt from the fee but unfortunately, if you don’t apply for a visa using the right form, you end up paying it. Many still enter the UK having used the wrong paperwork because there’s no link to the ‘armed forces’ form on the UKVI website. AFF is trying to resolve this with the Home Office, but in the meantime if you’ve paid the IHS, contact us via



STANDING BY TO SUPPORT YOU Whether you’re in a quarter or your own home, overseas or in the UK, AFF is now better placed to support you following the introduction of our virtual assistants. Real people, not robots are here to help you on our main number 01264 554004, and if you do leave a message out of hours, we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. We’ve also bolstered support in housing, education and health, with new assistants now helping our existing specialists. So, whatever your issue with any aspect of army life, get in touch. Call us or email – and find the latest information and our full list of specialists and regional contacts at #AFFteamwork



BREXIT – THE BIG PICTURE Now that the UK has left the European Union, keep an eye on AFF’s website for updates on any changes to rules and regulations when living or travelling overseas. Not all changes will affect service families as for some European postings, you may have protection under various Status of Forces Agreements and individual memorandums of understanding. So go to the Brexit pages at and check your individual circumstances against your local chain of command’s advice.

10 Army&You spring 2021

AFF’s additional needs support groups have been running virtually, with lots of families dropping in for a chat. Some of you have told us that you’ve felt isolated throughout the lockdowns, so the groups are a great way to meet others and hear from guest speakers. Sue Smyth, parent support officer at the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS), spoke with families, community development workers and other volunteers during January’s meeting, and this month, we’ll be hearing from the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS). Look out for future meetings via @The_AFF – hopefully it won’t be long until we can meet in person!

AFF’s foreign & commonwealth assistant, Sarah Drapper, is now Level 1 Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) qualified. This means that she can now provide qualified immigration advice to F&C families, alongside our specialist, Katherine Houlston. More than 60 per cent of candidates fail the test, so passing this first time was a huge achievement for Sarah. Our F&C team is here to help with any immigration issues, go to if you need support. #AFFteamwork

SHARING THE KNOWLEDGE Later in March, AFF is hosting a virtual study day for invited professionals and policy makers to focus on additional needs and/or disability. As this edition’s main feature (page 14) highlights, there are many issues which you may face as service families, particularly if you are moving frequently. We hope that the event will raise awareness of the resources available and consider how we can better support you. @ArmyandYou



UNIVERSITY UPGRADE After conversations with our employment & training specialist, Jenna Richardson, UCAS has added a whole new section to its 'students from a UK armed forces background’ page to include spouses and partners. Previously, it only offered advice to service children; so if you’re thinking of starting a course, check out its useful guidance, plus links to where to find further information –




If your employment has been affected by the pandemic and you’re busy job searching, don’t forget to register with Forces Families Jobs – the one-stop shop for jobs, training and employment information for forces families. The number of people registered has passed the 3,000 mark and the figure is growing daily. You’ll find a range of employers who’ve signed the Armed Forces Covenant, including supermarket giant Tesco, which is now listing hundreds of jobs on the site. More at

As a wheelchair user, army spouse Stephanie Quintrell recently contacted AFF additional needs specialist, Karen Ross, about the lack of dropped kerbs at Kendrew Barracks in Rutland. Karen explained the situation to DIO and they agreed to fund eight dropped kerbs around the camp. “Living behind the wire has meant I have more independence to move around in my power chair, however, the lack of dropped kerbs has meant that I have to use roads. As a mother of a young child, this was never a safe option,” says Stephanie. “I’m delighted that I can now safely move around the local community. Keeping my independence has been a top priority for me since becoming unwell. I can’t thank those who have helped me enough.” If you’re experiencing issues, contact Karen at #AFFsupport

F&C FACTS AFF has put together easy-to-follow factsheets to help unit welfare teams and others who are dealing with complex issues that Foreign & Commonwealth soldiers may face. They cover the minimum income requirement and rules around bringing children from previous relationships to the UK. The documents are available at

Space to bond. Set in 200 acres of beautiful countryside and just four miles from the breathtaking North Norfolk coast, a Gresham’s education gives your child all the time and space they need to develop into a confident, well-rounded individual. | Holt, Norfolk An independent boarding and day school for children aged 2-18.

spring 2021 Army&You 11

POPULAR PODCASTS Searching for an inspiring military-themed podcast? We found that the following – all available for download via your preferred app – are perfect partners for any downtime. The InDependent Spouse A series of fun, informative shows for all military spouses, partners and other halves by Jess Sands. The podcasts are born from a need to hear from the inspirational men and women who run successful businesses, whilst experiencing service life from the ‘home front’. R4S Hosted by Chris Keen and Heledd Kendrick. Find out how Recruit for Spouses helps military partners to find employment and revel in the stories of some incredible people. Their Story is on Their Chest A five-programme series charting the evolution of the medal from the Battle of Edgehill to the Second World War. Hosted by Harry Bucknall

FUND PROVIDES BUDGET TO GIVE CARERS A BREAK RCET: Scotland’s Armed Forces children’s charity has launched a fund to provide young carers from military families with the opportunity to access meaningful respite. Individuals can apply for up to £250 to spend on an item or activity of their choice. Their chosen treat can be enjoyed alone, with friends, with their cared-for person or another family member. To find out more about the R&R Young Carers Fund, head to

12 Army&You spring 2021

and presented by Mark Smith, The Antiques Roadshow’s arms and militaria expert. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity also runs a monthly podcast, General Talk, which can be found at The Resilience Sessions by The Drive Project Honest and inspiring conversations and stories of

overcoming extraordinary adversity. Brought to you by Blesma, The Resilience Sessions has been inspired by Making Generation R, a campaign which aims to create resilient people. Team Talk by BFBS Radio What’s family life really like when a parent is a serving member of the British armed forces? Charlie Fife and Jill

BUILDING YOUR FUTURE If you’re looking for a new challenge, career change or you’re unemployed, then Building Heroes could be just the thing for you. The charity specialises in helping service leavers, veterans and reservists retrain within the construction industry in association with various colleges around the country. And now, it’s opened up all its free courses to families of serving personnel too. You’ll learn carpentry and joinery; CSCS Test and health and safety; plumbing; brickwork; rendering; plasterboard; plastering; painting and decorating; Makita Be Safe and tiling. When complete, you’ll gain a City & Guilds level one diploma in Property Maintenance, Health & Safety and a CSCS card. Interested? Go to course to find out how to apply.

Misson find out by hearing from those that know. Give Us Time Service charity, Give Us Time, releases podcasts via YouTube that highlight the extraordinary stories of armed forces personnel and their families. Tell us about your favourite podcasts –

Constructive feedback: Army spouse, Claire Rigby thoroughly enjoyed the course



CENTENARY CELEBRATION FOR FORCES FAMILIES’ ‘EVER-PRESENT ALLY’ This year, NAAFI is celebrating 100 years of supporting the British armed forces and their families around the world. The company was officially formed by the government on 9 December 1920 to create a canteen and welfare service for the services. By the Second World War, there were 110,000 employees and around 10,000 outlets. NAAFI not only operated on war fronts, but also in armed forces communities in the UK. This included putting on shows for the troops, with big names like Spike Milligan working for its entertainments branch. Post-war NAAFI was scaled down and by 1947 there were 65,000 employees. During the 1950s and 1960s the company expanded its offer to include

secure hotels and holiday camps in places like Egypt so that military families could relax safely in their downtime. Until the 1990s, NAAFI operated large-scale distribution and warehousing locations across the globe, as well as a tea factory; bottling plants for soft

drinks, water and wine; bakeries and butchers. This meant high-quality, fresh produce was available for forces families wherever they were. Some may also remember when shopping overseas was more difficult and, as a result, NAAFI sold Marks & Spencer’s clothing, Clarks’ shoes, domestic appliances, electrical equipment and gifts. Today, NAAFI operates in Germany, Gibraltar, Brunei, the South Atlantic Islands, and on-board HM Ships. It’s still committed to ‘serving the services’ by providing a taste of home to forces families.

Former employee Sue Lowe has released a great new book - NAAFI By Land & Sea – which charts the company’s history from the 1890s to the present day. Sue says: “It developed from a single idea into a timeline of history using the stories, events, poems and anecdotes from the people who served the services.” Only 500 copies of the book, which was self-funded by the author, have been printed. Buy your copy via eBay or NAAFIByLandSea To mark the launch, Sue is giving away two fabulous commemorative NAAFI mugs – perfect for a brew – to A&Y readers. To enter, see details on page 3.


PREPARATION FOR UNIVERSITY A family run, independent internati tio onal co-educati tio onal college with full boarding faciliti tiees for 11-19 year olds. Brooke House offers academic programmes Brooke H o with a wide choice of subjects: an ideal use is s for Force etting • Key stage 3 s and offe children • GCSEs rs Forces special r • A levels ates. • A level retake programmes • University Foundation Programmes: Business, Law, Finance, Medicine, Engineering, Science, Architecture • Brooke House Football Academy Contact: Brooke House College, Market Harborough, Leicestershire, LE16 7AU, UK Telephone: +44(0)1858 462452 Email:

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spring 2021 Army&You 13


& D N E S E V I E C RE Accessing support for children with special educational needs and/or a disability can take time and effort. Army life may further complicate matters but help is available. Jill Misson reports…


HEN a posting is looming, there are numerous forms to fill in to move house, change schools and transfer healthcare. If you have a child with special educational needs and/or a disability (SEND), relocating can be much more challenging. When *Emily’s family moved in 2020, their Service Family Accommodation (SFA) had to undergo adaptations to meet her daughter’s additional needs. Her son, who has autism, waited months for a suitable school place. She says: “I had to constantly chase the local authority otherwise I wouldn’t hear from them. They provided a tutor for a limited time each week, but it wasn’t enough.”

*name changed


Parents of children with SEND often contact AFF because they have battled for some time without getting anywhere. Health & additional needs

14 Army&You spring 2021

specialist Karen Ross says: “There is a sense of fatigue, frustration, anger and at times pure desperation.” Time pressure is often a factor as the assessment process can stretch over many months. Karen explains: “Parents are reporting that once healthcare professionals know they are moving they will often not refer them into the system. They should still refer because the Armed Forces Covenant commitment states that any time accrued on an NHS waiting list should be transferred and the relative position retained. When registering with a new GP, parents should ensure their child is referred for continuing treatment or assessment and not as a new referral.” It’s important for your soldier

to be aware of army policy AGAI 108 and to inform the chain of command of your family’s circumstances.

Impact on families

Two of Emma Holcroft’s sons were diagnosed with autism. She says: “Although the army is very supportive, they couldn’t always guarantee my husband days off for appointments and when he was deployed to Iraq, I felt scared and alone.” Buying their own house has given the family more stability. Both children now have an Education, Health and Care (EHC) plan and attend a special school. Emma explains: “I’ve got an amazing support network and the boys are settled and won’t be uprooted.”

“There is a sense of fatigue, frustration, anger and at times pure desperation.”

Dedicated service

If you have any educational concerns about your child, you are encouraged to contact the Children’s Education Advisory Service (CEAS). Team Leader Sue Smyth says: “The CEAS team is made up of experienced advisers and educational officers who are qualified teachers. “We know how stressful life may be and can offer support to service parents and liaise with schools and local authorities if needed.” The current SEND Code of Practice requires CEAS to contribute to any statutory assessment leading to an EHC plan for a service child and they may be able to support a family’s request to retain their quarter until the process is finalised. CEAS can also explain relevant jargon and how terminology and procedures may vary in the devolved nations or overseas. @ArmyandYou

Taking things in their stride: Emma Holcroft with sons Owen and Evan

“There will be days when you want to give up and question why the system takes so long but in the end you will get there.” Chair Alan Bowie says: “We are passionate about helping forces families with additional needs and disabilities. If we can make life easier for one family, it has been worth it.”

Parent carer forums

Belonging to a local parent carer forum has helped Helen Merrick whose daughter has complex needs. She says: “We live in a large county with little to no understanding of service

life. I’ve been able to work with my local authority and by inviting commissioners to where we live it has enabled more isolated army families to receive support.” For families going through assessment for SEND, Emma Holcroft says: “My advice is to hang on in there. There will be days when you want to give up and question why the system takes so long but in the end you will get there.” & All smiles: The Holcroft family

Managing overseas

For postings outside the UK, parents can view the website for each MOD school to read the SEND policy and SEND school information report. Contact details are listed for the Special Educational Needs and Disability Co-ordinator (SENDCO) who’s able to answer questions and ensure a smooth transition by communicating with the previous school. Claire Scott is SEND lead for MOD Schools. She says: “If a child has a more significant special educational need there may be a requirement to go through the MOD assessment of supportability overseas so that the school can put plans into place before the child arrives.” Educational Psychology Advisory Specialists support SENDCOs and teachers in MOD schools. Children with SEND will work towards targets on an Individual Learning Plan. A Service Children’s Assessment of Need (SCAN) is reserved for pupils with the most complex and long-term needs requiring specialist provision. Where a SCAN is in place, on return to the UK a local authority will

assess whether to issue an EHC plan.

Support for parent and child

At Wallop Primary School in Hampshire, Christine Sexton takes pride in her role as SENDCO. She says: “It’s a very rewarding job seeing children overcome their barriers. We assess all new joiners to ensure that appropriate support is put in place quickly. Partnership with parents is crucial and most schools will give advice on strategies to help them support their child at home.” Parents can also engage with the local Special Educational Needs and Disability Information Advice and Support Services (SENDIASS). Families with a child who has SEND can join SSAFA’s Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) which is made up of members who all have lived experience, understand the challenges and can help with accessing available support. The group, which has compiled a comprehensive guide for service families, conducts research to inform discussions with policy makers.

USEFUL LINKS If you’re struggling or need some advice and support, the following organisations are there to help: Karen Ross is AFF’s health & additional needs specialist and can be contacted via email at or you can view the advice pages at

CEAS – email or search CEAS at (sendiass tab) spring 2021 Army&You 15



F YOU have a child with a disability and/or additional needs, then SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity’s activity breaks for families might just be what your family needs. It’s an opportunity to spend quality time together, to try fun and exciting activities and to meet others in similar situations. The free break gives you a chance to get away from the home environment and to not have to think about daily life. You’ll get the chance to try activities together that challenge you, giving you the chance to achieve and build in confidence as a family. Peer to peer support plays a huge role as you meet others in similar situations.

Meeting the challenge

Last year, SSAFA ran its annual family break in October at the Calvert Trust Exmoor, despite COVID-19’s challenging circumstances. Due to social distancing measures, it could only take half of the centre’s capacity. Eight families attended and

16 Army&You spring 2021

spent the week trying activities such as rock climbing, abseiling and canoeing. A family member who attended says: “My husband and I worked all through the first lockdown with only a couple of days’ leave, and even then we were working in the evenings, so this break was very much needed. We all had a brilliant time trying new things and spending quality time together without the distraction of work and games consoles. The week really helped us to

recharge our batteries and make lots of memories together.” And for this year, the future is looking bright too thanks to some generous donations. SSAFA has two short breaks planned to run, one in the Lake District in August and the other in Devon in October.

Find out more

More details and opening dates for applications are available at



SURVIVING THE STORM The arrival of an assignment order usually sparks a whirlwind of activity – be it applying for housing and schools or simply researching a new area. There are, however, a range of allowances and expenses in place to help steer you through the storm of relocation. Claire Hallam, AFF money & allowances specialist, explores the details…

Disturbance Expense

This is paid for a qualifying move to assist with additional costs incurred such as mail redirection and costs of preparing for moveout etc. It’s based on the type of accommodation your soldier is going to occupy and whether it’s in the UK or overseas. The current UK rate for moving into Service Family Accommodation (SFA) or privately owned/rented on a qualifying move is £1,041. There’s also a child element to help with costs towards the purchase of new school uniform if they’re moving school due to a service move. Claims can be submitted 45 days before the expected move date but will only be paid 30 days prior to the move. Your soldier can claim using the JPA online self-service system. Top tip: Payments will be made via your soldier’s salary at the end of the month, so make sure you apply before that month’s pay run has gone in or you may find that you move before you get Disturbance Expense!


If you’re moving on assignment your solider may be eligible to claim subsistence costs when you move from one location to another. If eligible, there are different options available for overnight stays. You could either have a hotel arranged by the Defence Travel Hotel

current duty station and buy another house to live in within 50 miles of the new duty station. Alternatively, it can contribute towards the legal fees that arise on letting and repossession of a home.

FAM allowances

The Future Accommodation Model (FAM) pilot is currently taking place in Aldershot for the army. There may be different allowances/expenses options available as well as different eligibility criteria depending on your family’s circumstances. If you need more support, speak to your unit admin HR or visit the FAM section on the Discover My Benefits website.

Where can I find out more?

Designed by macrovector

Booking System or you can stay with friends or family and claim Private Arrangements Rate (PAR), currently £35 in each 24hour period. If you’re staying in a hotel, your soldier may also be able to claim back the cost towards your meals. You’ll need to pay food costs in advance and reclaim with receipts, so it’s worth factoring this in. If you’re struggling to pay in advance, do discuss it with the unit admin team. If you’re going overseas, you

may be able to get an advance of pay. Top tip: It’s important to check your eligibility with the unit admin HR.

Refund of legal expenses This payment contributes towards the legal expenses that occur when moving on assignment, helping existing homeowners to remain in the property market. For example, if you sell one home that you live in that’s within 50 miles of your

Above is a brief overview of allowances and expenses. If you need more guidance, do contact me at or visit the money pages at All allowances are based on eligibility, so it’s important that your serving person speaks with their unit admin HR to check – they can also advise on the claims process. l Take a look at Discover My Benefits for further information on all MOD allowances – l The MOD has a useful booklet, a Guide to Expenses and Allowances for Service Personnel – l JSP 752 provides the full regulations on allowances – &

Army&You 17

ON THE MOVE? NO TIME TO PAWS T HE family pet. Arguably our most precious cargo – other than the kids – when we have to move home. So how can you make sure you get your furry, feathery or scaly friends from one location to another safely, securely, and with the least amount of stress for you and them…


Elizabeth Boyes started her dog training business, Canine Concept Cadets, in Stafford and often gives advice to other military spouses on how to help dogs learn to be calm, which is essential for travel. “I have my own Cocker Spaniel, Gwen, who has had at least eight moves in her lifetime. In my experience, you have to start from the basics in every new environment, I’ve often found my dog has lost the ability to recall for example.” Planning in advance, especially with a nervous dog, is key. “Decide on how you’re going to move your pet, and if you’re using a cage and your dog is afraid of it, now is the time to teach them that it’s a safe place – don’t leave it until the week you’re moving,” adds Elizabeth. “If your pet gets car sick, take them out on short journeys and gradually build up the duration. “For small rodents, keep things as normal as possible, I use pool noodles with my mouse as small critters stress very easily. Guinea pigs and rabbits should be in suitable carriers with plenty of enrichment. “Dogs can take up to 72 hours to destress so it’s a good idea to allow them a settling in period before taking them out on walks. Stuffed Kongs, chews, brain games and scent work are a few ways to help your dog relax in their new surroundings.”

Posted pooch: Gwen

after their three cats while the family stayed in a hotel during their move from Sennelager to the UK. “On the final day we turned up to collect the cats and say our goodbyes,” explains Kayleigh, “but we could only find two of them. They were not allowed to go outside and Sven was adamant he’d never let them out. We had the ferry booked and so little time, but we searched everywhere. “Then, when we looked outside, the door slammed behind us and we were all locked


During their time in Germany, Kayleigh and her family had built up a friendship with Sven, who lived locally, and he kindly looked

out. Sven didn’t have a spare key, so we had to ask the neighbours to help kick open the heavy fire door. I heard a faint cry and there was our cat, Pooie, stuck inside the sofa. The bill for a replacement door was £2,000!” Kimberly also found having a feline in the forces can be an expensive business. She spent a small fortune taking her beloved cat out to East Africa, and is likely to face an even heftier bill when it’s time to return to the UK. “Getting all vaccines, rabies and COVID-19 test, plus the flight with the cat in hand luggage, cost us about £450,” Kimberly says. “It was complicated and stressful as everything dovetails just as you are leaving the country. “The rules are different to import her back as she has to go in the hold. I’m expecting a bill of around £2,000.”


Liz Ellwood is no stranger to moving with pets, but when she received an unexpected overseas posting to the United States, she had to move her chickens to her friend’s house in Bulford, who stepped in to take care of them. “It was the shortest distance but the hardest of all our moves. My top tip would be to handle your chickens regularly before you try and do it on moving day – it was chaos!” In another move from Bulford to Uxbridge, Liz says it was tricky taking dogs, guinea pigs, rabbits and fish in one go: “With so many fish in fish-travel-bags – who knew there was such a thing – an M25 traffic jam on a warm summer’s day has never been so stressful. “My top tip is to beg, borrow or buy proper fish transportation bags from a pet shop as ziplocks and freezer bags can leak. “Flying two dogs from Uxbridge to Canada was probably the easiest of all the moves so far.”

Lounge cat: Pooie

18 Army&You spring 2021


BELLA AND THE HOUND B ELLA Relf and her soldier partner openly admit that they’re one of those couples who unashamedly call their hound their ‘baby’. We caught up with ‘mum’ to find out how they try their best to make every move easy for him… “We’ve moved twice with Duke, our Rhodesian Ridgeback cross Mastiff, and both times we have tried different tactics to make him feel comfortable. “Duke has lived in three different quarters with us and each one has had a garden which proved to be an utter nightmare – a three-foot-high chicken wire fence does not keep a big dog in! Nor does it keep a little one out; which we found out when Duke was attacked by a small terrier which

somehow managed to draw blood from my six stone dog through the fence. So we’ve always made sure our garden is secure within a few days of moving in.

A comfy spot

“We found the best way to keep Duke happy while we moved to a new house was to make sure that, no matter what state the house was in, Duke had a comfy place to sit and watch the chaos. “He’s a sensitive soul so we keep all the loud banging for when he’s out on a walk and, because he barks at the sound of a squirrel’s fart 100 metres away, we let our new neighbours know we have a big but harmless hound. We assure them the barking will calm down once he’s relaxed.

Duke’s kingdom

“We never change his bowl, bed or blanket until we have been in the new house for a little while and we make sure we know where to go for off-lead time. Sometimes I think he settles into a new home quicker than we do!” Read Duke’s take on army life on page 70

MASTER MOVER’S TRAVEL TIPS MILITARY wife Lisa has moved 17 times, often with her husband away and with three children in tow. Her grandfather started the family removal business with just a horse and cart. In fact, she was almost born in a removal lorry. Her unique insight led to the creation of her award-winning

step-by-step guide, Help for Movers, so we asked her for some top tips on how to move with pets…

l Preparation is key – on moving day, consider asking friends or family to look after your pets. If this isn’t possible, try to keep pets separate in a room with their water, beds, toys and litter box. Let the removal team know Lisa with her dogs, Monty and Tilly so they don’t disturb them.

Family Accommodation, it’s your responsibility to ensure it’s free of any infestation. Any damage, including to the garden, needs to be made good. Keep proof of any cleaning or pesticide treatment.

l Take breaks – if you have a long journey, plan regular stops and feeding/ drinking times.

l Going overseas – rules vary depending on where you’re going. See for guidance and your vets will be able to provide advice. Make sure you allow time for all the necessary checks, inoculations and paperwork, particularly now new rules are in place for travelling to the EU and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

l Leaving your quarter – remember that when you move out of your Service

l Moving in – your pet will no doubt need help settling into its new home. Cats will need to

be kept indoors at first to allow them to adjust. l New surroundings – make sure your pet’s microchip details are up-to-date. Join local Facebook groups to get recommendations on vets and local walks etc.

TRADING PLACES Help for Movers Canine Concept Cadets canineconceptcadets RSPCA Amey

spring 2021 Army&You 19

Meet Pumba – the ‘micro’ pig with a very BIG presence...


HEN army spouse Jane Johnson watched a documentary on micropigs, her serving husband Roger rubbished the idea of them getting one as a pet – as they don’t stay micro for long. But a seed was sewn and in 2011, he succumbed and bought Jane Pumba for Christmas. Now nine years old, the pig loves army life and is quite the local celebrity. We caught up with Roger to find out more.

the dropdown menu of the list of pets. You also need to register with DEFRA to keep a pig on your property, just in case there are any disease outbreaks in the local area.

Pumba’s postings

Having Pumba became slightly more complicated when the family were posted to Germany in 2014. “We had to export

“Since joining our family, Pumba has embraced her lifestyle as a ‘house-pig’ – she’s not a big fan of the rain,” explains Roger. “She used to sleep with us, but has broken the bed twice, so she now sleeps in the living room in a bespoke bed I made for her, duly dubbed ‘Pumba Palace’.” The Johnsons had to get permission from DIO for Pumba to live in their quarter. It’s a relatively straightforward process on the e1132 form, but funnily enough, pig doesn’t appear on

when Roger is away on exercise, ops or courses. She’s also enjoyed outings to local pubs, been camping and has made an appearance at family birthday parties and regimental events. “Pumba loves going for a walk when the mood takes her,” adds Roger. “She walks round the estate in Tidworth and at the time of writing, we’re due to move to Pirbright, so she’s looking forward to making new friends in the area. “Having Pumba is just like having a dog really – except that she weighs 28 stone and is incredibly strong. She sometimes has to be ‘gently encouraged’ to do what you want her to do. I’ve often found myself having a Mexican standoff with her at 2am in the middle of our estate because she wants to stay out exploring. “All in all, having a micropig is a lot of fun and we love Pumba to bits, but you do have to plan your life around them. You can’t just simply drop them off with a friendly neighbour. And be warned that ‘micro’ is a very loose term when it comes to pigs and you may have to adapt your lifestyle accordingly, or at least be prepared to get rid of the coffee table!” &


her as livestock and then import her from Germany whenever we came home on leave, and we needed a vet to certify her as fit to travel each time,” says Roger. “We purchased a horsebox to move her backwards and forwards, and she now has her own aluminium livestock trailer, complete with a mattress, comfy pillows and blankets.”

The whole hog

She’s a regular traveller from Tidworth to the Johnson’s own house in Colchester, where the rest of the family tend to stay

20 Army&You spring 2021


We are


as usual



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PARENTING FROM AFAR For many in the army, it is the decision to opt for continuity at school or further education that puts miles between parents and their children. Whatever your circumstances, parenting from a distance can bring additional challenges. Liz Ellwood, AFF regional lead Canada, has been talking to families about their experiences…


HE McCulloch family, based in Kenya, reported it was their daughter, Lauren, who asked to go to boarding school as she was fed up with always trying to make new friends. Mum, Kerry, explains how being overseas has been stressful, especially when they need emotional support and a cuddle. “I definitely get mum guilt, but then I remind myself they’re in the best place. It makes it so much easier when you see them with their friends enjoying hobbies and sport.”

Keeping in touch

There’s no perfect formula in terms of communication, and you have to work out a pattern that suits you as a family, regardless of time zones or that overwhelming urge to respond to every text or call. Army spouse Ruth adds: “Regular communication with school and my children is vitally important. I’m lucky that my girls are

22 Army&You spring 2021

very settled, so it’s usually me chasing them for a catch up.” Whereas Jo, in North Yorkshire, whose children are eight hours’ drive away, says evening calls were a disaster. “Everyone was tired and emotional, and I then wouldn’t sleep fearing the children were sobbing into their pillows, despite matron telling me they were playing with friends happily five minutes after putting the phone down,” she says. “We decided to try calls after breakfast and what a difference it’s made. The children are The Marima family

happy, relaxed and ready for the day. We get all the news out and say a cheery goodbye.” Alun, whose children are 370 miles away but in the same country, loves the family WhatsApp group. “It keeps us connected and it comes without the teenage emotional baggage! Over the years we’ve learnt that it’s tougher on the parents, but silence is golden and for us it’s a sure sign that all’s going well.” Others like the Marima family give house parents an update after a long holiday, so they know to look out for any new habits or concerns. “Without getting along with them, I believe this journey would have been difficult,” says mum Nelly.

The emotional rollercoaster

Putting on a brave face whilst your heart is aching because you can’t be there for a special occasion is a common theme. “Both children don’t know the heartache @ArmyandYou

“Airports don’t faze the girls in the slightest and travelling with me is boring by comparison.”

The Branch family

felt by parents missing these dates and generally not being there,” admits SSgt Stuart Branch. Ruth adds: “I’ve found it hard not being able to attend matches and concerts, but other forces parents have been really happy to send photos and videos, which definitely helps.” When your children are away from home, they’ll need emotional support to manage life’s challenges such as friendship dynamics, exam stresses along with physical and emotional changes. Someone else will have to deal with these tough situations and awkward conversations, but it may be difficult to accept that you might not be there the day that your daughter starts her period or your son is having a really tough time trying to balance his hormones.

Pandemic practicalities

COVID-19 has had a huge impact, especially when managing UK and host nation regulations. Distance has magnified things and here at AFF, we’ve seen many of you worried about the effects on your children’s mental health.

Ruth had become used to returning to the UK quite regularly, she explains: “Not being able to reunite the family and being apart for so long isn’t easy; I feel like I’ve been the one ‘on tour’.” SSgt Branch recalls that when his children arrived back in Canada just hours before the borders closed due to COVID-19, it was a bit of a shock: “Not only did we have to become teachers overnight but having both children with us for a long period of time came with some teething problems; getting used to cleaning up after themselves was initially a cause for some disagreements!”

Becoming independent

Parenting from afar can encourage children to gain life skills at an earlier age – packing their own suitcases for starters! When Nelly asked her children to tell her three things they’ve learned from being away from home, they cited doing things independently, learning about other cultures and time management. She adds: “The children have gained a lot of life skills, which will prepare them for adulthood. What’s really helped is that even when home has changed, their friendship circles and school have stayed the same.” For the Shaw family nothing could demonstrate being independent more than being able to navigate Heathrow. “Airports don’t faze the girls in the slightest and travelling with me is boring by comparison,”

NEED TO KNOW AFF’s overseas manager, Esther Thomas, highlights some key details to help things run smoothly…

Guardians & trusted friends

The pandemic has highlighted that relying on grandparents and friends isn’t always a viable option. You could consider paying for a qualified and certified guardian for peace of mind. The UK

Boarding School Association can help –

NI numbers

Children are sent a National Insurance number automatically in the three months before their 16th birthday if they are living in the UK and a parent is claiming UK Child Benefit. However, if you’re overseas and have opted out of receiving Child Benefit, then

The Shaw family

explains Ruth. “It was something I was concerned about when we moved overseas but the process works well.”

Quality over quantity

Ruth reflects that one of the things she enjoys most is precious holiday time: “Living abroad offers the opportunity for an immersive experience of a different culture. It’s opened my daughters’ eyes to possibilities beyond UK shores by taking away the fear of new environments. They would now happily consider overseas university options when the time comes.”

It doesn’t end there

Even heading off to university as young adults the challenges can continue. Application forms can be tricky, then there are practical things like rent guarantees as many landlords won’t accept an overseas address for parents. Lindsay in Germany says: “We’ve been lucky as we have family who can provide rent guarantees, but not everyone has this option.” If you have any questions or concerns about parenting from afar, do contact us via

this automatic trigger may not occur. If your child is over 15 years and nine months and under 20 and they haven’t received theirs, contact HMRC on 0044 191 203 7010 – they won’t tell you your NI number over the phone but will post it to you.

Bank of mum & dad

For children under the age of 18, a card is a great cash alternative. You can set spending limits and monitor purchases. There are two main options – prepaid and cards that come with children’s bank

accounts – each has pros and cons. Note that some can only be set up in person in the UK. Go to to see what’s available.

Necessities & treats

You can now order period boxes online that contain all the necessities along with some treats and advice to help girls normalise this big step. Shaving boxes follow a similar idea so you can send discreetly to school. Check out apps and online shops to send regular postcards, photos, treats or birthday cakes too. spring 2021 Army&You 23



Sue Baillie, Head of Queen Margaret’s, York, and Mike Oliver, Principal of Brooke House College, offer some reassuring words on the practicalities of parenting from a distance when considering boarding education...


HEN considering the prospect of boarding school it is easy to think about it as ‘sending your child away’ to school and somehow losing that important family connection in the process.

of that community are at the heart of everything they do and where they are cared for by staff who collectively have had hundreds of years of experience supporting teenagers – they are experts in their field.

Gone are the days when schools or parents

When they are not spending their weekends

considered this to be the best way to nurture and

immersed in high-adrenaline days out (think

educate children, but still there is a real place

climbing walls, trampolining or kayaking), or

for boarding. The close relationship between

enjoying some relaxed time in-house, knowing

parents, school and child is at the heart of a

they can get in touch with their parents wherever Sue Baillie (pictured right) is Head of Queen Margaret’s – a full boarding, flexible boarding and day school for girls aged 11-18 in the heart of North Yorkshire.

they might be posted in the world is reassuring for

always a friendly guiding hand and a wide range

knows them. No concern should be too small,

home around parents’ leave.

of activities to keep them occupied.

no need for reassurance too inconvenient and a

good boarding school and serves to reassure parents that they can still have an active role in their child’s development whilst they are away. Boarding schools are geared up to ensuring that children feel it is their second home, there is

It goes without saying that the right school for

students thanks to open and efficient channels of communication. Boarding schools can also offer the degree of flexibility every busy family needs, with weekly boarding options or facilitating trips Boarding builds friendships which last a

healthy respect for that sixth sense parents have,

lifetime and for teenagers, friendships are

your child should be one that has an open-door

even over Zoom, should form part of the support a

everything. Where better to forge those

policy for you to visit, a warm welcome from

school offers its families.

meaningful and supportive relationships than in a

the Head, and you will meet students who are

Being a teenager isn’t easy for young people, or

community with shared values, a shared sense of

clearly at ease with themselves and each other.

their parents! As children grow in independence,

fun, shared interests and shared responsibilities?

The school should have measures in place such

self-awareness and the increasing commitments

So often our students and alumnae talk about

as personal tutors who check in with their tutees

of study, they simultaneously believe they need

their strong, long-lasting friendships – we all

regularly and contact parents to share the good

their parents less whilst parents know they want

want our children to blossom in those meaningful

news as well as any concerns, plus dedicated

to guide even more. When we read about the rise

relationships which they carry with them

house staff who know the importance of good

of mental health issues, the levels of anxiety in

wherever their path in life takes them, after all we

relationships and build an atmosphere of

young people and the dangers of disengagement,

want our children to lead incredible lives where

acceptance and respect within their houses.

it is hard for parents not to fear the worst, even

they can be who they are. A supportive boarding

more so when they are away from their children.

environment will offer the opportunity for your

is essential, regardless of distance, and a

In these circumstances there is no better place

child to shape their own future whilst being

personalised approach enables parents to feel

than a boarding school where teenagers are

nurtured and encouraged every step of the way.

reassured that the school knows their child and

embraced by their community, where the values

Communication between parents and school

THE College is rightly proud of the

caring and supportive example

pastoral care given to its pupils

set by the staff is mirrored in the

as enshrined in our boarding

way students behave towards one

principles, writes Brooke House’s

another. They grow strongly in

Principal Mike Oliver.

self-assurance and self-esteem.

The Head of Boarding & Pastoral

Relationships are excellent

Care supervises all boarding

throughout the college, and its

matters in the school with his

cultural diversity is characterised

experienced team of resident

by harmonious and companionable

tutors ably assisting. The result is

co-existence. Students say that

a small, family feel to the school, which makes all those pupils

they are happy, safe and well looked The school has a policy of

they can. Special arrangements are

after, and they feel a strong sense of belonging.”

who are boarding, and many

not sending every pupil off to a

made for the half-term breaks with

miles from home, feel happy,

guardian or home for exeats of half-

trips out and organised events for

safe and comfortable. The school

term breaks. Each boarding house

those who remain at school.

is a member of the Boarding

is regarded as being a home-from-

School’s Association; the executive

home unit of accommodation. This

Inspectorate stated of the

House College are in the safest of

committee of which has our

has never been more so than during

college’s boarding provision: “The

hands and will thrive as individuals

Principal as the ISA representative

the COVID-19 pandemic over the

contribution of arrangements

as a consequence.

amongst its members.

past year. If pupils wish to stay,

for pastoral care is excellent. The

24 Army&You spring 2021

The Independent Schools

Parents can rest assured, and have full peace of mind, that the boys and girls boarding at Brooke


Sexey’s Established 1891

A Church of England, coeducational state boarding and day school for 11-18 year olds

Find out more about state boarding for service families at our top performing secondary school and sixth form: Bruton, Somerset

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spring 2021 Army&You 25




HEN you move around frequently and often at short notice, it can be tough settling in and making new friends, but the Military Wives Choirs (MWC) can provide that continuity with a ready-made group who just get it.


The choirs are completely musically inclusive, so there’s no need to read music and they all share the same core repertoire which means you can confidently walk into the rehearsal room knowing you’ll receive a warm welcome and can join in with some familiar songs! This is essential for mobility, meaning you can access the wellbeing benefits of singing in a choir, settle in and bond more quickly. This made a huge difference to Anne, currently a member of Sandhurst MWC but having previously sung with Nottingham, Lympstone, North London and two of the now closed German choirs, making Sandhurst Anne’s sixth MWC.

Anne (pictured below with her family) says: “Despite frequent postings I know the choirs will be a constant and an important anchor in my social life, providing me with a focus and stability. There will be songs I know and a chance to learn new ones!” Over the years, Anne has performed in many locations including 10 Downing Street (pictured right). “Frequently, I’ve arrived at a new posting not knowing anyone but safe in the knowledge that I’ll join the choir and develop new friendships. It works a treat every time,” adds Anne.


Being a part of the MWC network is so important to members like Ruth that on moving from Odiham to Halton, one of the first things she did was attend rehearsals. She says: “When we moved to our current base, I went to choir on the first night we moved in. I abandoned the boxes because getting to choir and meeting up with the other ladies is a huge part of my life.”

Find your stabilising influence

The Military Wives Choirs is a charity that brings all women in the military community, not just wives, closer together and empowers them through singing. With more than 70 choirs in British military bases across the UK and overseas, find your nearest choir and learn more about the charity at

“Frequently, I’ve arrived at a new posting not knowing anyone but safe in the knowledge that I’ll join the choir and develop new friendships.”

26 Army&You spring 2021


NURSING MUMS’ NETWORK LCpl Natasha Day had her son Charlie and returned to work in March last year, whilst exclusively breastfeeding. On moving to a new posting, she lost her supportive group of other breastfeeding mummy friends that she’d made during maternity leave. Here she explains how she’s gone about building a support network to help other women in the military community… “Returning to any workplace after maternity is extremely daunting. Chuck in the need to express breast milk, the mum guilt and the fear of how your new workplace will receive you is no fun running on four hours’ sleep,” says Natasha.

Inclusive and supportive

“I thought about the military families who don’t have support around them and that’s when I decided to create an online safe space for servicewomen to connect,” she explains. “I’ve set

Natasha and baby Charlie

“Every member shares ownership of the success of the group, which is one of the things that makes it so wonderful.” up the Defence Breastfeeding Network. It’s tri-service and also supports spouses and partners of serving personnel – as I know they also bear the brunt of what can be a very isolating lifestyle.” With some servicewomen feeling forced to stop breastfeeding due to work commitments, Natasha was keen for the group to be a safe space for all. “Members can post photos, ask advice and seek clarification

Gemma Griffiths and baby Robyn

on current policies without the formalities of rank. Every member shares ownership of the success of the group, which is one of the things that makes it so wonderful,” says Natasha. The network has been able to provide breastfeeding peer support training to its members, thanks to the charity Families and Babies, based in Lancashire. This is enabling members of the network to go on to safely support breastfeeding mothers locally, online and over helplines. “One of the most important things on a breastfeeding journey is the right education and support for the mother, which is why the network is so great,” says Natasha. “Many mums struggle to balance longer-term breastfeeding with service due to the need to go on career courses or deploy on exercise, but it’s absolutely do-able with the right support with many of

our members feeding until past the age of three.”

Feeling supported

Members of the support network agree. Hana Stewart says: “The network is incredible for those serving and spouses. I know from experience that breastfeeding support can be inconsistent, so having access to this is vital to help all who need it!” Maj Gemma Griffiths who has baby Robyn adds: “The network has helped me to make breastfeeding seem like a ‘normal’ and supported choice for women. “It’s not about breast versus bottle, it’s about making sure that every working mum gets to make a choice that’s right for her and her baby.”

Get involved

To find out more, search Defence Breastfeeding Network on Facebook. spring 2021 Army&You 27


THE VISA JOURNEY The opportunity to live overseas should be an exciting one but for some Foreign & Commonwealth families it can be a complex proposition. Here, our F&C specialist Katherine Houlston outlines the main processes to be aware of…

This depends on where you’re posted to. You should be given information by the receiving unit well in advance as, in some cases, you may need to apply to the embassy or high commission in the UK. If you have difficulties obtaining the information, contact AFF or the Regional Command non-UK caseworker at RC-Pers-FamSp-0Mailbox@

Does my time spent out of the UK count as residence? Yes, if you have a visa under armed forces immigration rules. This is why it’s very important that you check you have the correct visa before you leave the UK. If your visa was issued under a different rule, for example, an ancestry visa, contact us as soon as possible –

What happens if my visa is due to expire whilst I’m overseas? You need to apply for a new

28 Army&You spring 2021

one. Medical emergencies and recent evacuations due to the COVID-19 pandemic have all highlighted the importance for everyone to be able to return to the UK at short notice. If your visa expires overseas, it may affect your entitlement to status stamps, which in turn may affect your legal status in the home nation.

“Recent evacuations have highlighted the importance for everyone to be able to return to the UK at short notice.”

How do I apply for a visa whilst overseas? The UKVI online form doesn’t differentiate between someone applying to join a soldier for the first time and someone applying to extend on an overseas assignment. It’s therefore not an easy form to complete as it presumes you’re travelling to the UK. You’ll need to refer to the AFF website for details on how to complete it.

What will I apply for? Presuming you have a visa which was issued for five years, you should be eligible for indefinite leave. The problem is that one of the requirements for applying for indefinite leave is a Life in the UK test certificate, which is

Picture: Freepik

Do I need a visa to accompany my soldier on an overseas posting?

only available to take in the UK and Cyprus, so if you’re living elsewhere, you’d have to return to the UK to take the test or apply for an extension to your current limited leave.

Who will pay? The good news is that visas can be claimed at public expense whilst on an overseas assignment. Speak to your unit admin for details. However, it’s not currently clear whether indefinite leave (£2,389) would be paid for at public expense or just limited leave (£1,523). This can lead to units interpreting the rules in different ways.

Can I apply early if my visa is due to expire around the same time of a posting to the UK?

“The good news is that visas can be claimed at public expense whilst on an overseas assignment.”

Not if you’re applying for indefinite leave; the earliest you can apply is 28 days before the visa expires as there’s a requirement for you to have spent 60 months on that visa before you’re eligible. However, if you’re applying for a further period of limited leave then you can apply at any point for an extension. @ArmyandYou

What’s the latest on Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) issues? Once your visa application has been processed, you’ll be sent a ‘vignette’ in your visa which will be valid for 30 days. You’re expected to travel to the UK within that 30-day period to pick up your BRP from a UK post office. The Home Office won’t send a BRP to a BFPO address and it isn’t possible for someone in the UK to pick it up for you. AFF has raised this issue and we’re awaiting official guidance as to what action a spouse in this position is expected to take. Should you travel to the UK or let it expire, then apply for a new 30-day vignette nearer to your posting date? Who will pay for these additional expenses? We will continue to seek clarification on this issue but for now, you’ll need to ask your soldier to raise it with their unit.

Crown Service Citizenship applications One of the main benefits of being on an overseas assignment is the ability to apply for citizenship without having to follow the normal route – there’s no requirement to have ILR or in fact any visa to be eligible. However, other requirements need to be met so do read the information on the AFF website. You’ll need to have at least six months left overseas and it’s also still imperative that you don’t let your visa expire.

What is AFF doing to help families overseas? We have been working closely with the Naval and RAF families federations to raise these issues with the MOD, and also directly with the Home Office. We’ll continue to try to seek guidance and information. Head to for details.

Hemraj Gharti Magar, currently in Brunei, contacted us in January last year as his wife’s visa was due to expire a month before they were posted back to UK in September. She hadn’t taken the Life in the UK test, so would only be able to apply for another five-year limited leave visa. Due to COVID-19, the posting date has now been moved to March this year but Hemraj has been informed that his wife cannot apply for a visa until he has an assignment order – a requirement which hasn’t been in place for more than a decade. The case has now been raised to Regional Command.

We have a long tradition of working closely with Forces Families and remained open throughout the pandemic for Key Workers’ children.

Pay only 10% of the fees, around £1,000 per term* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2021/22. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA. Charity No. 525616 spring 2021 Army&You 29



Welfare officers go the proverbial extra mile to keep forces families smiling


EBASING is hard on families and units alike without the added complexity of a pandemic. Carole Rudd, AFF Manager England, visited The Royal Dragoon Guards (RDG) in Catterick and 1 YORKS in Warminster before COVID-19 struck and was impressed by their proactive approach, especially when everything came to a halt… “The news that their moves had been postponed sent a ripple of shock through their wider communities,” says Carole. RDG Unit Welfare Officer, Capt Danny Franks, spoke about how they managed to reschedule and subsequently support their families. He says: “Initially it was chaotic. However, regular meetings with Army Basing gave us the answers we needed. “We worked tirelessly to prioritise families

and listen to their needs. We approached this by putting ourselves in the soldiers’ and families’ shoes and ensured any information we shared was from credible sources, to mitigate any misinformation.”

Good communication

RDG took to social media to share a steady flow of information, as well as fun and engaging activities. “Throughout this whole process RDG and 1 YORKS have shown extraordinary resilience and creativity in their approach to supporting their families,” says Carole. “I was surprised to hear the RDG welfare team had approached employers of spouses, after they’d already resigned or left their jobs, to ask if they could re-employ them for the duration of the delay. “In particular, the 1 YORKS unit welfare

officer, Capt Lofty Worboys, showed great understanding by phoning individual spouses to discuss the delay and plan of action, in the early days of lockdown, with the hope of dispelling rumours.”

Preparing to move

As the assignment order ban was lifted, a handful of families moved during Easter leave, due to having ‘early mover’ status. “On arrival in Warminster, one family was faced with a few hurdles and with no unit support in the vicinity, Capt Franks took it upon himself to travel the 300mile journey to support them personally – a prime example of going above and beyond,” says Carole. Beth Tatt (pictured above) says: “The move went as smoothly as possible thanks to the welfare department managing the removals and taking over the house for us. “All we had to do was pack and remember the dates and times. The whole transition covered only two days from Catterick to Warminster and now we are enjoying our new home.” LCpl Brunning, of the RDG, says: “Our move was made harder with COVID-19 restrictions in place but, with support from the welfare team and the regiment, it went smoothly.”

Building the community

With rebasing concluded, Capt Franks is now focused on fully integrating the unit into Warminster. “Initiatives such as the litter sweep have instilled a sense of community spirit and pride, which we will continue,” he says. “We are now liaising with local businesses and parks to secure entrance tickets for families.” Alongside this, the welfare team is planning a ‘Welcome to Warminster’ event, when COVID-19 allows, which will include schools, veterans and local businesses, encouraging a whole community approach.

30 Army&You spring 2021


Expert navigation through the mortgage process The mortgage market can be tricky to navigate. And with so many mortgages to choose from, which way do you turn? When you need a mortgage, make a call to the Fee-Free Mortgage Advice Service provided by Tenet Mortgage Solutions Limited.

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PMGI Limited, trading as Forces Mutual acts as an intermediary for the purposes of introducing its customers to Tenet Mortgage Solutions Limited, part of Tenet. You will not receive advice or any recommendation from Forces Mutual. Such services will be provided by Tenet Mortgage Solutions Limited.

A mortgage is a loan secured against your home. Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage. PMGI Limited, trading as Forces Mutual is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Financial Services Register No. 114942. Registered in England & Wales No. 1073408. Registered office: 55 Gracechurch Street, London, EC3V 0RL. Tenet Mortgage Solutions Limited is an Appointed Representative of TenetConnect Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority under reference FRN: 149826. Tenet Mortgage Solutions Limited is a company registered in England and Wales under company number: 09111571 and whose registered office is at 5 Lister Hill, Horsforth, Leeds, LS18 5AZ. Calls to 03 numbers usually cost no more than to geographic numbers (01 or 02) and are usually included in call packages, please check with your phone company if they are included in your package. For your security, all calls are recorded and may be monitored.

FM3102 (0121)



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To feature, email



Irish innovations

From sustainable projects to a skate park – wheels are rolling on Aldergrove adaptations


T’S AN exciting time at Aldergrove in Northern Ireland with some major developments planned for two sites where old quarters once stood. AFF’s Northern Ireland regional lead has been finding out what’s in store… The chain of command has taken ideas and suggestions from soldiers and families living in the area to develop the sites. Military spouse Becky says: “It’s lovely that ideas and suggestions from families are being made a reality. I think it will really boost community morale, creating more for families to do, especially considering the isolation of where we live.” Site 1 will be developed into an active sports area with a mountain bike track and skate park, while Site 2 is a large open space which has been allocated for the development of community-led projects. Ideas include community allotments, a traditional Irish wildflower meadow, beehives, a small orchard and the planting of some native trees. The existing road infrastructure will be left in place and de-motorised creating a safe space or ‘greenway’ for children to ride their bikes and scooters. Many of the ideas presented are ecologically friendly and will increase biodiversity. The Aldergrove community is keen to create sustainable projects that will not only improve the local environment but also the physical and mental wellbeing of serving personnel and their families.


If you’re posted to Northern Ireland and want to find out more about the developments, send an email to

The community also wants to create picnic areas, spaces for wild play, outdoor arts and crafts and even a camping zone complete with a firepit and barbecue areas. Aldergrove resident Thalia adds: “It’s a very exciting time as several developments are happening on camp which will benefit all. Seeing ideas come to life is fantastic and a proper morale booster.

“They will be enjoyed by the community for years to come.” There’s now an Aldergrove committee which is working with the chain of command to drive the project forward. Faye, a spouse living at Aldergrove, believes it will bring the community even closer after what has been a challenging time. “It’s an exciting opportunity to regenerate an empty, derelict space that would otherwise just be left,” she says. It’s hoped the mountain bike track and skate park will be up and running soon after Easter, with the rest of the project beginning later in the spring. &

spring 2021 Army&You 33


A roof over your head


ERE at AFF we encourage you to plan your move to civilian housing in plenty of time before leaving the army. We know, however, that things don’t always go smoothly. AFF housing specialist, Cat Calder, looks at a scheme which could help if the unexpected happens… If you’re suddenly faced with leaving your Service Family Accommodation (SFA) before you’d planned, do consider a range of different options, as social housing is hard to come by in many areas. The MOD Referral Scheme, run by the Joint Service Housing Advice Office (JSHAO), could help you. Some housing associations ask JSHAO to nominate personnel as tenants for vacant

properties – this can help if you have difficulty proving a local connection, for example, and can sometimes help those needing adapted properties as well. JSHAO doesn’t hold any stock itself so is reliant on the goodwill of housing associations, which means that there’s no knowing where or when properties may become available. However, if you’re prepared to be flexible, it’s an option to consider. As a family or spouse, you’ll need to: l be within six months of your soldier’s discharge date l currently be in SFA or staying in the Services Cotswold Centre or a hostel

l have little or no savings or expected gratuities l not already own or rent a property. Applicants are prioritised for need and you’ll be informed in writing if you’ve been accepted and added to the database for when housing becomes available. You’ll only be given one offer, so make sure that you’re clear about your needs when you apply.

Find out more

Search MOD Referral Scheme and access the application form at, then send to JSHAO at RC-Pers-JSHAO-0Mailbox@

Home from Home

A safe and supportive close-knit community for daughters of Forces families. Chat to our Admissions Team on 01904 727630 / or visit Day, Flexible and Full Boarding School for Girls aged 11-18. 34 Army&You spring 2021




FF housing specialist Cat Calder gives the lowdown on extra funding for service accommodation… To help generate work in the building industry after the first COVID-19 lockdown, the government gave DIO £200 million to improve service accommodation. Of this, £122 million was earmarked for SFA and, on top of this year’s £123 million budget, it means much more work can be done. 3,500 SFA are being upgraded, including bringing 800 void properties back into use. Some roads, street lighting and play parks are also being improved.

What's the catch?

Great news, but it's too good to be true, right? Well, this extra money must be spent within 18 months. Surveys (desktop and physical) have already taken place to identify which SFA need improvements and many

are already empty. However, in some occupied quarters the work needed will be extensive, such as re-wiring and replumbing, which may mean that you have to move out while it's being done.

Hassle-free move

AFF is working with DIO and Amey to ensure that those of you affected are given clear information so that you can plan your moves with minimum hassle. Removals to another quarter will be paid for and you can apply for Disturbance Expense through the usual channels. DIO and Amey have said that they are working closely with heads of establishment and welfare teams and will be as accommodating as possible over the new allocation. If you need to stay in the same area for schooling, for example, speak to your welfare team so they can alert Amey. For these

moves, you won’t need to leave your SFA to move-out standard. Once the work is finished, you may be able to move back into the newly refurbished house. At AFF, we appreciate that moving mid-tour is a huge disruption, even with removals being paid for. However, this is a huge opportunity to bring SFA up to the standard that we would love to see.

First wave

Larkhill has already seen the first wave of refurbishments – removing old kitchens, bathrooms, pipework and radiators, boilers, wiring and the old ceilings and floors. The interiors now meet the latest regulations and there’s no woodchip in sight! The walls have been replastered, and there are new carpets and curtains. Exteriors have also had a full makeover, including new roofs, windows, doors, fencing, loft

and external wall insulation. This has transformed the look of the properties and improved their thermal efficiency, so they should be far more comfortable to live in, and benefit from reduced heating bills. If you’ve received a letter asking you to move out and have any concerns, speak to the Amey helpdesk and your welfare team or email us at For more information, search Service Family Accommodation at

Your future – your housing Communication

IN OUR 2020 Big Survey we asked you to share your views about the Future Accommodation Model – the future of housing for army families. We heard from a diverse mix of spouses and partners, service personnel and dual serving families. Results showed that whilst FAM offered greater choice for some, there remained concern about its compatibility with a mobile army lifestyle.

Support for SFA

If Service Family Accommodation (SFA) was reduced, 49 per cent of respondents told us they would consider leaving the army, and 26 per cent said they would definitely leave. One family said: “SFA is a large part of what attracts my family to the army. “It provides support whilst I’m deployed and is a familiar environment when moving around. I would leave if my family couldn’t have the ease of moving which SFA provides.”

Patch life is valued

More than two-thirds of respondents

The survey found that 82 per cent of you said you’d received little or no communication about FAM. Spouses and partners felt less informed than personnel.

Pros and cons

said that the removal of the patch would have either some or a significant negative impact on their ability to cope with frequent moves. A similar number thought it would have an impact on their ability to cope if their service person was deployed. A respondent commented: “Having a house that’s in good condition and appropriate for your needs, close to your work with a ready-made community ready to welcome you removes so much stress from the assignment process.” You were clear that, if offered a choice of housing under FAM, the majority would choose SFA.

People felt that the positives were that FAM widens the entitlement to unmarried families and offers more choice, but the negatives were that it doesn’t work for families who face frequent mobility and it removes the military community many rely on for support.

What’s next?

AFF is continuing to work with the chain of command and the MOD to ensure that those involved in the FAM policy understand the evidence and views from army families. There’s more detail available on the AFF website – and if you have any concerns or feedback, do contact us at spring 2021 Army&You 35


OST of us are familiar with that feeling of uncertainty that comes with yet another move. For many of you, an area that’s often overlooked by the process is childcare. AFF’s survey last year showed that 55 per cent of respondents felt that there was a limited choice of childcare settings. “I feel as a working mum who’s married to someone in the army, it’s always down to me to find suitable childcare, which gives me so much stress and anxiety.” It’s an area that’s been recognised by the MOD and steps are being made to improve the quality of provision that’s available. The Directorate Children and Young People (DCYP) has recently established a Childcare Support Team (CST) and Debra Barton is their early years specialist, who’s keen to work alongside settings and local authorities across the UK to bring together good practice and enhance understanding. We asked her to tell us more…

What is DCYP’s role specifically in early years?

Our team currently has two main priorities – the launch of wraparound childcare pilots to help inform what a future rollout might look like; gathering evidence of childcare challenges, particularly around deployment.

What’s the minimum that military families can expect from an early years setting?

It depends on which part of the UK you’re in. You may be eligible for 15 or 30 hours per week funded childcare in term time. Tax-free childcare is also available if you meet the eligibility criteria. You should look for a setting that’s

regulated and inspected for quality and safety. This is provided by Ofsted in England, Care Inspectorate in Scotland, Care Inspectorate in Wales and Early Years Teams in Northern Ireland. More information can be found on their websites.

How do you encourage best practice to support service families?

Settings are expected to provide an early learning curriculum based on a standard framework. It includes personal, social and emotional development, and physical and communication skills, which are developed through activities and interactions with others. Settings will be able to provide more information, and we encourage you to spend time talking to them about their offer.

What advice would you give to families who are having difficulty accessing suitable childcare?

Speak to the community development workers, as they work with the chain of command on the needs analysis for local authorities, or their childcare sufficiency team may be able to help. DCYP has lots of useful information on education and childcare for service families

at or you can email them at DCYPCEAS-Enquiries@mod. spring 2021 Army&You 37

SETTING STANDARDS Army&You spoke to some early years settings to find out how they support service children…

The Nest, Tidworth 27 service children out of 32 How will the nursery help my child settle in? We’ll send a pack to your child before their start date, which includes a welcome video and pictures of their key worker and the room. Children are invited in for two taster sessions, and we usually complete a home visit, but this is just a phone call for now. What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location? With the pressures of moving this can be a big change and challenge in a child’s life. We talk about it with the children whether they’ve just moved here or are leaving us. Before COVID-19, we also held coffee mornings and stay and play sessions for new parents. We’re also opening a new nursery on the Corunna Estate, which will have lots of service children. Does the nursery have links with the local military community? We invite our local military community to open days and occupation weeks, but

during COVID-19 we’ve been restricted. All our children dress up for Armed Forces Day and join in the celebrations. During Remembrance, we take our children to our local war memorial to lay a wreath and we love to visit nearby military museums too.

What do parents say? “Not only have our children been supported but as a family it’s made us stronger. “This nursery has gone above and beyond when it comes to kindness and compassion.”

Chatterbox, Upavon Mainly service children How will the nursery help my child settle in? As most of the children come from service families, we have a deep understanding of the effects of such turbulence. We have a simple morning routine that provides a sense of familiarity each day to help to settle children quickly. We encourage dialogue between parents and staff so we know when soldiers are away; we understand the impact that this can have on a child’s sense of security and routine. What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location?

38 Army&You spring 2021

Speak honestly and openly about your child with members of staff – discuss plans for toilet training, daytime naps, special educational needs support and how the early years foundation syllabus is applied. Our management committee is mostly

made up of parents living or working on site at Trenchard Lines, so we have a wealth of knowledge on service life. Does the nursery have links with the local military community? We have an amazing group

of very supportive parents on camp, who are keen to help out – be that working weekends or fundraising. We get a huge amount of support and advice from the CO of Trenchard Lines, HQ South West and DCYP. We’ve listened to our service community and plan to move to full-time hours this year to better support them and we’ll be offering a forest school too. What do parents say? “We love the incredibly warm welcome all the children receive at Chatterbox. Both my sons have grown to be confident and outgoing little boys who love to go to pre-school,” says parent Carolyn Morton. @ArmyandYou

Scots Corner Early Learning and Childcare Centre, Penicuik 57% service children How will the nursery help my child settle in? We recognise that every child/family is unique and therefore our settling in procedures at the centre recognise this. Each family works in partnership with their child’s key worker to build a strong relationship and create a transition plan that recognises the individual needs of the child and family, whilst supporting them to settle into the centre.

What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location? We’ve worked hard to really get to know our forces community and what they need from us. Families play an important role in the daily life of the centre and although the current restrictions mean we’re unable to welcome them into the centre every day, it’s still important that we find creative ways to ensure they feel fully engaged in their child’s learning. Does the nursery have links with the local military community? We understand how difficult

moving to a new area can be and are fortunate to be based in the heart of the military community. Working alongside 2 SCOTS welfare team has given us a fantastic opportunity to build strong relationships and increase our knowledge.

Raigmore Primary School Nursery, Inverness 23% service children

We work alongside the unit welfare officer and community development workers, and we have a partnership with RCET, which has provided ongoing support as well as useful books to help us. The Military Liaison Group also helps us to stay connected across our local authority and various services. During periods of deployment, we provide additional emotional check-ins with the children and offer targeted support, including relaxation, mindfulness or play therapy sessions.

How will the nursery help my child settle in? We take pride in establishing positive relationships with our military families and in providing a holistic approach to education and the health and wellbeing of our children. Prior to starting, our ‘All About Me’ is completed by families to help us gather as much information as possible. What should I expect when my child starts nursery in a new location? Funding from the Armed Forces Education Trust has enabled us to employ an additional teacher to work solely with our military families from

What do parents say? “My children have come on leaps and bounds since starting at Scots Corner. The staff are lovely and nothing is too much trouble. The best support we’ve received from any nursery they have been to,” says Rebecca Prince.

nursery to P7. Through appropriate activities, children explore deployment, belonging, as well as change and loss. Does the nursery have links with the local military community?

What do parents say? “The girls were encouraged to talk about their feelings. I applaud Raigmore for the level of understanding they have, not just for the kids but for the parent who’s left behind – they really do try their best to help us.”

SOURCES OF SUPPORT WHEN CHOOSING YOUR SETTING Engaging with early years settings is key to securing a place at the setting of your choice. Pay a visit prior to moving if you can or take a virtual tour if it’s available. If you have any issues or questions, contact AFF’s education & childcare specialist, Anna Hutchinson at You can also find useful information at:

AFF – Local army HIVE blog sign up or follow Facebook and Twitter @ArmyHIVEinfo Search ‘family information service’ in your area Coram Family and Childcare Ofsted –

Welsh Government Care Inspectorate Wales Early Stages Guidance booklet Scotland Parentzone Scotland

Care Inspectorate Scotland Northern Ireland RC-AWS-38X-0mailbox@mod. Family Support NI Early Years Teams NI spring 2021 Army&You 39

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Childcare change in Cyprus WRAPAROUND CARE TRIAL IN CATTERICK There’s good news if you’re based in Catterick with children aged four to 11, you can now apply for free before- and after-school childcare. The pilot scheme, which began in January, offers up to 20 hours of childcare a week in term time. You must be in paid employment, working at least 16 hours per week, and your soldier must be assigned to one of the units in Catterick Garrison. If you’re eligible and interested in applying, your soldier should email from their MOD email address, stating ‘EOI-Catterick Garrison’ in the title. Want to find out more? See AFF’s FAQs at

EXTENDING the childcare hours in Ayios Nikolaos for 0 to 11-year-olds is a groundbreaking development for families in Cyprus. Previously, children of school age were only provided for by childminders, with limited places, leaving some families without access to registered childcare. The Ayios Nikolaos Child Care Hub is now running before- and after-school clubs as well as a holiday club, with children able to attend from 7am to 4pm, Monday to Friday, 50 weeks of the year. “Families can now feel confident that their children can be looked after in a quality l A toolkit is now available to help schools boost their support for service children. Thriving Lives has been created by the Service Children’s Progression (SCiP) Alliance and partners across the UK after gathering evidence through its ‘Year of the service child voice’ project. Based on a framework of seven

setting which adheres to UK standards,” says AFF’s Cyprus lead Aileen Naylor. “This opens the door for parents to seek employment and training, and attend to the numerous tasks involved in running a household in a foreign country secure in the knowledge that their children are well looked after.” RAF Akrotiri is launching similar wraparound care and AFF is hopeful that Episkopi and Dhekelia stations will follow suit in the near future. We’ll report back when we hear more. Do contact Aileen if you have any questions –

principles, it includes an introductory animation; a detailed resource showing what schools can do to support their service children and who can help, plus case studies. AFF contributed to the evidence and research: “It’s an exciting development for schools and gives them the tools to best support

our service children,” says AFF education & childcare specialist, Anna Hutchinson. “Extensive research and collaboration have taken place to ensure that the values underpinning this toolkit will help to drive forward best practice.” Go to thriving-lives-toolkit




spring 2021 Army&You 41

The school is so welcoming and understanding of someone from a military background, I quickly felt part of the community. Student


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42 Army&You spring 2021

11/02/2021 12:42:10



THE SOUND OF SUCCESS We explore the measures taken by schools and colleges to cater for the musically-minded


ITHOUT doubt music education in schools has been one of the losers through the COVID-19 pandemic, with singing, instrumental lessons, choirs, ensembles and performances all hit badly, writes Gareth Harris, Director of Music at Dauntsey’s.

At GCSE level, the study of music from the Western Classical tradition, composing and preparation of performances, helps students develop a determination to strive for excellence, as well as resilience, strong powers of concentration, self-confidence and emotional intelligence. Dauntsey’s students regularly go in to the

Many schools dropped music from their online

profession to study music or music technology,

teaching and any opportunities for making

but there have also been outstanding music

music have been severely constrained.

students who have pursued degrees in the

But it is true to say that before the pandemic,

sciences, humanities and languages. The School

music was hardly thriving in schools. Nationally,

is updated regularly by old Dauntseians involved

the number of students learning an instrument

in choirs, orchestras and bands who are enjoying

has declined dramatically in recent years. This

and communicate, empathise and develop

is driven largely by the omission of music from

long-lasting friendships. Music builds a sense of

the English Baccalaureate list of subjects and the

community and provides a feeling of belonging

contemplating curriculum reform to think

regular public pronouncements about science

in an organisation. It nurtures the soul and can

about the importance of music provision in

being more important than anything else.

provide an avenue to spiritual experiences.

and out of the classroom. Parents too have an

Crucially, the costs associated with learning

a lifetime of music-making. I urge schools and governing bodies

Music is also one of the few activities where

important role to play – I am often asked how to

music have been passed on to parents and

ensembles made up of students from across all

get children more interested in music. I tell them

budget shortfalls have also led to many music

year groups work alongside each other as equals,

to go to all the school concerts and performances

services closing down. Consequently, we are

rather than being defined by their age or gender.

– and if there aren’t any, ask why! Encourage

already starting to see the effects of the resulting

It is very common at Dauntsey’s to see a Lower

children to take up an instrument or work on

fall in the numbers of students learning an

School student performing alongside one of our

their singing, help them to do a little practice

instrument or taking singing lessons.

Sixth Formers in a choir or instrumental group.

on a regular basis and take an interest in what

This is in spite of a raft of evidence about the

I am pleased to say that at Dauntsey’s we

they do, no matter what style of music they are

benefits of exposure to music from an early

are bucking the trend as we have 40 per

exploring – be their biggest fan and their best

age. Research suggests that both listening to

cent of students learning an instrument and

critic. If you have a spare moment, just have a

music and playing an instrument stimulates the

participation in ensembles from choirs to rock

look on a site such as YouTube or SoundCloud.

brain, improves concentration and social skills.

bands seems to increase almost every week.

Search out some of the amazing young choirs,

Enhanced mathematical skills have also been

In recent years, singing lessons have grown

orchestras and bands who are posting footage

observed in many advanced musicians and those

enormously in popularity while piano and violin

of themselves. Then go and see a group such as

children with a good musical ear can often pick

are also seeing a resurgence, along with guitar

your local choral society or the county youth

up languages more quickly as they recognise and

and saxophone.

orchestra and enjoy the wonder of community

learn the different tones in a foreign language.

A number of pupils go on to study music at GCSE

music-making. Remember to take the children.

There have also been studies carried out on

and A-Level. Far from being a “soft option”, the

More than anything else, performing should be

groups of children of primary school age to see

qualifications have a challenging curriculum to

fun. When we enjoy ourselves, all of us learn

if learning an instrument can improve academic

master and universities value them. It is possible

more effectively and challenges are merely

progress. Results indicate that, over time, those

to study medicine with an A-Level in music

a temporary inconvenience rather than an

who learn an instrument demonstrate enhanced

alongside sciences and senior consultant surgeons

insurmountable barrier to progress.

development across a range of subjects.

have remarked that they find a doctor who is a

But music has a role to play beyond the

I hope that some readers at least will join

musician is easier to train in surgical skills than a

my crusade to push music higher up the list of

classroom. It crosses all borders, languages and

person without instrumental skills, as the ability

priorities in school. Education – and society – is a

cultures. People of all ages and backgrounds

to learn patterns quickly and also to understand

poorer place without music.

can come together under the umbrella of music

instruction through gestures is already embedded.


NOT an obvious choice of ensemble for a senior school based in England, let alone Surrey, but Gordon’s School in Surrey Heath is known for its Pipes and Drums!

benefit, students embark on the

As the national memorial to war

are also encouraged to tackle the

Good to Great programme and are paired with a personal mentor to help them improve their skills through additional support and guidance. And Sixth Form students

hero General Charles Gordon, the

Gold Arts Award qualification, based

Pipes and Drums have been an

on developing skills in arts subjects.

important and unique part of the

While lockdowns have prevented

school’s ceremonial traditions since

‘live’ concerts and performances,

it was first established more than

in school, musical students have

100 years ago.

still been able to showcase their

Dressed in their Blues uniform,

talents in the public arena. Live-

the 50-strong pipers and drummers

streamed informal concerts have

(incorporating snare, tenor and

daily practice, the students take

they have access to a range of

been enjoyed from the school

bass) play for around nine school

part in the weekly drills with their

instruments during their lessons,

to people all over the world. In

parades a year, including the annual

peers to polish their marching

a suite of Macbooks allows them

addition, students were recorded

Whitehall Parade in London, which

skills. Indeed local residents look

to use Garageband in a number

throughout the Christmas period

commemorates General Gordon’s

forward to Friday afternoons

of projects. There are theatre

for a musical advent calendar. The

life. They are also in demand

and the striking melodies of the

and concert trips, foreign tours,

Music Department is currently

locally at fetes and remembrance

Gordon’s Pipers as they stride on to

masterclasses and workshops

putting together a Lockdown Music

events while their professional

the school’s Parade Square!


Festival where students will record

performances have taken them

In addition to learning the

The school boasts an orchestra,

themselves performing something

to Windsor Castle; Westminster

pipes and drums, there is an

senior, junior and boys’ choirs,

Abbey, Birmingham for the national

abundance of curricular and co-

bands and various instrumental

Lest We Forget Children’s Concert,

curricular options for students

groups. They play or sing at

Music Department, said: “Music is

Belgium for the Last Post Ceremony

with an interest in music including

informal musical evenings,

a much enjoyed and important part

at the Menin Gate and even the

additional, specific instrument

competitions, whole-school events

of school life and we are fortunate

stage with the Red Hot Chili Pipers!

lessons from expert staff.

and for the Summer Arts Evening.

in the talented students and staff

Music is available for all ages and

For musical theatre plays put on by

we have here. Even when we

given the opportunity to learn to

abilities. As part of the curriculum

the school, many find themselves in

haven’t able to practice and perform

play the pipes and drums with

students start out covering a

the orchestra pit too!

together live, the enthusiasm has

lessons and equipment provided

wide range of styles and periods

free of charge.

including blues, samba drumming

talented students in the Sixth Form.

all over the world thanks to live-

and pop song writing. While

As well as providing a financial

streaming and video sharing.”

Every student in the school is

While the instruments require

Music scholarships are offered to

and send it into school for prizes! Adam Stanworth, director of the

continued online and has reached


FOUNDED in 627 AD, St Peter’s School, York, is the world’s fourth oldest school with a long history of top-class education. Today, St Peter’s is a leading day and boarding school for girls and boys aged 2-18 and was named The Sunday Times North Independent Secondary School of the Year 2019. St Peter’s offers an all-round education defined by an exceptional range of music, artistic, cultural and sporting opportunities. There are over 80 different co-curricular activities available, including a thriving Combined Cadet Force. Enthusiastic participation is key, with 15 different sports played by 250 sports teams. musical ensembles flourish, with regular concerts

the vast array of activities on offer at St Peter’s. A

boasts one of the largest and most diverse music

As the Choir School for York Minster, St Peter’s

and performances, whilst individual music

dedicated junior Boarding House is available for

departments in the North with excellent facilities.

lessons give pupils the opportunity to pursue their

children in Years 7 and 8, and there are two girls’

The school believes that music should touch the

own passions and interests.

Boarding Houses and two boys’ Boarding Houses

lives of as many children as possible. Choirs and

Boarding allows pupils to take advantage of

for the senior pupils.

spring 2021 Army&You 45


“Music,” wrote Plato, “gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind and flight to the imagination.”

production is staged where their

says Mrs Hunter, “however, this

accomplishments are celebrated.”

was never going to stop us playing.

instrumental and singing skills

trumpets for glockenspiels, clarinets

For these and much more, it’s

are supported by a large team of

for xylophones, saxophones

seen as a key part of education at

dedicated peripatetic teachers, and

for keyboards and flutes for

The Downs Malvern. Every child

many win music scholarships at the

tambourines. Together with our

has the opportunity to not only

next school of their choice.

percussion section, we formed

Children looking to advance their

realise their talents – in whatever

The lockdowns have led to highly-

The children swopped their

the ‘We just can’t blow at the mo’

direction they may lay – but can

imaginative alternatives to keep

Orchestra’ and performed online for

explore music in all its forms. The

everyone “on song”. Online musical

everyone to enjoy the results.”

school offers an array of activities

projects have been set, lessons

“Music at The Downs Malvern

such as junior and senior choir,

of Music, Mrs Lesley Hunter,

continued via Teams, a virtual choir

at the moment might seem a little

orchestra, rock band, saxophone

“with pupils singing and playing

formed and performances videoed.

different,” concludes Headmaster

ensemble and brass group.

their instruments regularly in

“Music forms an integral part of our daily lives,” says Head

“Getting the wind instruments in

Alastair Cook, “but it is most

assemblies and concerts. At least

the orchestra to collaborate online

certainly still alive, beating and

once a year, a large musical drama

– and in time – was challenging,”

definitely being heard!”

MALVERN COLLEGE MALVERN College, a co-educational Independent full boarding and day school for children aged 13-18 years, can be found, nestled at the base of the Malvern Hills and surrounded by the countryside which so inspired English composer Sir Edward Elgar. Our aim at Malvern College is to provide

Herefordshire, whilst the Chamber Choir has

Steinway pianos and heralded the completion

undertaken tours to France and Holland.

of a total piano replacement throughout the

Malvern College is also a regular rehearsal

College, which now totals 31 pianos all supplied

and concert venue for many local and national

by Steinway and Sons notably, eight grand

ensembles including the Malvern Festival Chorus

pianos, including a Model D concert grand

and Malvern Winds, as well as being the home of

piano in Big School, a Model C grand piano in St

the National Schools Symphony Orchestra.

Edmund’s Hall, a re-built existing Model B in the

In November 2020, we took delivery of 28 new

musical opportunities for all our young people;

Chapel and two grand pianos in the Lyon Room to encourage two-piano repertoire and Piano


Concerto rehearsals.

enjoy some regular music making. We are an

With Music and Performing Arts

opportunity to be taught on a grand piano, with 3

All-Steinway School, a prestigious accolade given

scholarships available at ages 13 and 16,

practice rooms now having a grand piano. Other

by Steinway & Sons to schools who demonstrate

Milton Abbey School helps creative young

rooms in the Music School have new upright

a commitment to excellence and an unparalleled

people hone their skills, while benefiting

Boston (Steinway design) pianos. Each of our 11

education experience.

from the broadest educational offer in the

Boarding Houses has at least one new upright

UK. The School was recognised as BTEC

Essex (Steinway design) piano.

from high-level performers preparing for a career in music to enthusiasts who want to

All music lessons are held in the Music School,

Every piano pupil is guaranteed the

a large Victorian building, which enjoys a dual

School of the Year in 2019 and specialises in

aspect looking up to the Malvern Hills and

study programmes that get students ready

College Chapel. The Chapel Choir is for pupils of

out over the Vale of Evesham, inspiring our

for university and their future careers.

all ages and sings at the Sunday services each

musicians just as much today as it has in years

There is a fine three-manual Willis organ in the

Budding music producers can work in a

week, as well as leading worship at other special

past. The Music School comprises three large

professional recording studio and on stage

services on Remembrance Sunday and at various

rehearsal/classrooms, a music technology room,

shows each year. Performers have access to

Carol services. Advent Carols are sung in Great

percussion room, recording studio, library and

a wide a variety of spaces, including sound-

Malvern Priory where the annual Service of

numerous large practice and teaching rooms.

proofed recording suites, a fully equipped

Commemoration is also held.

Attached to the Music School is St Edmund’s, a 150-seat recital hall. Regular informal and community concerts take place here giving

theatre and an Abbey with spectacular natural acoustics. In the Lower School, pupils can study

In our Foundation Year (Year 9), all pupils follow a short course in music. Pupils in the Remove and Hundred (Years 10 and 11) can opt to follow

pupils many opportunities for solo and ensemble

Drama, Music and Creative Media,

the GCSE course in Music, and the subject is

performances. Major concerts take place in Big

alongside essential GCSEs and other

offered in the Sixth Form at A level and within the

School which is situated in the main school

BTECs. In the Sixth Form, Level 3 BTECs

International Baccalaureate Diploma. All pupils

building and where the School Orchestra,

in Performing Arts, Music Performance

can be part of the musical life at the College even if

Concert Band, Chamber Orchestra, Chamber

or Music Technology allow students to

they do not study music at GCSE, A level or IB.

Choir and Jazz Band perform. The College

focus on developing professional skills,

Choral Society also gives its annual concert

combining these courses with subjects such

includes two nearby Preparatory Schools, The

in Big School, with recent works including

as Entrepreneurship, Fashion Design or

Downs Malvern and Abberley Hall School, and

Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man, Orff’s Carmina

traditional A-Levels.

six international campuses with the seventh

Burana and Verdi’s Requiem. College musicians perform at various venues in Worcestershire and

46 Army&You spring 2021

The Malvern College Family of Schools

Malvern College Switzerland, opening in September 2021.



Open days to inspire


Inspiring children to reach new heights


Please join us at our Open Day for Service Families on Saturday 15th May 2021. To register your place please visit or call the Registrar +44 (0)1684 544108. CO-EDUCATIONAL PREP SCHOOL 3-13YRS. DAY & BOARDING OPTIONS.



Join us at our Service Families Open Day Saturday 15 May 2021 Visit to register your place Co-educational Boarding and Day for pupils aged 2-13 Set in private grounds in the beautiful Worcestershire countryside, Abberley pupils enjoy a magical childhood with the space to explore in a home away from home.

spring 2021 Army&You 47


AN INTEGRAL part of the Duke

regular musical events at DOYRMS

of York’s Royal Military School

including Musician of the Year

(DOYRMS), open to all 11 to

competition, Dukies’ Got Talent

18-year-olds, is the Arts including

show, musical showcases and

Music. Students benefit from

concerts, and the annual Musical

expert tuition provided by 11

Production which encompasses all

professional musicians while

the Arts; past performances have

their musical skills are nurtured

included Phantom of the Opera,

through a combination of lessons,

Guys and Dolls and Sister Act.

group practise and performances.

As well as school productions,

Within the school’s 150-acre Kent

there are excellent opportunities

countryside estate, you will find

for Dukies to perform their talents

many music practise rooms both

at many venues; recently these

within the academic areas and in

all Year 7 Dukies receiving free

the boarding houses, there is also

instrumental lessons on military

whole school with all students

Disneyland Paris and for Prince

a piano in the Dukies Coffee Shop

band instruments. All instruments

singing at the School Chapel

Edward at Leeds Castle. The school

where students can practise while

are supplied by the school for the

services and competing within

also offers a number of ensembles

entertaining their peers.

90-student-strong Military Marching

their boarding houses during

as part of the 70 clubs and activities

Band, which incorporates a corps of

the annual Inter-House Song

on offer every week, from choirs to

28 drummers and buglers.

Competition. There are a number of

the Dukies Big Band.

When students join DOYRMS they become ‘Dukies’ for life, with

Music permeates through the

have included performances at


MUSIC is for all. At Gresham’s, every member

A particular highlight recently was seeing

of the school is involved in making music,

pupils able to perform in front of their friends and

and is exposed to music of all different styles

teachers once again.

and for many different occasions.

The Theatre in the Woods staged our first

We believe it is a vital part of the curriculum to

ever Garden Live Lounge, a follow on from the

inspire creativity across all areas and we quite

#Happyorsad Studio productions made during

often have background music playing in academic

the lockdown period. Fire pits, tuck shops and

lessons, or to punctuate tasks.

fairy lights set the festival atmosphere, and our

Music education should be accessible to all,

singers and musicians excelled themselves with

with the addition of exceptional opportunities

some truly outstanding performances.

for those with a passion. Our pupils have the

of-the-art recital hall, recording studio, music

opportunity to participate in various instrumental

practice rooms and teaching rooms.

ensembles designed to fit in with pupil needs and

Our industry-standard recording studio is used


experience. In our Prep School, we run an Annual

not only by our A Level Music Technology pupils

STAFF at Sexey’s School were proud to

Upbeat day for local schools to join with our

and our BTEC Digital Music Production pupils,

hear Old Sexeian Colonel Lucy Giles on

musicians to work together in preparation for a

but also by many of our bands and choirs – from

Radio 4’s prestigious Desert Island Discs

short orchestral concert at the end of the day.

the recording of the Gresham’s Girls’ and Guys’

show over the Christmas period.

Music is at the heart of Gresham’s life and

charity singles to the Prep pupils’ Christmas

She spoke about her career as an officer

lessons are available throughout the School, from

album. Gresham’s is committed to excellence, and

of the British Army’s Royal Logistic Corps

Pre-Prep to Senior. Individual music lessons are

our status as an All Steinway School demonstrates

and her role as President of the Army Officer

available for a wide variety of instruments and

this. The Music School café, Tig’s, based in the

Selection Board. As the first woman to

voice. At our Prep School, regular performance

Senior School, enables pupils to spend time in an

take on this role, she spoke movingly about

opportunities are available in and outside

environment that is surrounded by the hustle and

motivation and being an inspirational role

school, along with external music exams and

bustle of musicians and music-making.

model. If you missed it, you can catch the

opportunities to be part of school productions,

A regular slot in the music timetable is the

show at

which are often musicals. All students in Year 9

weekly Music & Munch, which takes place in Tig’s.

study Music as an academic subject. After this,

This relatively informal venue provides invaluable

generation of Sexeians, including Albert

you can choose to study the subject at GCSE and

performing experience for Gresham’s musicians

Steele, Head Boy, who was promoted to the

then on to A Level, IB or BTEC.

and a chance for them to showcase their talents.

position of Regimental Sergeant Major (RSM)

Pupils of all levels have access to fantastic

We have many provisions of which we are

Colonel Lucy continues to inspire a new

in the Somerset Army Cadet Force (ACF) in

facilities. Our Fishmongers Recital Hall seats up

proud, including the chance to produce your own

summer 2019 – making him the youngest

to 140 audience members, giving our musicians

pop song; singing in the community; karaoke

cadet to have ever achieved the role. The

the opportunity to perform to sell-out audiences.

theme nights for boarders; subscription concerts

school has an active cadet force that parades

Our Britten Building, opened in 2017 by HRH The

given by top-class visiting musicians, who often

weekly outside of lockdown.

Princess Royal and named after Old Greshamian

provide workshops during their visit; and whole

composer Benjamin Britten, provides a state-

school musical events which involve every child.

48 Army&You spring 2021



HAVE you heard about the school in special measures that chose to increase the amount of music in the curriculum instead of pursuing extra academic studies?

very receptive to learning,” explains Susie Lamb.

It’s a happy tale that ends with a ‘Good’ Ofsted

other subject lessons like French and Science as

“Every pupil has at least one timetabled class music lesson each week, around 90 per cent learn an instrument (or two), all regularly sing within

rating and the school, Feversham Primary

well as in chapel and our two weekly assemblies.

Academy in Bradford – which serves a deprived

It’s fair to say we breathe music in this school.”

community, being in the top 10 per cent of

“Obviously, the benefits of learning an

schools nationally for positive pupil progress.

instrument go beyond academic improvements.

“I’m not surprised the pupils [at Feversham]

The pupils at SCS also build self-confidence

progressed so much,” says Susie Lamb, Head of Music at Salisbury Cathedral School (SCS).

through a programme of regular informal In essence, music makes your brain grow.

concerts that celebrate all levels of musical

“Music makes you feel better, whether it’s your

Neuroscientists around the world have proven

accomplishments. We recognise the effort and the

favourite pop song on the radio or playing a piece

this across many research papers investigating

bravery behind every performance be it a grade

on the piano. Happy children learn better.”

different age groups and the over-arching

8 masterpiece or Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.

conclusion is that continued exposure to music

Friendships are also born and strengthened in

reminder that the beautiful music that beats in

improves cognitive abilities. Whilst the positive

the fun environment of our choirs and ensembles.

the heart of our school is much more valuable

effect of musical education is occasionally hyped

And, the very best outcome in my mind, is that

to our children’s development than we often

– the so-called ‘Mozart’ effect – it is equally

music is for life not just for childhood.”

appreciate. Here at SCS, we learn spellings with

proven by neurological measurements such

song, times tables with rhythm and generally

as MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) or EEG

singing, or the beat of a drum lesson, trumpets

ensure music is for everyone every day. Why?


blaring or violin scales floating across the skies

The Feversham story acts as a wonderful

Obviously, it makes learning fun, but it’s also well

“Here at SCS a lot of our children participate in

So, next time you hear one of our choirs

above the school take a minute to remember we

proven that the more music, the better when it

music – singing or instrumental lessons – before

are all building our brains as well as learning a

comes to improving academics.

school meaning their brains are fired up and

life skill, having fun and being mindful.


READ School is renowned for its thriving, astonishing-standard Music Department where pupils engage with music lessons as part of the curriculum, have access to specialist peripatetic instrument tuition to encourage a lifelong love of music, and join diverse extra-curricular musical activities.

it happen. Weekly 25-minute tuition in over 21 different instruments is currently offered and the list is growing. Free taster lessons are available, and junior pupils have half-termly trials in woodwind and string instruments. The Music Department works in close partnership with Drama on the annual musical

Music has long been a valued tradition at the

production. Most recently Beauty and the Beast

354-year old school where a generous, previous

was performed to rave reviews. Most pupils sing

headmaster, Richard Moloney, set up the Moloney

and act with others finessing their set, props,

Trust ‘for the improvement, development,

and costume design skills. A variety of concerts,

education and appreciation of Arts & Music at

and consider classical, rap and Indian music,

church services, assemblies and shows also take

Read School’. Since its inception, the trust has

with musical theory knowledge extended. Older

place throughout the year.

made grants totalling over £100,000. The Read

seniors play their chosen instrument, and/or

School Moloney Trust Competition is an annual

keyboard, in group performances. They study

neighbour, St Peter and Paul Church, Drax,

event and the legacy of Mr Moloney lives on in the

Rock ‘n’ Roll, Blues, Ragtime, Reggae and write

and provides the music for services such as

broad take up of music lessons, and the talent and

their own songs, using elements of pre-GCSE

Remembrance, Nine Lessons & Carols and

enthusiasm of our young musicians.

musical theory.

Commemoration Day.

Music is so highly valued that even our younger

At GCSE, Western classical tradition, pop

Read has a close connection with our

The Winter Concert showcases the immense

pupils are taught by specialist music teachers

music and traditional music are studied and

variety, and breath-taking standard, of music-

from the get-go. All pupils have a one-hour class

performed, and solo and composition techniques

making at Read. Another annual feature of

each week, rising to three from Year 10.

are introduced. Many pupils have excelled to the

the school calendar is the popular Read’s Got

extent that A-level music is now offered at Read.

Talent. Musical prowess, plus more eclectic skills

Emphasis is placed on practical music-making. In lower juniors, singing and the recorder is

Class concerts are held regularly, both in

from roller skating to hoverboard dancing, are

offered plus basic notation, introduced early

lessons and for parents. Recently, lower years

showcased to a panel of selected judges with

to gently introduce essential music theory.

played a song about the power of music, upper

coveted prizes awarded.

Upper juniors study brass and woodwind

juniors performed haunting sea shanties and

instruments, bird song, music for festivals and

pupils across years performed solos on many

been gifted nearly 50 brass bells of varying

more complex theory. In seniors, work covered

instruments, including grade 8 piano.

sizes by The Selby Bell Ringers, who are also

includes orchestra, programmatic music, and the Indonesian Gamelan. Pupils learn keyboard

Read is a pupil-led school so students can suggest any instrument and we try to make

The school was very fortunate to have recently

generously teaching pupils to play, to continue this long, local tradition of bell ringing.

spring 2021 Army&You 49


Ranked in the top 1% of all schools in England and Wales for progress over the past 4 years at A Level. Years 7, 9 and 12 boarding places available.

50 Army&You spring 2021


SPONSORED FEATURE: EDUCATION DRAGON SCHOOL DRAGON School in Oxford has introduced a new enrichment curriculum to replace compulsory academic lessons on Saturday mornings for boarders and day pupils alike. Dragon QUEST launched in September 2020 and children and parents alike have embraced

FINBOROUGH SCHOOL SET in the beautiful rolling Suffolk countryside, Finborough School nurtures the development of a strong character through a culture steeped in the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People coupled with our unique ‘Learnability’ approach and determination that ‘better never stops’.

the programme. Young Dragons are given the

We are a true learning family, where every

chance to learn about the broader context of

young person is individually supported to be

life and engage with the world around them.

the very best version of themselves making

QUEST, despite being optional, has had a

outstanding academic achievement and

tremendous 85 per cent take-up from Years

progress, attaining places at the best universities,

4 and 5 and will extend to the entire Prep

including Oxbridge.

School in September 2021. It is driven by three key principles: discover,

Our students are inspired to flourish across all

In Sport we are regularly victorious in regional and national competitions. Multimillion-pound investment in state-of-the-art facilities and high-

aspects of their expansive school and boarding

level coaching ensures all of our students are

develop and dare. These extend each child

life. Their richness of experience, building

athletically nurtured, developing their health,

beyond the traditional classroom, recognising

a resilient positive mindset and perpetually

fitness and sporting skills.

the importance of the wider development

amplifying their academic, sporting and

of individuals, and the value that senior

creative achievements. The school has seen an

with a rich array of opportunities across music,

schools place upon this. Pupils can choose

incredible level of investment in new buildings

dance and drama. From orchestra to award-

from activities as varied as cultural outings

and facilities, providing an absolutely amazing

winning choirs and productions that never

in Oxford, bike mechanics, visits to a working

learning environment for everyone of our

cease to amaze. The creative arts are also hugely

farm, paddle boarding and first aid.

students to thrive.

supported by a new facility opened in September

Drama, Music and Sport are all incredibly

The most formative years of their lives create a

Our students excel in the performing arts

2020. The creativity that emanates from our

strong at the Dragon and there is a wide

momentum where the balance of self-belief and

students is breathtakingly spectacular across the

variety of extra-curricular clubs after school.

reflection ensures confident individuals emerge

spectrum of art and design.

Dragon QUEST has added an extra dimension

ready for a fast-changing world of opportunity.At

to the opportunities on offer: Dragons sign

the top of our school our Sixth Form students gain

family, where our culture blends ambition

up for an activity of choice for two separate

places at the best universities, including Oxbridge,

and drive for academic success equally with

sessions or opt for one of the longer, ‘conquest’

studying a wealth of subjects from Medicine and

the development of strong positive character

activities which take place off-site.

Veterinary Science to Law and Architecture. The

founded on great personal leadership. We really

level of individual support for them to achieve

believe these are the foundations for the ‘best

their best and reach their goals is unsurpassable.

preparation for life’.

“I never cease to be amazed by the talent in the Dragon Common Room,” explained

Finborough is a genuinely unique learning

Mr Knapp, Director of Dragon QUEST. “The programme is almost exclusively staffed by Dragon teachers, who have hidden talents and qualifications outside of teaching. A few


examples of this include a certified archery

SCHOOL Sport Magazine has released its

coach, a calligraphy tutor and a High Intensity

annual list of the most successful sporting

Interval Training instructor.”

schools in the country with Taunton School

Dragon QUEST continued to run via live sessions during lockdown allowing pupils

making the top ten. For the first time ever, the magazine has

to continue to discover, develop and dare

combined its separate lists of independent and

at home, engaging with their friends and

state schools into one league table of the top 200

teachers virtually. There are new activities

schools. The magazine used the results from 100

such as Scavenger Dragons and Mindful

events across 18 different sports to compile its

Dragons and some continued activities like

final list. These events involved students from

In our physical education programme, we

Culinary Dragons; the difference being that

both the Prep and Senior Schools.

offer a broad and diverse range of sports and

parents are now able to be the first to taste

In a year when school sport was disrupted by

what their young Dragon has been making!

the pandemic and many national finals cancelled,

opportunities. Our highly experienced team

schools were still recognised for reaching the

of coaches, including many who have played

invaluable to help children bounce back from

latter stages of a competition. Taunton School’s

their sport at national level, mean we are able to

the impact of the pandemic: developing their

high ranking reflects the breadth of sports it

support students to excel where they show talent

confidence and opening up horizons.

offers, the high level of participation amongst

and passion. This recognition is a culmination

students and its success at national competitions.

of hard work and commitment from the whole

Hayley Mortimer, Director of Sport at Taunton

Taunton School community and the investment

A programme such as QUEST will prove

activities that enable students to explore different

School, says: “It’s fair to say that sport at

we have made in our facilities and resources

Taunton School very much encompasses the

within our sports programme. We are absolutely

idea of encouraging excellence and promoting

committed to providing the very best experience

participation as School Sport Magazine promotes.

for our students.”

spring 2021 Army&You 51




ROGRAMME CASTLE is set to completely modernise the way your soldier’s career is currently structured. So how is it going to change things? We asked the director of the scheme, Brigadier James Cook, to tell us…

What is Programme CASTLE? CASTLE is an army careers transformation programme that will modernise careers and maximise talent. Many of the current career policies were based on research done in 1959 and, unsurprisingly, society has changed since then! Back then only 30 per cent of army spouses were employed, nowadays, it’s more like 77 per cent. People have different expectations of their careers and we need to accommodate that to be truly successful. What are the timescales? The programme is made up of a series of smaller projects that each focus on a specific area of career management. Some are already in use and some are much larger and won’t come in until 2025. What will the differences be? We’re introducing an online career management portal where your soldier will

different types of flexible service and how to apply.

The Cook family

be able to browse a list of jobs they’re suited to. It’ll be on their own device at home so you can discuss postings with all the information at your fingertips – because we know who actually makes the decisions! It will also be possible to see what skills your soldier has at their current level and what they need to progress to the next level and beyond, within the Army Talent Framework. How will my soldier’s career benefit? Your soldier will have more choice and they’ll be able to make informed decisions as they will have access to more information. We’re making sure we understand exactly what skills our people have and what each job requires so the right person gets the right job. If my soldier wants to work part-time, how will they go about it? The first place to start is to talk to their line manager and have a read of the JSP 750 policy document which has details about the

What will be the financial implications? Going part-time has lots of implications so it’s best to discuss this with your chain of command after reading the policy. CASTLE isn’t looking at changing any rates of pay, allowances or pensions. We’re exploring how we might encourage people to develop a new skill that the army needs through talent programmes. We’re also asking ourselves what the definition of a specialist is, which sometimes attracts extra pay. How easy will it be to find out what allowances my soldier is entitled to? CASTLE can’t claim credit for it but check out the Discover My Benefits page! It asks you a series of questions about your circumstances and then tells you which allowances you’re eligible for – Will we still have access to a quarter if my soldier works three days a week? Working three days a week would put your soldier in the 40 per cent reduction category of part-time working (already in place under Flexible Service) and yes, you would be. Under CASTLE’s spectrum of service project, your soldier would be able to dial down their level of commitment even further, but we haven’t yet determined what benefits you would be eligible for. Will my soldier still be entitled to the same leave if they reduce their hours? If you work less days, you get less leave, but you also need less to take a full week off. Anecdotally, it works out roughly the same, but you must check with the clerk!

Your soldier can access more information on JSP 750, or search 'Flexible Service' at

52 Army&You spring 2021

Designed by Freepik

“CASTLE is an army careers transformation programme that will modernise careers and maximise talent.” @ArmyandYou

Two birds with one stone? IT'S no secret that being a mobile military family can make it difficult for spouses and partners to maintain a career. In AFF’s 2018 research, conducted with The University of Warwick, you told us that access to childcare was top of your list when it came to gaining employment. So, could it be possible that each problem holds the solution to the other? Well, perhaps… As a childminder, you work for yourself in your own home and provide a childcare service to other working parents in your location. It could be a win-win. If you’re just starting out, be mindful that childminding is heavily regulated, and you do need to follow certain rules to ensure that you’re legally compliant. Requirements and regulatory bodies vary depending upon where you’re living, so do check what’s required for your specific location, either in the UK or overseas. Here’s our top ten of what you’ll need when you set-up: 1. Completion of a home-based childcare course approved by your local council or regulatory body, which covers the early years education framework for your location 2. Registration with the relevant regulatory body: OFSTED in England; the Care Inspectorate in Scotland; the Care and

6. Criminal record checks for you and any other adult living at your address 7. Health check from your GP 8. Public liability insurance 9. Business use insurance on any vehicle used to transport children 10. If you live in a quarter, you’ll need to secure permission from the local commander and Amey to operate a business from that address.

Need a childminder?

Social Services Inspectorate in Wales (CSSIW) and the Health and Social Care Trust (HSCT) in Northern Ireland. To childmind overseas, bear in mind that each country has its own regulatory body, so you'll need to find out who you need to register with in your location 3. Child protection training 4. Food safety and hygiene training 5. Paediatric first aid course

If you’re looking for a childminder, seek recommendations from your local Facebook groups and take a look at childmindinguk. com to find out what you should expect.

Find out more

The website has guides to becoming a childminder in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, information on the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) and you can also find out who your local authority is.

Any questions?

Contact AFF’s employment & training specialist, Jenna Richardson at

CHILD'S PLAY: CAREER CHANGE SUCCESS MILITARY spouse Jasmin has worked in schools and nurseries for ten years. Following a posting from Germany to the UK, she found she had no support to help with childcare so that she could work. After doing lots of research, she decided that childminding was a good an option. “It fits well with military life,” explains Jasmin, “not only can I take my business with me if we’re posted, but it’s flexible. Unlike a nursery, I provide home-fromhome childcare and can adapt beyond my usual opening hours – military life can be so unpredictable, so it’s good to be able to support others.” During the school holidays, Jasmin plans her working days to include her own children, so she doesn’t have the additional cost of holiday childcare. She says: “I only

have small groups, so I can take them on day trips – my own children and my minded ones have lots of fun together.” Despite being qualified in childcare, Jasmin still needed to complete a childminder course, before applying for OFSTED registration, a DBS check, a health declaration and completing both paediatric first aid and safeguarding courses. However, she feels it was well worth it: “It took about three months to get set up, but I absolutely love my job. It allows me to continue working and means I can be there for my own children, which is so important when their father is away so often with the army. I can help other parents to support their child’s development and help other army spouses with getting back into work. I only wish I had started childminding sooner!”

Career change: Army spouse, Jasmin

“It fits well with military life... I only wish I had started sooner.”

spring 2021 Army&You 53

Coworking goes online THE Military Coworking Network’s hubs are bringing people together to work and study all over the UK and overseas. But if lockdown continues, or if there isn’t a hub near you, there are still many benefits of being an online member. Here, the MCN’s communications & marketing manager, Laura Moore, explains further… In an ideal world, we would open a coworking hub on every base, but there’s often not enough demand in smaller bases, or office space available, and we also recognise that many military partners live away from bases for a variety of reasons. The MCN can support you wherever you are by joining us online. Membership is free, it’s easy to join via our website and you’ll receive a host of member benefits.

Sharing experiences

At the heart of coworking is collaboration; our Facebook Military Coworking Community Group is a safe space to ask questions, share information and connect with others to find out how they are building careers and businesses that work around the military lifestyle. There’s always

someone who is willing to share their experience. “When we were posted unexpectedly, I only considered taking a job working from home full-time because I had heard about the Military Coworking Network and love the idea of working from a hub,” says Ellice Marwood.

Online events

As an online member, you can also read or watch reviews from fellow members of the community to find out exactly how each support provider helped them.

We have a busy programme that you can join live or catch up on later. Each month, networking Power Hours feature a guest speaker so you can discover the support they offer. You can also learn more about the MCN and meet other members during monthly Welcome Webinars and join in with ad hoc topics too.

Training courses

Career and business support

Our online directory is a great way of getting your business known to the military community, and beyond. Plus, next time you need a gift or service; you’ll know where to take a look! Join us online for advice, support and inspiration at

There’s a huge amount of career and business support available, usually for free, but often we find that people are confused by who offers what. Our website points you in the right direction depending on what stage of your career or business you’re at.

You’ll find a growing number of courses that allow you to build a career where you won’t have to hand in your notice every time your partner gets a new posting order, from social media management to user experience design and a virtual assistant academy.

Get your business listed

ARE YOU SET FOR CIVVY STREET? It may be imminent or a few years away, but a planned route for the future is always a good option. Consider this – you don’t need a degree to teach work-based skills. How does a starting salary of £32,000 p.a. with 7 weeks holiday plus Bank holidays, a 5-day working week and one of the best pension schemes in the U.K sound? The British Army gives you the best training in the world – you have discipline and give clear and concise information, you walk with authority and talk with a purpose, in short you are ideal Teacher material. Options are part time, evenings or full time.


This fork in the road could be an exceptional Plan A and a superb Plan B whilst helping to shape the futures of school leavers and apprentices in a worthwhile, secure and progressive career. Our 3-week teacher training course can be taken for 3 weeks straight or a week at a time over 12 months. Teaching could be an option for spouses too. Have a look at our website, preparation is everything.




54 Army&You spring 2021 Friars House, Manor House Drive, Coventry, West Midlands CV1 2TE @ArmyandYou

EXPANDING YOUR HORIZONS FOR military spouses and partners, starting a course in a traditional college setting requires more planning than our civilian counterparts. The big question being: Do I have time to finish before my soldier’s posting ends? Nowadays we can study remotely – and best of all, take our studies with us. AFF’s employment & training specialist, Jenna Richardson, talks to a couple of our Forces Families Jobs training providers who offer remote study…


You can take a Level 2 Award in Mental Health Awareness through distance learning with Active IQ, at a discounted rate for military families. Gavin Baxter (pictured) is a business consultant at the company. He says: “We recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant as we recognise the selfless commitment the armed forces and their families make for our country.” Having served as a reservist, Gavin understands the close link between military life and mental health. He adds: “The mental health awareness qualification has been one of the most popular in the last 12 months. Many individuals from the military community

have taken this course for their own selfawareness to support family and friends.” The course enables you to upskill without a tutor, so it’s delivered remotely with eLearning, an eManual and eClinics. All assessments are carried out remotely too, which means you can complete it at time that suits you and from anywhere in the world.

Try something new

Learning a craft and focusing upon something new can give us the time out that we often need. And if it helps us to make our own beautiful items to break up the

magnolia in our quarters, then all the better! Norman Reay, of Reson-8 Creative Training, explains: “We offer two different courses: an introduction to resin and resin art, and a three-day resin installers' workshop, both of which are available to complete beginners.” Being the son of a serviceman, Norman understands the difficulties that military families face. “Our courses are flexible and we're very comfortable to work alongside candidates whose schedules differ from our own.” he adds. “We have a studio in Ellesmere Port, which is wheelchair accessible, but we also offer the beginners’ course online which enables military families to join from further afield.” In addition, if a group of you are interested in the three-day course but cannot get to the studio, Norman is happy to chat about travelling to your location to deliver the course. The team is available to offer advice and assistance after you have completed your training too, so you have ongoing support. l To search for your next course, go to

Studying in Scotland DID you know, in Scotland, universities and further education colleges are working closely together to better support the military community? AFF’s education and training specialist, Jenna Richardson, met (virtually) with Jim Castle from Glasgow Caledonian University to chat about the HeFe Veterans and Armed Forces Champions Network (HeFeVCN), an organisation that brings together all the universities and further education colleges who operate in the veterans and forces family space. “All the universities and most colleges have signed the Armed Forces Covenant and many also have a forces champion in place,” explains Jim. “The purpose of the HeFeVCN is to co-ordinate the approach to the

wider military family. Our aim is to maximise the potential of all members of the forces family via a holistic educational pathway. We’d like to extend it across the whole of the UK.”

Case study

Service child Lucy has lived in lots of locations in the UK and overseas. When it came to applying for student finance, she applied to Student Finance England (SFE) as that’s where she was living. But what Lucy didn’t realise, until she contacted AFF, was that as her father lived in Scotland at the time of joining the army, she should have applied to the Students Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) for her funding. As Lucy had chosen to go to a university north of the border,

Picture: Matthew Feeney on Unsplash

she was also eligible to be assessed as a Scottish ‘home’ student – which meant that she could receive free tuition. She says: “Using her contacts at the HeFeVCN, Jenna put me in touch with the armed forces champion at my university. "Our champion was able to work with SAAS to transfer my existing funding from SFE to SAAS, who will now pay my

tuition fees and give me my maintenance grant. "This has made such a difference; I’m so relieved that I will end university with a good degree and very little student debt, which is amazing!” If you think Lucy's situation may be similar to your own or someone in your service family, email Jenna at employment@ spring 2021 Army&You 55

If you have any questions, please use our chat feature on the home page to get in touch with one of our pharmacists. We can check whether the product you are interested in will interact with any of the medications you are taking or interact with any conditions you may be suffering from.

Waste not, want not

Sustainability is a hot topic for everyone but how can we as a military community do our bit to reduce waste? Culinary queen AJ Sharp has been putting things to the test…

You can follow AJ @ajsharpflavourfanatic on Instagram


’VE FOUND the simplest way to reduce our family food waste is to buy less in the first place. If you do a large weekly shop, start monitoring how much of it gets eaten and what you have to throw away at the end of the week. The easiest way is to shop locally. The food miles are fewer, the quality is often higher and it can be cheaper too. We did a trial for a month to shop locally as much as possible. We reduced our supermarket shops to just one per month. We arranged for a local dairy to deliver bread, milk, eggs, cheese and yogurt (£15 per week) and a local fruit and veg box delivery (£15pw). The local butcher did a family meat box for £25 per week. That’s all the essentials for just £55 a week. We did need a few other odds and ends like wine – of course – and I can’t live without

chocolate Hobnobs. But we saved so much time, reduced waste and packaging, ate everything we ordered, consumed more wholesome food and saved money in the process. We haven’t looked back since. There are other ways to keep your bills low and help the environment. Old veggies are perfect in soup or blended into pasta sauce – you can even throw limp lettuce in. If they’re

well past the sell by date then consider using a portable compost bin, which you can take with you when you’re posted. The biggest energy saver, and it takes a bit of organisation – which I’m working on! – is to cook several things once your military oven is up to temperature. For example, save the mixture and bake that cake whilst the evening meal is cooking.

SOLDIERS SAVOUR ‘STEAK’ OF THE ART SCHEME SSgt Michelle Patterson completed a 22-year career with the Royal Military Police before taking a Full Time Reserve Service role as the Battalion Quarter Master Sergeant of 210 BTY, 103 REGT RA, at Wolverhampton. Last year she applied to the charitable side of bakery chain Greggs – the Greggs Foundation – to nominate local soldiers for any unsold food donations. Michelle explains: “I noticed that soldiers were coming straight from their daytime employment to train as reserve soldiers, often finishing their day shift to come to drill nights. “I realised that if I collected any unsold food from Greggs, we would be saving food waste

and have happy soldiers who could fulfil their duties with a full tummy,” she adds. “Winners all round.” Michelle suggested the name ‘Food for Forces’ which Greggs liked. To make sure she was compliant, she completed a food handling course, and

the Army Reserve Centre underwent a hygiene inspection by a member of the Greggs team to ensure sufficient refrigeration, which 210 BTY passed with flying colours. “I collect the food in my own vehicle using the military cool bag on drill night and it’s a

lovely morale boost,” says Michelle. “As a thank you, we invited the two Greggs managers Lindsay and Jenny to our Christmas bash. “It’s been a nice way for the local community and the military to come together in harmony.” spring 2021 Army&You 57


Feeding my army

ECA Lyne-Pirkis is best known for her Welsh language cookery show Becws on S4C and as a contestant on The Great British Bake Off. As a military wife too, she loves singing with her local Military Wives Choir and is currently studying to become a registered dietician, combining two of her interests: nutrition and exercise. In her latest book, Feeding My Army, Beca showcases delicious food designed to keep us all going. From wartime hardship meals to fayre fit for a prime minister, recipes are inspired by her family’s experience of more than a hundred years of army life. The celebrated chef also explores how military food has been influenced by different cultures around the world in times of war and peace. She gets ideas from her husband Matt’s store of army food anecdotes and delves into family recipe books, cooking up a storm of dishes, old and new. She also draws inspiration from three remarkable women in her life who lived through the Second World War – her grandmothers, Nan and Mam-gu, along with Aunty ’Rene, who fell in love and married a wartime American sailor. They’ve all had a huge influence on her in the kitchen. Beca explains how each recipe featured in her latest book has its own story and each chapter its own theme... We have three


Chapter 1 – Make Do and Dig for Victory “Rationing was strict and yet they managed to find ways around all the rules to cook delicious meals… some of the recipes are ones that should remain buried in history, but many have stood the test of time and are still cooked today.”

copies of Beca’s Feeding My Army to give away! To win a copy, see page 3 for entry details.

Chapter 2 – Cookhouse Classics “The same cook might rustle up a weekend brunch, a midweek apple crumble or turn their hand to cooking up a storm for mess functions or regimental dinners.” Chapter 3 – Rations Reinvented “I’ve taken inspiration from some classic ration pack menus as well as what the

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awesome chefs manage to make while out in a tent in all conditions, and hopefully these recipes will bring joy and comfort to you and plenty of energy to keep you going.”

Chapter 4 – Keep the Home Fires Burning “We often talk about what dad might be eating, and the girls will request things that remind them of him – it’s little things like this that make being apart from each other easier to manage.” Chapter 5 – Solo Suppers “It made me think about others who might have fallen into the same rut as me – not just military spouses and partners, but

anyone who, for whatever reason, is cooking for one.” Chapter 6 – Postings abroad “A varied selection of recipes from across the globe that will hopefully inspire you to try something new.” Chapter 7 – Homecoming “Having him home is a celebration and usually involves a big social gathering with the family, so this chapter is full of dishes to enjoy around the table as a family again, sharing stories, laughing and getting to know each other after months apart.” Chapter 8 – In Memoriam “I felt strongly that I should end the book with something to remember those who we have lost along the way and to honour them and the friendships that keep us going.” @ArmyandYou

BECA’S HASH RECIPE This is a great way of using up leftovers and keeping washingup to a minimum. Corned beef hash is a forces’ classic that’s on the menu in many cookhouses. It needs minimal ingredients but is a tasty and filling meal. You only need one pan and it’s quick to make – a great one to have in your armoury if you’re waiting to be posted and have limited kitchen kit. Ingredients (serves 4) l 2½ tbsp olive oil l 3-4 old potatoes, peeled and diced into 2cm cubes l 1 large or 2 small onions l 1 green pepper l 8-10 smoky bacon rashers or leftover roast beef, chopped into 2cm cubes l 2-3 garlic cloves, crushed l salt and pepper l 4 eggs

Method (prep: 15 minutes, cook: 20 minutes) Parboil the potatoes in boiling salted water for five minutes, drain and keep to one side. Roughly chop the onions and peppers into 2cm pieces and cut the bacon to roughly the same size. Heat 1½ tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan, add the onions and peppers and sauté for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until they start to soften. Add the parboiled potatoes and continue to sauté until the potatoes and vegetables start to catch some colour and crisp up. Add the bacon and crushed garlic and cook until the bacon is crispy. Season with the salt and pepper and keep warm while frying the eggs. Heat the remaining oil in a

frying pan and fry the eggs until crispy underneath and with a runny yolk.

Divide between four plates, add an egg on top, with plenty of tomato ketchup on the side.


spring 2021 Army&You 59




OU want to protect your family. But who will protect you? Many of you will recognise the importance of Wills in helping to protect your loved ones after you’re gone. But having a Power of Attorney in place is just as important, as it helps to protect you. It’s rather like a comforting “insurance” policy, as it enables you to appoint someone who you trust to deal with your matters if you lose the physical ability or mental capacity to manage your own affairs due to injury or illness. We understand that it’s not always easy to think about your future if anything should happen to you, but Lucy Wood from B P Collins, explains the significant benefits of having Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPA) and the

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key things to consider before deciding who to choose. What are Powers of Attorney? LPA allow you to choose someone who you trust to act on your behalf and make financial or welfare decisions if you are unable to do so. What could happen if I don’t have a LPA? If you lose capacity to manage your own affairs, and you do not have an LPA (or an Enduring Power of Attorney) in place, someone will need to obtain a Court of Protection Order (COPO) to be appointed as your “Deputy” (the Court of Protection’s version of an attorney). The person appointed as Deputy might not be the incapacitated person’s first choice, in fact they could be someone with no family connections at all. The Deputy application is a long and expensive process, there will

also be ongoing fees paid to the Court, for example the annual insurance bond, and there are extensive reporting obligations to the Court on an ongoing basis. The Deputy can only do what they have applied for under the COPO and may need to apply to court again for other decisions, so the process is more rigid, and it can take much longer for decisions to be reached. It may work in some situations, but can add stress and burden on the Deputy, which could be avoided by creating an LPA. How can B P Collins help? l Although LPAs can be created without one, a solicitor can fully explain the pros and cons and what an LPA means for the donor. l They can make sure that the donor has capacity to understand the process and that there is no undue influence involved in the making of the LPA.

l Solicitors are good sounding boards when the client is deciding who to appoint and how they can act. l Solicitors can add an extra safeguard by storing the LPA until needed, as it is a live document once registered with the Office of Public Guardian. l Solicitors can be appointed as attorneys too, in more complex situations. l All advice can be conducted over a video or phone call to help you create an LPA. If you’d like to discuss Lasting Powers of Attorney or any other issues around end of life planning, such as Wills, trusts and probate, please contact Lucy Wood on 01753 889995 or email @ArmyandYou


Marvel at Marchwood


APTAIN Si Macey (RLC), the unit welfare officer from 17 Port and Maritime Regt at Marchwood, Hampshire, explains how a grant has helped to transform an under-used building into a vibrant social hub... “During lockdown we managed to turn our community centre into a facility that far exceeds what it was 12 months ago,” he says. “I came into this job in September 2019 and noticed straight away that it was in need of a drastic overhaul; it wasn’t very inviting and apart from a once-a-week coffee morning for families, there weren’t many activities on offer.” Si made an application through the Armed Forces Covenant Fund, which can offer a maximum of £20,000 to a project, and, in February last year, he was successful. “On the application, we outlined three key areas: Healthy Minds, Hear Me and Unity,” explains Si. “We proposed a range of exciting initiatives under these themes including cookery, a community garden, youth activities, games and film nights as well as youth gaming experiences, and a music room to give children the opportunity to play instruments.”

“Before, we had a messy play class which was just for young toddlers. We didn’t provide anything for the older children. The new games room is an ideal space for older kids to come in for an hour to play table tennis, games machines or just chill and watch a film on the new projector. The arcade machine has 2,000 games on the hard drive and the PS4 has the usual football and car racing games. The messy playroom can now be used during the day to isolate the mess,” he says.

Team effort

The reaction from the community has been incredibly positive and everyone has been very impressed. “It’s been something that has been needed for a long time and I think I just came in at the right time,” says Si, explaining how the three themes will give families a greater opportunity to come together. “We will hold bingo nights, movie nights for the kids and music classes and youth clubs on a Friday. “I’ve got a few volunteers who are spouses, who want to offer their help which I feel will be a great success. We also have the Military Wives Choir for the New Forest area practising once a week and Weight

Once the grant was approved, Si got to work with colleagues SSgt Taff Jones, Sgt Baz Slator and Cpl Cox. “I was the money man and procured all materials, so Wickes, B&Q, Tool Station and Screwfix were regularly frequented! The team was happy to help and offer ideas along the way. We completed all wallpapering, painting, laid laminate flooring, drilled, tiled and put everything else up onto the walls and took away four truckloads of rubbish throughout the project,” explains Si. Si has made sure the new community centre offers something for all ages to get involved in and have some fun.

a military If you know a person with to improve hard connection who works tell us about them your local community, k and read more rg.u aff.o – email editor@ .uk dyo yan stories at arm

Uniting utility

The Marchwood Community Hub wins a signed print from The War Poppy Collection by artist Jacqueline Hurley of POSH Original Art. Jacqueline’s collection is her personal thank you and tribute to our armed forces, veterans and their families; and a commemoration of those who have fallen or been injured in past campaigns. She paints to evoke emotion, reflection and remembrance in her unique and expressive style. To view the collection, visit

Watchers and the New Forest Dance Academy hire the hall too, so we get some good interaction from the local community.” The project has been a real team effort, as Si explains: “All the vinyl wall stickers were provided by Cpl A Brighouse who has his own vinyl printing business. “We designed a seating area in the new garden that’s a real sun trap and the planters will be used to grow some simple vegetables, with the addition of a greenhouse. We have a soldier who is offering free lessons on the ukulele and a music teacher offering her services to conduct piano lessons, once contact is allowed to commence again.” Find out more about how to secure a grant for your project at & spring 2021 Army&You 61

#OurArmyFamily Whether married or single, parent, partner, cousin or child of a soldier, we want you to tell us all about your army family. Follow @ArmyandYou on social media for more stories Army life is definitely unique. There are so many things that only a military family will ever experience and understand. LEARNING TO COPE We’ve lived in five different postings around the UK. We’ve made some fantastic memories and friends who’ve become family for life – yet we’ve had some really trying times too. As a family, coping is what we do best. We learned from a very early stage of our married life that we can survive anything.

Meet the Bailey family: Christy and Adam, who’ve been married for 13 years, and daughters Grace (13) and Evie (10). The Baileys renewed their vows on their ten-year anniversary, which gave them the less rushed, well-planned dream beach wedding they desired…

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Adam was injured by an IED in Afghanistan in 2009 – two days after Grace’s first birthday. This led to six months of treatment in hospital, a one-year (away from home) rehabilitation at Headley Court and little did we know, a further threeyear battle with PTSD that hit hard in Kinloss, four years after the injury. FAMILY SUPPORT We find living away from relatives emotional at times, especially my mum as she’s

“We learned from a very early stage of our married life that we can survive anything.”

very poorly. It’s hard when Adam goes away too, but we always put on our stiff upper lip and make the best we can of the situation. WHERE WE LIVE Our favourite posting was our last one, it was so hard to move away from the place we called home. However, we can now be excited that when our military journey ends, Ripon will become our forever home. I’ve embraced each posting with my childcare or photography profession; but this time, I’ve been so lucky to land my goal job as a teaching assistant in a beautiful local school, just five weeks after moving down south and during the pandemic! ADVICE TO OTHERS If I could send any helpful advice to new families, it would be to enjoy every single opportunity, explore your surroundings to the full and know that you don’t have to live surrounded by magnolia – get the paint out – and make life colourful! &



A POSTCARD FROM... Zoë, soldier Andrew and Rory, who is four, on forces life by the fjords

How long have you been an army family?

Andrew has been serving since 2005. I met him in December 2015 and by September 2016 we were married with our gorgeous little boy on the way.

Time in Norway?

15 months and we’re loving every moment of it. We’ve been fortunate to receive an extension until 2022, which is super exciting as we’ve spent most of our time here during the pandemic. There are so many places that we want to explore.

How many other military families live there?

There are currently around thirty other families – a mixture of ranks from all services. The communities are small compared to other locations.

What’s your quarter like?

We’re absolutely spoilt as it’s in a great location, not far from the fjord and so spacious inside. We have wood burners, which warm the whole house – a bonus for the cold winters.

Are there any employment/ training opportunities?

There are a few on base, for example working in the shop or working within the National Support Elements. Some spouses have found jobs working in local schools. I’ve been very lucky to have the role of Community Liaison Officer for the British community here.

What about schools/ childcare?

There are two local schools, which many children from the community attend. Some families including myself have

chosen to put their children into a Norwegian barnehage (nursery) – all of the education systems are outstanding here.

Where do army families get together?

We have community houses where the British military are able to meet up, host events and socialise. There’s also a bar on camp, which holds a weekly coffee morning and different events. There are various clubs on base where we can join and integrate with other nations including a friendship club and a hiking group.

How do you find the cost of living there?

The first time I went to do the food shopping I was so shocked at how much things cost. After being here for more than a year I’m finally used to the prices.

What are the best and worst things about living in Norway?

The best things are the amazing walks and scenery. Every morning, whether it’s sunny or raining, it’s always beautiful looking across the fjord at the mountains. I’m yet to find a worst thing about Norway – I absolutely love the culture here and they seem to have everything just right when it comes to family life.

Would you recommend it as a family posting?

I would 100 per cent recommend this posting to anyone who loves the outdoors and exploring. There are so many things to do and beautiful sights to see. I’m going to miss Norway so much when we leave – so I’m making the most of these next 18 months! &

Want to share your experiences of army family life? Get in touch by emailing

spring 2021 Army&You 63



The Paperchains project

HE idea for Paperchains came from author A.G. Smith, whose groundbreaking work in prisons has been highlighted by Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire and BBC Radio 4’s PM. It was created following the Prime Minister’s announcement of the first UK lockdown as a means of providing a creative outlet to help people cope. The platform, co-founded by David Kendall, allows those who have experience of prison, homelessness or the armed forces to share poetry, art, fiction or factual journal entries. During the second UK lockdown, Paperchains turned the spotlight on the work of young people, including armed forces families. Army&You is delighted to share the reactions of service young people, whose winning entries captured what the pandemic and lockdown meant to them…

Amelia Pasquale (15)

Isabella Gill (10)

My military family: Dad Tony, serving with The Royal Tank Regiment, mum Grace, brother Reuben and dog Dillan.

My military family: Dad James is in the RAMC, mum Emma – a criminal lawyer, little sister Hetty and cat Harri.

Location: Salisbury

Location: Kingston.

Amelia says: “My poem highlighted a theme which feels like a taboo subject, mental ill health and suicide in young people, and the rise of it during the pandemic. I’ve struggled with my own mental health and have become increasingly aware of the lack of funding to organisations who help young people. Military children can experience difficulties accessing professional help because of long wait times and having to start the referral process again, with each move. “This piece is very personal. People who have the feelings described in the poem often

Isabella says: “I wrote a poem about the things I love about books during the first lockdown. My favourite things are reading, history and ballet and during lockdown it made me think about how important reading is, so that you can escape and go on an adventure even if I can’t go anywhere in real life. “I wrote about how I was feeling, and which books I’d been thinking about or reading at that time. However, if I wrote it now, it might be different because of the books I’ve been reading more recently. It could be a changing poem for anyone at any moment, in any place and no matter what kind of books you like. I feel proud that something I wrote for fun has won a prize. I’m even more pleased that Cressida Cowell read it and liked it because she’s an author that I look up to and I love reading her books.”

feel alone but there are so many people experiencing mental ill health and intrusive, suicidal thoughts. It’s so important to reach out and not suffer in silence. I hope that by sharing my experiences, it will help others. “I’m extremely grateful to win as I love writing – it’s an important part of my life. I’m thrilled to be part of an exhibition at The Hay Festival, as well as having my poem published. Cambridge University Press also offered a prize, which was exciting.”

Connor Grace (11) My military family: Dad Liam, who is in the REME, mum Louise, a lecturer at Fife College, and black Labrador Bonnie (3). Location: Leuchars. Connor says: “I wrote my poem Lockdown Deliveries because COVID-19 meant that I was at home for a long time. My mum and dad had to work from home, and I had to learn from home. We didn’t go to the shops, so my mum and dad would order

64 Army&You spring 2021

everything on the internet. The doorbell would ring and we’d all rush to see who the delivery was for, even Bonnie. One day the delivery wasn’t for my mum, dad or me, it was for Bonnie. That’s where I got my

inspiration for the poem. The poem reminds me of a strange time of everything being online. I wasn’t worried as I felt safe and we were all healthy. “It was great getting back to normal, playing football and going to school, but I still enjoy getting a parcel delivered. “I was really shocked that I’d won the silver award. “I’m very happy that it made the people at Paperchains laugh, and I hope it makes other people smile too.”


Elene Chkhetiani (10)

James Lesinski (16)

My military family: Dad David, who is a member of the Royal College of Defence Studies, mum Natia and twin brother Oto.

My military family: Dad Neil is in the army, brother Noah (14), sister Isabelle (10), two dogs, Steve and Peggy, and pony, Bonnie.

Location: London, originally from Georgia. Elene says: “There are not many things you can do in lockdown. I decided to draw. It makes me feel good and it’s the easiest way for me to express my feelings. “When mum told me about the Paperchains project, I immediately thought of the pandemic that kept us away from our family and friends, the demonstrations against racism, and the California fires. “I knew that it should be a black and white drawing, as 2020 had no colours. I also

knew that it should not be a perfect drawing, but rough, obscure, not nice and not beautiful. That is how I felt in 2020. I am proud of it. I can draw much nicer and more beautiful drawings, but this piece is a part of me and reflects how I and other children of my age saw 2020. “It feels like I achieved something. Paperchains enables people to be heard, motivates free expression through the perfect means of communication, art. “I’ve never been the winner of such a big project. I like how happy and how proud my family are – it doubles my joy.”

Location: Lincolnshire. James says: “While studying for my GCSEs I became very stressed at all the work and pressure to revise for my exams. I was part of a creative writing club at school and decided to write a poem about exam stress. When lockdown came and my exams were cancelled, I decided to amend the poem, describing how it felt to have your exams cancelled. “I was mainly inspired by my own feelings of stress but also my friends as we all felt like we’d been cheated when our exams were cancelled. I drew on that when writing the poem.

“To me, this piece acts as a voice for all young people whose exams were cancelled after months of stress over revision, and not being able to show our efforts. I hope it acts as consolation for the others who felt as I did. “I was completely shocked to be a winner. I didn’t expect anything as amazing as this to happen and I’m glad my poem has moved so many.”

To see the winning entries, go to Paperchains – – has become an acclaimed success drawing support from the likes of Anthony Horowitz, Martina Cole, Man Booker author Stephen Kelman, Cressida Cowell, Dragon’s Den’s Piers Linney and many more. In 2021 Paperchains will be an event at Hay Festival, a book and a touring theatre production. For more information on its creator, A.G. Smith, visit


Service pupil Rory from Coombe Dean School in Plymouth


F THERE’S a young person in your family or perhaps you teach service children, then it’s worth taking a look at Little Troopers’ fantastic new secondary school resource hub to help support service children aged 11-16. Created alongside teachers, forces families and behavioural experts, the resources offer lots of practical ideas to get your children talking about forces life in school and can be used by any secondary school – whether they have one service child or 200. The resource hub can be downloaded for lesson plans, activity templates and teacher training information. As well as one-off military-themed lessons and activity templates covering areas such as creative writing, sports activities, events, media skills and community engagement, the Forces Life Club pack is also available on the hub. In addition, a military child wellbeing

course will be launching soon. The sixsession course will provide targeted early intervention and wellbeing support for all military children, not just those in crisis, and covers the topics of separation, deployment, house moves and living

abroad, as well as personal themes of belonging, identity and mindfulness. There’s also a primary school resource pack and wellbeing course on its website. To download any items or find out more, visit

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Click the giveaways tab at Entries close on 18 April 2021 One entry per household per giveaway. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names and T&Cs are published on the Army&You website.


If you’re looking for breath-taking scenery and a relaxing setting, look no further than this stunning hotel in the heart of the Lake District. It sits on the north shore of Derwentwater and is the perfect base to explore the surrounding walking trails, see nearby Keswick or just kick back and relax.

One lucky reader can win a two-night B&B stay for two at the Derwentwater Hotel, plus dinner on the first night – a break worth around £300. If you aren’t lucky enough to win, you can always book your own two-night getaway from £42 per person per night. For more info on this fabulous retreat, visit This prize is open to serving regular and reserve families only.

Share your life stories Imagine having a record of your family’s history for future generations to treasure. Life Story Share does just that. It’s an online service which provides an opportunity to capture your family’s untold stories by answering thoughtfully chosen questions designed to bring memories to the surface.

Two readers will win a Life Story Share package worth £49 each, which includes eight sets of questions sent via email to answer, an individuallydesigned front cover and a luxury folder to keep your story in. For more, see

Happy feet

Fit and fabulous

Light fantastic

When blisters strike, and stopping isn’t an option, you need decent kit and specialist advice. Blisterhelp provides top-quality blister prevention, treatment and footcare products from qualified professionals – they even provide advice for the armed forces to help with the unique struggles that soldiers’ feet have to cope with. They are experts at keeping you on the move and your feet blister and pain-free.

Are you looking to improve your fitness levels? Emma Jones Fitness – emmajonesfitness. com – runs virtual classes designed to get you feeling stronger and closer to your goals. Classes are fun and energetic and military spouse Emma trains alongside you, demonstrating variations and helping you get the most out of every move. She is a fully qualified instructor, so no matter what your fitness level, you’ll be in good hands!

These pretty, handcrafted, decorative light-up bottles and a wide range of glassware can be personalised with any cap badge and will make a thoughtful gift for a serving soldier or veteran. Ideal as memorable gifts for the home, or stylish table decorations for armed forces functions, there are a variety of bottle styles or glassware sets, including decanters, to choose from at

One lucky reader could win two large blister kits, a pair of ArmaSkin liner socks, a pair of Darn Tough socks and a one-hour call with a qualified podiatrist worth a whopping £674.

Two lucky winners will each win a £40 gift voucher to spend on any item in TheCraftyBlackDog online shop, including free personalisation.

Three lucky readers can win a one-month membership worth £25, which includes unlimited classes, plus the option to join the Facebook group and use the catch-up library.

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LEARN • CREATE • EXPLORE WHERE WILL YOUR FUTURE TAKE YOU? Top quality boarding provision with superb pastoral care Pick-ups available from Bath Spa Train Station Rated ‘excellent’ in all areas of our latest Inspection Report Over 100 co-curricular activities available Reputation for sport and links with professional clubs Inspirational music, drama and creative arts


OUTSTANDING Boarding and Flexi Boarding in a top Surrey school for boys and girls aged 7-18. Full boarding only £5,250 per term. Visit our Virtual Open Morning.

Up to 20% discount for boarding Forces families (limited availability)

T. 01225 734210 E. An Independent Co-educational Boarding & Day School for pupils aged 9 months - 18 years

Gatton Park, Reigate, Surrey RH2 0TD Tel: 01737 649000


Banish the beige

Creature comfort

Still sporting boring flooring? Shut the front door! Red Candy is a one-stop shop for fun decor and quirky gifting, ideal for those who don’t take life too seriously.

If you’re looking for a way to give your children the courage they need to adapt to new situations, Moving: Teddy’s Journey by military wife Zara Johnston and illustrated by Dana Neuman, could be the perfect bedtime story book. Saying goodbye is never easy for military children, but giving them a character they can relate to, in an uplifting and inspiring way, can help them to adapt to new challenges a little better.

If you aren’t the type to settle for a beige life, why settle for a beige doormat? These a-doorable mats are just the thing to add a massive smile to your entranceway and make you feel at home… while politely suggesting your guests get their shoes off!

Five lucky readers will win a doormat of their choice from Red Candy’s bright and cheerful range. See

Minimise stress

Army wife, therapist, coach and author Cat Williams has launched a new online course to help anyone who is feeling stressed, anxious or overwhelmed. Its ten short modules teach you, via videos and exercises, how to remain calm and empowered so that you have all the strategies and knowledge you need to cope with anything!

Two winners will receive a signed copy of the book, A3 Teddy poster and a Teddy’s Journey Badge.

Readers can access Cat’s free Ultimate Confidence self-hypnosis download and free Getting Back on Track webinar via One lucky reader will win life-long access to the Minimising Stress & Maximising Resilience course worth £97.

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ing Enter our giveaway to win a copy of Fish and a Read Force scrapbook. See page three for entry rules. Already read it? Tell us your thoughts @ArmyandYou

A VERY FISHY TALE In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, our forces youngsters share their views on Brendan Kearney’s Fish: A tale about ridding the ocean of plastic pollution...

Published by DK

FLORENCE NEWBON (3) Florence really enjoyed this book. The illustrations were clear which helped her to understand the story as we went through it. She loved pointing at the pictures and describing what was happening. She understood the impact and importance of recycling and disposing of rubbish relevant to her age. She enjoyed the book but said it made her feel sad as the rubbish is harming all the fish.

JOSEPH LOMBARDI (5) This book made me laugh a lot. I love the pictures and the story is about a fish. This is my new favourite story book.

MIA-LILY MCAULAY (4) Mia-Lily really loved the book. It was a great insight as to how bad the pollution in the world and sea actually is. It was very good at reminding us all to recycle wherever we can and what damage it can cause to plants and animals if we don’t. The book’s pictures are great, and Mia-Lily was really focused and drawn into the story. Fish was a great read and has become one of her favourites.

READING Force is the free shared reading initiative for forces families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or via video call if separated from your soldier. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill in with your thoughts, letters, drawings and photographs. It’s a fun way to keep connected. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE, or register online at

d If your children woul s for like to review book email the A&Y Book Club, hattie@readingforce.o d ages with their names an

World Book Day – 4th March 2021! Cut out the £1 book token below and get one of the 12 brilliant World Book Day £1 books for free! Or if you like, you can use it to get £1 off any full price or audiobook (that costs over £2.99). Tokens are redeemable between February 18th and March 28th 2021 and participating bookstores will honour the tokens beyond this date while stocks last. To see which stores near you are participating, visit: For more information and our full terms & conditions, visit World Book Day is a brilliant opportunity for everyone to celebrate the joy of shared reading. So this year, Show Your Shares! Show us how you enjoy reading together. Every week during World Book Day month, we’ll award prizes for the best story shares with a different theme each week. Find out how to enter at

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Welcome to Army&You’s BlogSpot. Write your thoughts about army life and send them to

Our journey By Rosie, @aaronswifeyx I met my husband in 2014. We got married the following year and moved into first our quarter. I instantly made the house our home and was so excited for the future. This was our first home together, so I was really happy. The process wasn’t stressful and I’m really glad we got the house we did. Our lives changed so much when our daughter was born a year after and at this point my husband was also going on exercise a lot, so he didn’t see much of her. He tried to be there for all her firsts, but I was lucky to be close to my family for support. My husband moved camp, but we were able to stay in the quarter. We were

very thankful as there were people near us who had moved so many times! I never found moving too hard but it’s the friends you leave behind part that really hits you. We made the decision to move out of quarters as my husband was going to be deployed to Afghanistan for nine months. For the sake of our daughter, he decided he wanted to be there for her, so he’s now a reservist. Fast forward to 2020 and after years of saving and hard work we’ve moved into our forever home. If it wasn’t for the army, I’d never have met my husband and we would never be where we are today. The army made us realise we don’t want to be without each other. I’ll always be proud of him serving and all that he’s sacrificed.

High and lows of life in the ‘junior ranks’ By Alex, aged nine I live with my mum, dad and brother Ollie who’s eight. My dad is in the REME and this means that we usually have to move every two or three years. I’ve lived in five different houses and been to four schools. Moving is scary because I worry that I won’t make new friends at school and I miss my old ones. At the moment we’re in Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire. I like it here and we’re

Big fan of blogs?

lucky as my grandad works in the army in Catterick, so he lives near us with my nana and auntie. My great nana and my cousin live round the corner as well. I don’t like it when my friends move because it makes me sad, my best friend Mikey has just moved away and I miss him. My dad goes away quite a lot. I miss him but he video calls me and my brother when he can. When dad’s away, mum lets me sleep in her bed sometimes. When he comes back it’s very exciting as he brings me presents from where he’s been! Alex (left) with his parents and brother, Ollie spring 2021 Army&You 69

Paws for thought... a dog’s view The worst thing about army life is when my friends leave. Sometimes when they’ve left for a new camp and we walk past their old house I will stop, sit and look sad.

By Duke, @duke_of_dorset Being an army dog isn’t that bad. When dad is away mum will let me sleep on her bed so she doesn’t get scared.

I then refuse to move till they come out and play; or until mum gives me some chicken.

Normally I’m only allowed in their room every now and again. She also gives me extra cuddles and walks, so that’s a pretty good deal. And when dad finally comes home, I get extra treats and cuddles off him too. You better believe he never goes away without bringing me back a treat. We’re lucky to live near the beach which is 100 per cent my most favourite place to be. We also live


It’s okay though as my best friend lives across the road. Her name is Lola, and I love her so much that we see her practically every day. I think she and her human sisters are my pack! We run around the woods together causing chaos while our mums try to stop us running in every single muddy puddle we find. right near the range; and I’m only a little bit frightened of the noise the tanks and guns make... but I act brave, so no one knows I’m

scared. I even bark at the tanks sometimes to let them know that I’m in charge, and if I need to, I can protect my mum from them.

Being an army dog is great… the only thing that would make it better would be more treats!

Thanks to the community

By Jodie, @themilwife When I first started my Instagram account, I never thought it would go anywhere. I thought I could just anonymously post about the highs and lows of being a military wife struggling with postnatal depression and anxiety. Never in a million years did I think that I would make amazing new friends and build the fantastic community that I now have, but I did. Until I found you all I never really thought about how the community plays such a big role in our lives, especially when we’re moving around so much. I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard the phrase “well you knew what you were signing up for when you married him” but having the support

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from everyone really got me through the nights alone with a new baby and a new business. I’ve learnt we’re all in the same boat and having someone who knows how you feel about situations that only military life brings is amazing. I can’t thank you all enough. I’d probably still be a blubbering stressed out mess without some of the kind messages and words of encouragement I’ve had during the first months as a mumma of two. And my business, Willow Tree Aromas, would be nothing without you all. I encourage you all to follow your dreams too, whether that be a small business like mine or a career of your own. No matter where you are or how many times

you move around this crazy world, you can do it! So thank you and remember if you need a little chat or a rant, I’m just a message away.

Jodie wins a £35 voucher to spend at Gillian Jones Designs — — for our best blog. Artist Gillian, a former Royal Navy officer and military spouse, specialises in vibrant and contemporary military art and design. If you can’t quite find what you’re looking for, she’s also happy to create bespoke commissions. Follow @gillianjonesdesigns on Instagram and Facebook, and @GillAJones on Twitter. @ArmyandYou

Tailored fees available for serving members of the Armed Forces

Finborough School The best preparation for life Finborough is an independent day and boarding school for children ages 2 to 18 located in the beautiful rolling Suffolk countryside. Our recently renovated boarding house is a wonderful place to be, with great common rooms and spacious ensuite bedrooms. Our students make exceptional progress, learning in incredible facilities including our brand new Science and Art building with outstanding teachers. Boarders also have full access to our extensive grounds and sports facilities including our state-of-the-art gym, sports hall, all weather pitch and tennis courts. Our holistic approach builds great character to support perpetual learning and life success. Our boarding family of staff and students would love to welcome you to their school home to share with you why Finborough is such a great place to live and learn.

Come and find out why we are excellent! To arrange a personal visit and meet our amazing pupils and staff, please contact Kate Walmsley on 01449 773600 or email

01449 773600 • Finborough School, The Hall, Great Finborough, Stowmarket, Suffolk, IP14 3EF Facebook @finboroughschool • Twitter @FinboroughSch / @HeadFinborough

FOR SOLDIERS FOR VETERANS FOR FAMILIES FOR LIFE As the Army’s national charity, we’re here for the Army family when you need us. In a typical year, we help 70,000 people by awarding grants to individuals and 89 other charities and organisations that support the Army family. Our support is here for soldiers and their families at the start of their Army career and continues for life - long after service has ended.






These are just some of the 89 charities and organisations we supported in the 2019-20 financial year:

ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a registered charity in England and Wales (1146420) & Scotland (SC039189). Registered as a company limited by guarantee in England & Wales (07974609). Registered Office: Mountbarrow House, 12 Elizabeth Street, London, SW1W 9RB.