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Army&You Autumn 2017

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

PASSION INTO PROFIT Meet the entrepreneurs building brilliant businesses SPOTLIGHT



Military Wives Choirs keep in tune with the Service community GIVEAWAYS




Al’s will didn’t just help him overcome the loss of both legs while serving as a paratrooper in Northern Ireland. It spurred him on to become Britain’s first double amputee skydiver, joining the Red Devils and winning six gold medals at the World Championships – all while competing against able-bodied competitors.

Your Will could provide the funding to help support people like Al and their families when they need it most. By leaving a legacy to ABF The Soldiers’ Charity you can help us give something back to those who have given so much.

Find out more about leaving a gift in your Will. Call Georgia Outteridge on 020 7811 3964 or email For Soldiers. For Veterans. For Families. For Life. ABF The Soldiers’ Charity is a registered charity in England and Wales (1146420) and Scotland (039189). Registered as a company limited by guarantee in England and Wales (07974609). Registered Office: Mountbarrow House,12 Elizabeth Street, London SW1W 9RB.


Army&You {for everyone with a soldier in their life}

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 //

Family business


OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 // WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 // SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 // SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 // LONDON 07901 778948 // REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 //

KENYA BRUNEI GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 //


CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // ESBA




© All MOD British Crown Copyright images courtesy of Defence News Imagery CONTRIBUTIONS We love to hear from you. If you’ve got a story you would like to share, let us know – deped@ DISTRIBUTION Are you getting it four times a year? A free copy of Army&You should reach every Army family every season. It’s posted to all UK SFA and sent overseas via BFPO. If you are not receiving a copy, contact your AFF co-ordinator or call the distribution team on 01264 382313 or Andover Mil 2313


Email PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation (AFF). Editorial content © AFF (Registered Charity 291202). Not to be reproduced without permission from the Editor ADVERTISEMENTS For information about advertising opportunities in Army&You, contact the team at TylerBale Communications. Email: Tel: 01252 714870 Web:


COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date is 15 October 2017 unless otherwise stated. Winners’ names will be published on the A&Y website SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit for details


autumn 2017 Army&You 03


Post generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust


Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity;

51) comes from Mons in Belgium and three Army youngsters review our latest Book Club good read (page 59). The Anderson family share their experience of Service life in Our Army Family (page 27) and the postbag pages (64 & 66) carry your points of view. If you would like to contribute, get in touch! Turn to pages 62-63 for some great prizes, many of them from companies run by Army families. Check out more stories on our website ( and don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

REQUENT mobility, chequered CVs, finding work on overseas postings and flexible work to fit around childcare are hurdles that many families have to clear when it comes to finding employment. In this Army&You, we take a look at how those hurdles can be overcome. Read Keeping work ready on pages 18-19 and hear other inspiring stories from Army family entrepreneurs – from kayaking to first aid, baby clothes to play therapy, many of you are successfully running your own businesses (pages 24-25). We also hear from families who have not let their disabilities stop them from finding suitable work. Turn to Empowering employment on page 20 and check out the advice from employment experts CTP and Recruit for Spouses on page 60. Our regular features are proving as popular as ever. This edition’s A Postcard From (page

Queen Victoria School Raising to Distinction Admissions Deadline 15 Jan each year Queen Victoria School in Dunblane is a co-educational boarding school for the children of UK Armed Forces personnel who are Scottish, or who have served in Scotland or who have been members of a Scottish regiment. The QVS experience encourages and develops well-rounded, confident individuals in an environment of stability and continuity. The main entry point is into Primary 7 and all places are fully funded for tuition and boarding by the Ministry of Defence. Families are welcome to find out more by contacting Admissions on +44 (0) 131 310 2927 to arrange a visit.

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

Contents AUTUMN 2017


10 Covenant How a Service person secured a fair mortgage deal 26 Benefits to Work We explore the expansion of Universal Credit 27 Our Army Family Meet Sophie Anderson and husband Steve 30 Renting Your Own Home Army&You's guide for tenants and landlords 51 A Postcard From... Learn all about life in Mons, Belgium 55 Improving the System Exploring the settlement visa process


18 Keeping Work Ready How to keep yourself prepared for employment 20 Empowering Employment Why disabilities don't have to be a barrier to work 22 A Career in Writing Clare Harvey on life as an author and Army wife 24 Business Solutions Meet the entrepreneurs turning passion into profit 35 Settling into School Easing education during Army family moves 52 Mass Movement Learn the logistics involved in uprooting entire regiments


06 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... Sara Baade, AFF’s Chief Executive 12 AFF in Action Discover the latest news affecting Army families 60 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with CVs, interviews and education 62 Giveaways Win money towards a cabin break, artwork & much more 64 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here


ON SONG Discover why Military Wives Choirs are striking a chord in a community near you PAGE 29 Picture: Helen Holt Photography

Army&You Autumn 2017

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

PASSION INTO PROFIT Meet the entrepreneurs building brilliant businesses SPOTLIGHT



Military Wives Choirs keep in tune with the Service community GIVEAWAYS




Spotlight on Scotland: What can Army families expect if they are posted north of the border? Find out on pages 48-49

autumn 2017 Army&You 05




Do you have a career that means that you need to travel? If the soldier in your family claims allowances linked to accompanied service, you will need to show that you are not away from your SFA for more than 90 days per year without prior formal agreement from the MOD. This is particularly linked to Continuity of Education Allowance. I’ve written an influencing paper for the MOD on how this inadvertently restricts certain partner career paths and on the difficulties you have found in accessing advice from the Pay and Allowances Complaints and Casework Cell team. Let me know your experiences at

The Forces in Mind Trust has awarded a grant to Anglia Ruskin University to conduct an audit of services available for and provided to Commonwealth soldiers and their families. There is currently little understanding of the specific needs of this group, particularly in relation to transition to civilian life, and it will be the first time research has been done in this area. The aim is to better understand the issues to identify priorities for further research and inform improvements in provision. AFF put this bid together and we are delighted at the news of this funding as it will really help us to develop an action plan with other Service charities around tackling Commonwealth issues.

If you or your partner have an individual income of more than £50,000 and are in receipt of Child Benefit, you may have to pay a tax charge, known as the High Income Child Benefit Charge. You can either choose to opt out and not receive payments or you can continue to receive the benefit but pay a tax charge at the end of the tax year. Remember to fill in the claim form as it will help to ensure that you receive National Insurance credits which count towards your state pension. For more information, visit or contact me at

Research as much as you can about the organisation

It’s got to be the five Ps – prior preparation prevents poor practice

Spend time researching the company and the role you’ve applied for



Car Finance

The UK’s Only Specialist Armed Forces Motor Finance Broker 03335 775533 Unique Financial Services South East LTD T/A MK Car Finance, company reg 6376027. The Old Courthouse, 20 Simpson Rd, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK2 2DD. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority FRN: 666832 06 Army&You autumn 2017


This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

We asked our specialists to share their advice on how to ace an interview...





I am currently looking into provision for young people with additional needs and/or disability who are transitioning from education into training or employment when reaching 18 years and over. I would be really interested in your experiences regarding this for a future article in Army&You. Please contact me at if you have concerns about what’s available, have faced ongoing issues or if you have some positive feedback.

Over recent months I have attended several housing clinics in different areas – these are an opportunity for families to meet with AFF, representatives of CarillionAmey and DIO and local welfare teams to discuss issues in person. If you have a burning estate-wide issue which you feel would benefit from a housing clinic, please contact your local AFF Co-ordinator (details on page three) and we will look at the possibility of holding a clinic near you.

This autumn, AFF and the Naval and RAF Families Federations have teamed up to run a tri-Service transition survey. If your soldier is due to leave the Army in the next two years, or has left in the previous two, please complete our survey, available at from 5-29 September. It will cover all aspects of the transition process, including reasons for leaving and the effect this has on the family of the serving person. It will also explore the biggest transition challenges you face as a family and find out how you think the process can be improved. The findings are vital to help shape our future work in this area to ensure you get the help you need.

Smile, be honest and don’t bluff

Preparation and well-brushed hair

Thoroughly research the organisation – find out about their values and future plans

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autumn 2017 Army&You 07

This post is generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust

This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

Our team provides families with trusted, expert knowledge and here we find out what they’ve been up to over the last few months. Turn to page three to get in touch.



Open Morning Saturday 7 October 2017 9am - 12.30 Located on a beautiful 150-acre site in Dover, Kent, The Duke of York’s Royal Military School is a state boarding school for students aged 11 to 18. We welcome applications from any student who wants to study GCSEs and A Levels at our unique and iconic school with its strong traditions.

Why choose us? • Unique ethos helps promote

character and life skills, with students encouraged to achieve their potential in a supportive community.

• GCSE results significantly above the national average.

• An active and separate Sixth Form – with opportunities to lead in all aspects of School life.

• A £24.9m building programme

has just been completed to enhance our already impressive school site and facilities.

• Students enjoy an active lifestyle

including sport, music, drama and outdoor activities, with over 70 clubs and activities offered.

• Good transport links to London and Europe.

• If you qualify for CEA, you

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• Childcare vouchers are accepted.

*Full fee is £4,332 per term

Book your place: 01304 245073 *Fees are reviewed annually



Breaking down barriers by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive


OME of the most common enquiries that come to AFF are around employment and how spouses and partners can make work ‘work’ for them. It’s something that I feel very passionate about. Having worked all my adult life, as an Army spouse, a mum and lately as a single mum, I know and understand that making work ‘work’ when you’re mobile, and often on your own, is not easy.

“Having worked all my adult life, as an Army spouse, a mum and lately as a single mum, I know and understand that making work ‘work’ when you’re mobile, and often on your own, is not easy.”

Employment is so important for many of us, not just for an additional source of income, but to provide us with an identity and confidence. Army spouses are often referred to as ‘dependants’, a truly archaic term and one that I’m much against; by having meaningful employment we gain a sense of independence and challenge this way of thinking. We break down the old-fashioned views that spouses and partners are reliant on their soldier for financial and emotional security.

SUPPORTING YOU It’s for all of these reasons that we are trying to support family members into employment as much as we can here at AFF. We do this through partnerships with the likes of Manpower

and developing relationships with organisations such as Recruit for Spouses, but also by putting pressure on the Army, MOD and the wider government to consider spousal employment at all times, especially when planning for the future. We know what the main barriers to spousal and partner employment are – childcare, mobility and lack of opportunities to name some; however, what we don’t yet know is how we can better break down those barriers. There

are many courses, training and work initiatives available, but you have told us that this is an area you struggle with.


I’m delighted that we’ve been granted LIBOR funding to

Contact AFF @The_AFF on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or via

do some additional and more in-depth research into the issue, to better understand what would make a real difference to you.

Look out for how you can get involved this autumn at I would love to hear your ideas on what practical solutions you think would help with spousal employment – tweet @The_AFF or email I look forward to hearing from you. &

autumn 2017 Army&You 09


Finding a fair deal With the mobile nature of Army life, you and your soldier can sometimes become accidental landlords if you have to rent out your property to undertake a posting elsewhere. Lt Col Penny Davies ALS (pictured below right) told us how she overcame unfair disadvantage when renting out her home…


ENNY purchased her home in London in 2013, but was posted to Cyprus a year later. She explained: “I wrote to my mortgage provider, Scottish Widows, who granted me permission to let. Due to my status in the Armed Forces, they waived the usual fee.”

SECURING THE BEST DEAL Penny’s current mortgage deal ended on 1 April 2016 and she was advised that, from that date, her account would revert to the

standard variable rate. “Originally I was told that having reached the end of a two-year fixed interest rate period, I would not be entitled to benefit from a new one because I had ‘chosen’ to rent out my flat and work overseas,” she said. “It was clear that this policy had been developed without regard to the significant impact on members of the Armed Forces. I was left facing commercial disadvantage.”

ACTION TAKEN Penny contacted her bank to

Specialists have an advantage

highlight how this issue related to the Armed Forces Covenant in the hope it would see the value of the principles that lay behind it and the government’s wish to rectify inadvertent disadvantages faced by those serving in the Armed Forces. She said: “I reiterated that I had no control over where I was posted and asked them to consider allowing customers in my position not to miss out on accessing the interest rate deals offered to civilian customers.” Penny was delighted when Scottish Widows eventually agreed to change its policies towards Armed Forces customers in April last year.

allowing Service personnel overseas to let out their home at no extra cost, to also include those posted within the UK. Martin Fleming, MD Scottish Widows Bank, added: “We were very happy to have helped Penny as it is important to us to support those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces and their families.”


The same is true in family law Giraffes are specialists as they can reach above the heads of other animals. At The Family Law Co we are specialists too; our expert knowledge enables us to reach resolutions in all aspects of family law, including divorce, separation & financial matters, co-habitation agreements and grandparents’ rights. Contact us for specialist advice on all areas of family law.

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10 Army&You autumn 2017

AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist Laura Lewin said: “I’m pleased that Scottish Widows has amended their policy to allow Service personnel and their families who are unable to live in their own home due to postings, to rent out their properties without facing higher costs or having to change their existing mortgage deal.” And it’s not just families posted abroad who will benefit as the majority of the UK’s high street lenders have extended an offer

NEXT STEPS AFF has been working with banks and lenders for a long time and we are delighted progress has been made. We will continue to ensure they honour their Covenant commitments and remove any disadvantage. To find out more about how the Covenant could help you, visit or – if you’re experiencing commercial disadvantage as an Army family, contact Laura at & @ArmyandYou

AFF in action #Onthecase Your right to vote

#Getintouch Pop along SOME AFF Co-ordinators have noticed a drop in the number of families attending coffee mornings, events and groups. We’ve also heard from concerned unit welfare officers who are finding some of you hard to reach. If you’re having problems attending, perhaps due to transport issues or lack of access to camps, let us know at You can find out when AFF’s Co-ordinators are visiting your area on local noticeboards and Facebook groups.

THE last general election took place under unique circumstances, but AFF is on the case to help ensure serving personnel and families overseas do not feel disenfranchised from the process. In our recent survey, you told us that you would prefer postal voting or the ability to cast a vote at a ballot box on a base overseas. It’s clear from our survey that proxy voting is not ideal,

#Didyouknow? Don’t miss out The new tax-free childcare scheme for under-12s began in April. Under the new scheme, for every £8 you pay in, the government will add £2, up to a maximum contribution of £2,000 per child, per year (£4,000 per year for children

12 Army&You autumn 2017

especially if you don’t have contacts in the area you were last registered in. From 241 respondents: l 94 per cent were registered to vote l 64 per cent voted (although how many postal votes came in on time is unknown) l 70 per cent would prefer postal votes

with disabilities). To be eligible for the scheme, both parents must be working or self-employed. AFF is aware that this may cause a disadvantage where the spouse/partner struggles to gain employment due to Army life. You can find out more about the eligibility criteria at – if you don’t qualify, sign up to the old

We will be working with BFPO, MOD and the Electoral Commission to continue to highlight these issues and seek a solution. Tweet us @The_AFF #ServiceVoter

scheme at armed-forces before it closes to new entrants in April 2018. The MOD has been working closely with other government departments to ensure these changes can be mirrored, as far as is reasonably practicable, for entitled MOD personnel based outside the UK. If you’re overseas, check locally whether you’re eligible.



#AFFteamwork Got you covered

#AFFwin Passports success FOLLOWING four years of AFF lobbying, Her Majesty’s Passport Office has agreed to waive the requirement for Service personnel in the UK and overseas to have to attend a routine interview before they can get their first adult British passport.

#Onthecase Clarity needed overseas A NUMBER of you have been refused permission to accompany your soldier on an overseas assignment due to your educational, medical or welfare needs. Sometimes decisions have been made late in the process, which can have a big impact on your family. Our Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross, and Esther Thomas, AFF’s Regional Manager Overseas, investigated the issues and as a result of their research, identified five main areas of concern: l Information on overseas locations is limited l The guidance and policies from the MOD can be confusing l When medical, educational

One-year passports will no longer be issued. Unfortunately, the process for spouses and other entitled family members is still being reviewed. They will therefore continue to be issued with one-year passports for the time being. AFF will continue to push for change. For the latest updates, visit the Foreign & Commonwealth section of the AFF website at

or welfare requirements are reviewed, there is no option for personal representation l Sometimes a refusal is made after the family has started their moving process l Clearer, more robust guidance is needed on the whole supportability and appeals process. AFF has lobbied the MOD to review aspects of this process and we’re pleased to report that Joint Forces Command and the Surgeon General’s department have been receptive to the issues we have raised. They’re working hard to make improvements to the process to help ensure you have the right support in place. View the report and AFF’s recommendations at – if you’ve experienced issues, contact

WORKING in partnership with the Naval Families Federation is helping us to reach families in the remote and mainly Naval-occupied areas of Chivenor, Plymouth, St Mawgun, Blandford and Yeovilton in the South West. “Our first visit to RMB Chivenor was a great success with both

#Onetowatch Professional approach WELFARE support agencies and health and education institutions are joining forces at monthly meetings to tackle issues affecting Service families in Weeton, Lancashire. The new ‘professionals’ group was brought together by AFF’s former North West Co-

#AFFwin Fair housing charges AFF is delighted to have secured a fairer deal for families who experienced an unexpected jump of more than one CAAS band in their final SFA housing charges. After being presented with families’ queries, DIO has agreed to investigate the increased final charges many families were facing and provide a chance to appeal

families and welfare teams being very receptive,” said AFF’s Regional Manager South, Julie Mounfield. “These areas are also closely linked to Poole, West Moors and Bovington, so we hope that between us families can get the support they need.” Do you live in these areas and have a concern or question? Get in touch at

ordinator, Pam Davis. AFF will highlight families’ concerns to organisations including the HIVE, Army Welfare Service and local children’s services. Pam said: “It’s hoped that by bringing support agencies together concerns and current shortcomings in provision can be tackled holistically with enduring solutions.” Contact us by email at

decisions. We’ve also asked DIO to ensure next year that letters informing families of their planned increase in CAAS band are sent in early March. Finally, letters informing families of a change to their final band, as a result of surveys or data reviews, must follow the correct procedure and time frame, giving families a chance to appeal. For more information, visit the housing pages at

autumn 2017 Army&You 13










CitizenAID is a new initiative providing advice on what to do if you’re involved in a multicasualty incident. Based on triedand-tested principles, a free app and pocket guide has been developed, initially for use in the UK and potentially being rolled out in other countries. Set up by a team of senior clinicians with military and civilian experience, and in close consultation with the emergency services, citizenAID is part of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity. Watch the latest video at highlighting how immediate actions can save lives. The video carries a warning of graphic images.

A new employment project from north east charity Finchale is helping military spouses find new careers. Spouses and partners across the region can access the TRUEview project, designed to help with employability. With money from the Covenant Fund, the project aims to remove barriers to work such as childcare and inflexible hours with a unique focus on jobs that can lead to a portable career. The programme is free to access, including free childcare, and is being delivered in Catterick Garrison offering CV writing and interview techniques, one-to-one career coaching and support with researching the job market. For more information, call 0191 386 2634 or visit

Operation Christmas Box, from charity UK4U, is already underway to ensure all those serving in the UK Armed Forces away from their families on Christmas Day receive a ‘square stocking’. The boxes, a tradition that began in 1914, contain novelties, useful items, games and a Christmas hat and card. The charity does not receive any public funds – the MOD offers advice on the number of boxes required and the contents. Find out more and show your support at

Explore your transferrable skills with the Step into Health programme, open to Service leavers and their families. If you want to know more about a career in the NHS, this is a great chance to explore the opportunities available. Information days are held at a number of locations throughout the UK and offer practical advice on how your experience as part of the military community can transfer to an NHS job. You’ll also receive useful information about the NHS recruitment process and some locations even offer fast-track recruitment. Find out more at militarystepintohealth.

Transitioning out of the Army can bring its own set of challenges, both for Service personnel and for the families who support them. If your soldier is leaving or about to leave the Forces, check out Civvy Street, The Royal British Legion’s employability service. Registration is open to both you and your soldier and other entitled family members. Its services include a jobs board, careers advice, grants for training and qualifications. To find out more about the support on offer, visit

14 Army&You autumn 2017




AFF has been receiving enquiries from families living in Northern Ireland (NI) about the healthcare provision and waiting list times. In NI, there are some treatments that cannot be accessed via the NHS and for some procedures, there may be longer waiting list times compared to where you are living currently. AFF feels that it’s important for you to explore what NHS and social care provision is available before you are assigned to NI so that you can check that you are able to receive or transfer the treatment you require. We have been working with the chain of command to produce information on this – it can be accessed at If you are experiencing any issues with health or social care provision in NI, please contact AFF’s Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross (additionalneeds@aff. or AFF Regional Manager North Annabel Ingram (rmnorth@

In December 2016, the Scottish Government announced that the Scottish Rate of Income Tax for the tax year 2017/18 was changing. It means that approximately 2,000 Service personnel who are higher rate taxpayers are affected by up to a maximum of £400 each. Personnel will only be affected if their main place of residence is in SFA/SSFA in Scotland and they earn more than £43,000. This is obviously disappointing for Service families and it could be seen as a negative aspect of a posting to Scotland. AFF is asking if there is going to be any form of compensation for these families. We understand that the MOD is not planning to cover the shortfall. Feed back your views to AFF’s Allowances & Money Specialist, Laura Lewin at

7 FUTURE FINANCE Changes to the state pension and National Insurance contributions came into effect in April this year – and there’s a great way for you and your soldier, whether Regular or Reserve, to find out how the changes will affect your family’s future finances. Go to and apply for a state pension statement – this will give you a useful estimate of how much you are likely to get when you reach state pension age. You can then decide whether to top up your pension if you are eligible and, if you are a spouse or partner who is missing NI payments because you were serving abroad, apply to have the missing years reinstated. If you’re concerned about your state pension, contact the Forces Pension Society at or Laura Lewin, AFF’s Money & Allowances Specialist at

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16 Army&You autumn 2017





Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Ford Focus ST-Line range: urban 33.2-67.3 (8.5-4.2), extra urban 60.1-83.1 (4.7-3.4), combined 46.3-74.3 (6.1-3.8). Official CO2 emissions 140-99g/km.

The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience. *Military Saving programme available to current and ex-Service Personnel. Including veterans and retired members of the UK Armed Forces. Customer savings of 5% to 20% off the recommended On The Road price available across the Ford range (excluding KA+, Mustang, Focus RS and selected Mondeo, Edge and Ranger models) on vehicles contracted from 1st April 2017 and 30th December 2017 and registered between 1st April 2017 and 30th June 2018. Retail customers only. This promotion cannot be used in conjunction with other manufacturer promotions or incentives. At participating Ford dealers – for terms and conditions, including the eligibility criteria, eligible models and customer savings visit:

Pictured, clockwise from above left: Artist Lorna Stannard; executive coach Sarah Barker; beautician Gemma Warr; sea kayak instructor Phil Keetley; Sarah Doherty’s vintage salon-on-wheels.


KEEPING work-ready

HERE IS no contract to sign and no extra clause in the wedding vows but when you become an Army spouse or partner do you have to accept that your career will take a backseat?, writes Jill Misson. Living with a soldier and moving around can leave your CV looking patchy and that can knock your confidence. No matter how much you value family life, it can be frustrating to feel you’re playing second fiddle without your own income or identity. AFF’s Chief Executive Sara Baade said: “Many families are rightly proud of their soldier’s career choice but want to keep their own identity to help them cope with

xx Army&You autumn 2017

the sometimes overwhelming pressures of Army life.” A second salary can be essential at a time when home ownership is being encouraged. However, 48 per cent of the families who responded to an AFF employment survey in 2016 said frequent postings made it more difficult to maintain employment. So when you are between jobs, how can you keep yourself work-ready? Sarah Barker, an executive coach who has lived all over the world as an Army spouse, said: “Some employers still look unfavourably upon a discontinuous employment history and can be reluctant to employ someone they consider transient, but technology and a shifting job market means traditional attitudes are changing.” Sarah has had to pass up promotions when posted and has self-funded professional development to remain employable. She has also taken advantage of free training courses and recommends the

LifeWorks programme from RBLI. “Spouses often get overlooked even though they have built up fantastic skills from juggling what can be a hectic lifestyle,” explained RBLI’s Iain Downie. “Our dedicated team of trainers and vocational assessors can help them to identify their own strengths which can be transferred to the workplace.” Free drop-in sessions have been run by AFF and Manpower UK in Bulford. Chris Gray, the firm’s managing director, said: “From CV workshops to interview coaching and one-to-one career guidance, we can help spouses take the next step to feeling more confident in their skills.” Claire Laidler was once told in a job interview that the company had a policy of not employing Army spouses. She now runs her own business working from home as a virtual assistant, a role that she first heard about from an article in Army&You. She said: “I can still do the school run, but as well as being a wife and a mother, I am also a professional administrator with an income and a sense of self. I don’t have to worry about being posted and starting the



job hunt again.” There has been a definite shift in the attitude of employers in recent years according to Heledd Kendrick, CEO of Recruit for Spouses. “We have seen a really positive change since we started in 2009,” she claimed. “The Armed Forces Covenant has played a part by raising awareness and forcing employers to be more accountable and to acknowledge our unique skillset but they do still need to be educated around how they can best support our lifestyle.”

RUNNING YOUR OWN BUSINESS Many Army spouses are now choosing to start their own businesses and, while that may sound daunting, there is support available. Phil Keetley set up his own business in sea kayak coaching and, although serving wife Lisa has a long commute from their Scotland home, he says it’s a good balance: “I would encourage anyone living the Army lifestyle to consider a small business, particularly as working for yourself allows a degree of freedom so your partner can meet the Army’s commitments.”

START-UP HELP Entrepreneurs can enrol on a free ten-month course from the University of Wolverhampton. Students on the Supporting the Unsung Hero Dependants’ Business Start-Up Programme learn how to turn an idea into a profitable company that is not restricted to one location. Sarah Doherty knows how crucial it is for a business to be mobile. Since starting Birdhouse Beauty in 2012, she has had to close her salon and relocate four times due to postings – but now claims to have dreamt up the perfect solution. “My husband and I have converted a vintage caravan into a salon on wheels,” she explained. “I will be instantly ready to welcome clients wherever we move.” Social enterprise X-Forces also supports new businesses set up by Army families. Founder and CEO Ren Kapur said: “With our self-employment awareness workshops the aim is to encourage spouses to pursue their goals and enable them to explore a flexible and fulfilling career choice where the sky is the limit.” Gemma Warr opened The Beauty Lounge in Bulford this year and X-Forces helped by reading her business plan and providing funding and a mentor. The

“Some employers still look unfavourably upon a discontinuous employment history and can be reluctant to employ someone they consider transient but technology and a shifting job market means traditional attitudes are changing.” – Army spouse and executive coach Sarah Barker journey to owning her own salon began when her husband was posted to Germany and Gemma had to leave a well-paid job. She told us: “I had always done nails and beauty for friends and family in my spare time, so I did some research to find out if there was a need for a beautician on camp and took the plunge. “If we hadn’t been posted I’d probably still be working for the local authority but what I do now is my true passion.”

RECOGNISING YOUR SKILLS The adaptability and resourcefulness of Army families are often valued highly by employers. Hannah Martin, co-founder of Talented Ladies Club, said it’s important not to overlook your soft skills and to believe in yourself. She added: “Many people have had success in turning a passion or craft into a business or spotting a gap in the market and creating a product to fit.” Lorna Stannard turned her love of art into an enjoyable enterprise by taking commissions to draw portraits of people’s pets. “The Army community love dogs and horses,” she said. “The response from owners has been overwhelmingly positive, which makes this the most rewarding work I have ever done.” Another way to keep yourself work-ready is by volunteering. Paula Searle became a volunteer adviser at Wiltshire Citizens Advice and less than a year later switched to a paid role. She said: “It’s a flexible job allowing me to juggle my hours to accommodate boarding school pick-ups

and holidays. The organisation is incredibly supportive of military families.” AFF has been awarded LIBOR money to commission further research into the barriers to spousal employment. Chief Executive Sara Baade feels it’s time to ditch the word ‘dependant’. “It’s an outdated, archaic term,” she said. “By supporting spouses in their search for meaningful employment we are injecting independence and helping to break down the old-fashioned view that spouses and partners are reliant on their soldier for financial and emotional security.” If you are experiencing employment issues due to the nature of Army life, contact Laura Lewin, AFF Employment & Training Specialist by emailing etam@aff. or visit Turn to pages 24-25 to read more inspiring employment journeys. &

USEFUL CONTACTS Recruit for Spouses Talented Ladies Club X-Forces Supporting the Unsung Hero RBLI LifeWorks Families

autumn 2017 Army&You 19


Empowering employment If you’re an Army spouse with an additional need and/or disability, or if you’re caring for a child with an additional need and/or disability, finding suitable employment can be a real challenge. Army&You spoke to several families to find out their experiences…


ORCED to give up her much-loved role as a midwife when she became a paraplegic, AFF’s Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross admits that her life changed ‘dramatically’. “I had to reassess what my future employment would be,” she explained. “I hadn’t worked for ten years when I applied for my current role with AFF. “I was really excited at the prospect of working again and the job description really suited my skillset and needs perfectly, I couldn’t have written a better one myself.” Karen feels working has transformed her life and given

Army spouse Rachel

her confidence, self-respect and an opportunity to work with dedicated, interesting people. She added: “It is also great to be earning my own money again!”

FINDING THE RIGHT JOB Army spouse Rachel developed a medical condition which meant she required some support and adaptations to ensure her work environment suited her needs. She explained: “I feel incredibly fortunate that when I received the news that I have a disabling condition, I had the full support of the MOD school where I was then employed. “With their support and by adapting things to assist me, I was able to continue doing a job I loved and be a positive role model to the children I worked with. In a time when my future health was questionable, being able to continue working without discrimination but with tremendous support from my colleagues was invaluable not only to my personal wellbeing but to that of my family too.” Mobility is an issue for a number of spouses looking for employment, but when you require extra support getting into work, it can be a real challenge. Karen added: “Rachel and I have been fortunate because

l There are many ways people with disability can be supported into work and when in work. The Equality Act 2010 states that employers are required to make reasonable adjustments to make sure those employees with a disability are not seriously disadvantaged when working. l The Access to Work Grant can help with adaptations or sourcing special equipment, fares to work if you can’t use public transport, disability awareness training for colleagues and the cost of 20 Army&You autumn 2017

we are in employment that suits our needs and we both have supportive employers. “However, for many family members this isn’t the case. If you are looking for work and have a disability, check to see if the advert or application form has a ‘disability confident’ symbol and the ‘positive about disabled people’ symbol (two ticks) because this indicates that employers are dedicated to employing people with a disability.”

AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist Karen Ross

SUPPORTING PARENT CARERS Some Army spouses are parent carers and this can also be a significant barrier to finding employment. Izzy was working in the construction industry but a few years after giving birth to her son he was investigated for autism. To get a diagnosis meant going through four years of appointments with healthcare professionals. Izzy said: “We were pulled from pillar to post and I had to give up work. “It is really difficult to commit to a job when you may be called at any time by school if he was having a bad day. You can’t go to an interview and tell them that you may not be able to commit fully to the job.”

moving your equipment if you change job – l If volunteering interests you, there is more information at take-part/volunteer l If you are claiming Carers Allowance, you can earn up to £116 a week after tax (including some expenses) and still claim. If you are studying, it mustn’t be for more than 21 hours per week. For details, visit

Izzy’s son is now taking GCSEs and has become more independent and settled, so this has allowed her to access Manpower employability sessions and she is feeling more confident about looking for future employment opportunities.

VOLUNTEERING Jo, who is a carer to her son Harry, has opted for voluntary work and currently volunteers for AFF. She explained: “For us personally it is not feasible for me to work because Harry has to have specific, trained care and I am his main carer. “Volunteering allows me to fill the gaps in my CV and to get in touch with people on the patch by helping at coffee mornings and supporting the local AFF co-ordinator.”

GET IN TOUCH Spousal employment is very much on AFF’s agenda this year. If you are experiencing issues finding suitable employment due to additional needs or disability, or those of your child, contact Karen Ross at & @ArmyandYou

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What is your connection to the military? When I first met my Royal Engineers husband, Chris Smith, he was a corporal – a tank commander based in Germany. By the time we finally got around to getting married (I proposed to him on Leap Day 1996 in Split, when he was on 72-hours’ leave from his Bosnia tour – but that’s another story) he was a staff sergeant, based at Chetwynd Barracks in Chilwell, Nottingham. I was an Army wife for 17 years, during which time we had three children and moved house seven times. By the time he left, I had a wardrobe full of below-the-knee-messdinner-suitable-dresses, as you do!

How did your career as an author begin? I began writing when I was pregnant with my first child. My plan was to develop a flexible career that I could fit with Army life and I had always loved to write. What I didn’t appreciate is that writing is a really long apprenticeship. By the time I realised my ambition, Chris had already signed off, and the children were

all in school.

to juggle the needs of three primary-age kids (the twins were six and my son was nine at the time), a terminallyill Labrador and everything else – you know what it’s like. It was really hard work, but friends and neighbours were always a brilliant support, and the book club on camp even critiqued some of my writing, which was a tremendous help.

What was your inspiration? I wrote three contemporary novels about Army life in one form or another before finally getting published with my fourth novel, The Gunner Girl, which is an historical novel about girl soldiers in wartime. I didn’t intend to become an historical author, but I stumbled into it when my husband happened to mention that his mother had been in the ATS, working on the anti-aircraft guns in London in WWII. Although his mother sadly passed away before I met her, the idea of women soldiers in London during the war proved an irresistible catalyst for the story that became my debut novel.

Why do you think your books appeal to Army families? I think my books appeal to people with links to the Forces – and not just women. My books aren’t about war, they are about relationships, with armed conflict as the messy, intrusive backdrop to personal dilemmas. And I think this is something that Forces families know all about.

How did you manage the work, particularly with your soldier husband away at first? The Gunner Girl was partly written as masters coursework. I took an MA in Creative Writing at the University of Nottingham whilst Chris was away on ops in Afghanistan in 2011/12. I naively thought that it would be ‘nice to have something to do’ when Chris was on tour. I hadn’t really appreciated just how much work an MA involves, and how hard it would be

Do you think writing is a good career choice for Army spouses/partners? If so, why? Being an author is a brilliant job to mix with Army life, because you are completely flexible about when and where you work – but if I’d known how long it would take to realise my ambition, I would have started the process a good ten years earlier!

Win! Army&You has three copies of Clare’s new book, The Night Raid, to give away. To enter, turn to page three.

Do you have any tips for budding authors who are reading this? Be patient, take as many writing courses as you can to help you improve, and don’t & give up.

A career in writing Picture: Simon Buck

Clare Harvey tells Army&You how she juggled her career as an author and Army wife… 22 Army&You autumn 2017



VIRTUAL REALITY Business owner Amanda Johnson believes her service in the Royal Navy coupled with being an Army spouse gave her the skills, qualities and inspiration she needed to run her own successful company – and now she’s passing on her knowledge to other military spouses and partners. Army&You caught up with her to find out more…


ITH 23 years of military service, Amanda was able to call on some well-honed skills when she began training with Virtual Assistant Coaching and Training (VACT) – a company she now owns. “The Armed Forces encourages you


to be the best you can be, to believe in yourself and to live life to your fullest potential,” she explained. “I learnt the importance of clear communication, honesty, loyalty and integrity – qualities that underpin everything I do in my virtual assistant (VA) business. I inspire the

VAs I train to have those same beliefs and standards.” Amanda knows that finding a balance between work and family time is key to making military life work and is keen to train up other military spouses and partners to become VAs. Her husband Andrew is an Army

veteran with 25 years’ service and they also have two little boys. “I’m a firm believer of leading by example,” said Amanda. “The clients I have and the VAs I train know they can have a healthy business and family life, integrated together.

Army&You has teamed up with Amanda to offer one lucky reader a fantastic Military Spouse VA Mastery Course – worth £997. The practical, hands-on course provides you with knowledge of business strategy, tools and technology, client management and marketing and financial planning.

“It’s seen as perfectly acceptable for spouses to change jobs every couple of years. As a VA, you’re a self-employed PA working with clients anywhere in the world and it’s a portable career that can go anywhere. No more searching for jobs every time

you arrive at a new destination!” For anyone starting their own business, Amanda’s tip is to research, research and research. “Ask questions, build relationships and remember it takes time for people to get to know, like and trust you,” she said. &

If you’re the non-serving partner of a Regular or Reserve soldier, send an email to Lisa at stating, in 50 words or fewer, why you would like to take up this fantastic training opportunity. Winner will be chosen on 15 October. For more information, go to autumn 2017 Army&You 23

Business solutions What can you do when your chosen career isn’t in sync with Army life? Whether your soldier is a Regular or Reserve, there are often barriers to holding down a steady job. One option is to go it alone and create your own business. Here, we meet some entrepreneurs who have turned their passion into profit by running their own companies… Name: Jenni Forster – Army spouse and mum of two boys Business: Bluebird Play Therapy Previous job: Learning support assistant “I set up Bluebird Play Therapy after returning from an overseas posting. Play therapy is for children aged four-to-16 who have emotional, social or behavioural difficulties. I use a toolkit of toys, crafts, music and role play to help children to ‘play out’ the problems they are experiencing in a safe, therapeutic environment. Despite its effectiveness, it’s not a well-

Name: Emma Nightingale Business: Handmade by Emma Nightingale Previous job: Admin officer “My nan gave me a few basic sewing lessons when my daughter was born. She gave me one of her old machines to practice on, which ended up in a cupboard forgotten about until my daughter needed a PE bag for nursery... and that’s where it started. I made PE bags, posted them on my Facebook page and people started ordering. Now, I have a sub-contractor, also an Army wife, who helps me with the sewing and I ship hundreds of items a month all over the world.” Advantages: It’s a great business to have without premises as it moves wherever I go. Disadvantages: My husband is currently deployed on a sixmonth tour so in that respect it can be hard, especially in school holidays, but we muddle through! Top tip: I turned a hobby into an income. If you have an idea, go for it!

*Turn to page three to win a voucher for Emma’s products.

24 Army&You autumn 2017

known type of intervention, so my work relies heavily on word of mouth and referrals from agencies that are aware of it.” Advantages: I can work around school hours and I’m not impacted by my husband’s ‘erratic’ working hours! Disadvantages: It’s not easy to move a business like this because I am heavily reliant on a strong relationship with local people. Setting up as self-employed can take time, which I wouldn’t have if we were posted often. Top tip: Finding a career whist being posted all over the place isn’t easy, but it is possible. Make every posting count, make every job add to your experience and have an end goal in mind.

Name: Phil Keetley – Army spouse Business: Sea Kayak Argyll & Bute Previous job: Soldier “I didn’t want to pursue a typical second career after the Army, wanting instead to work with people in the outdoors. Living on the stunning coast of Argyll, sea kayaking seemed the obvious choice as there was a gap in the market and the environment on my doorstep. I didn’t have previous experience, but worked towards leadership and coaching awards as part of my resettlement.” Advantages: I’ve found the process of setting up a business interesting and challenging. There are plenty of crossover skills from Army service, particularly having ‘people skills’ to lead clients. Disadvantages: The business is seasonal and ties me to Argyll, so my wife Lisa has to travel home at weekends from Hampshire, adding time and pressure. It also means I don’t usually work at weekends to ensure we get some time together. Top tip: I would encourage anyone living the Army lifestyle to consider a small business. Identify a niche and work to gain as much credibility in the field as possible.


EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING Name: Lucy Atherden – Army spouse and mum Business: Mini First Aid Previous job: Nurse “When I met my soldier, my career was on the up with a position as a senior nurse practitioner within my sights. But in five years we’ve moved four times and the increasing number of jobs on my CV started to paint a bleak picture on my professional profile. Then, I came across Mini First Aid, a specialist training provider of first aid classes for parents. “I secured funding through X-Forces, which gave me the tools

required. I also have a mentor who helps me with any queries.” Advantages: My business allows me to spend time with my daughters and support my soldier. I’m fulfilled and feel proud of what I’m achieving. Disadvantages: The sticking point with a franchise is that you have to buy into a ‘territory’. I cover East Wiltshire, North Hampshire and West Berkshire. We hope that the New Employment Model will enable my husband to have future postings around this area. Based on this, we’ve now bought our own home. Top tip: Don’t be afraid to network. Find other businesses that market towards the same customer base as yours. Meet up, swap ideas and promotional material.

start of our networking group on social media. We all had things in common; ambition, serving partners and the challenges they bring – it gave me the confidence to take the plunge. Setting up was easy with the help of X-Forces.”

Name: Danielle Gallagher – Army spouse and mum of three Business: Cotton n Paper Previous jobs: PA and waitress

“I set up my business after our twins Alighla and Isabella were born. Living away from family, being unable to rely on my husband due to courses and deployments and with three children under three, I decided it was time to stay at home. What started as a hobby designing and paper-cutting quotes for our home soon blossomed. My family trees soon moved into other areas and over the years I have run paper-cutting courses to teach other military spouses.” Advantages: I can stay home, watch the children grow and hit all their milestones. I have been able to move the business with each posting and sometimes we hit the jackpot and I take over the dining room as an office. Disadvantages: The quarter we’re in now is smaller so I have to make do with a corner of the living room. Top tip: I used to think being an Army spouse or a stay-at-home parent would make me less employable, but I’ve come to learn that it often means we have a useful set of skills for many workplaces and it shouldn’t be undermined. *Turn to page three to win a personalised gift by Danielle

Name: Willow Hearne – Army spouse and mum of three Business: British Babies Previous job: Pharmacy business analyst “I used to work in our family shop so I knew how to run a bricks-and-mortar business, but that wasn’t compatible with Army life. I researched where there could be a gap in the market and had a lightbulb moment to produce organic baby clothes. A few fellow Army spouses met to discuss ways to grow our businesses – that was the

Advantages: I contemplated what would work for me and our Army life – to be with my children, to move around and challenge me mentally. We moved over the summer but other than changing our address none of it affects the business. Disadvantages: The biggest hurdle was learning about manufacturing as my experience was all in retail. Lots of research, emails, discussions and testing got me through it. Top tip: Network with other Army spouses. Nobody understands quite like they do. If you don’t have a group locally, set one up!

*Turn to page three to win a voucher to spend with British Babies









autumn 2017 Army&You 25


Benefits to work U

NIVERSAL Credit is gradually being expanded across the country, so what is it and how might it affect you? It is a single monthly payment that will eventually replace some of the benefits and tax credits you may have claimed previously. The aim is to provide personalised support to help people into work, and also to encourage people that are in work to earn more. It’s available in every job centre across Great Britain and Northern Ireland. You and/or your soldier may be entitled to it, even when you’re temporarily posted overseas.

HOW DOES IT WORK? When you apply you’ll be asked

for your postcode and directed to the right service to complete your claim online. As part of your claim, you’ll be expected to take active steps to prepare for and be available for work. This will involve agreeing to a programme of activities tailored to your individual circumstances and skillset by a work coach. You’ll be asked to complete and accept a claimant commitment. Your claim can remain open, even when you move into work. This means you can work as many hours as you want or take on short contracts to build up experience. As your earnings increase, your Universal Credit payment will reduce at a steady rate so you won’t lose your benefits all at once.

ALREADY EMPLOYED OR ACTIVELY SEEKING WORK? Universal Credit can also help to cover 85 per cent of your eligible childcare costs. If you and/or your partner are responsible for paying rent for the home you live in (not SFA or SSFA), or if you have a mortgage, you may qualify for help in the form of Universal Credit housing costs. This is all part of the single monthly payment you receive, and means you don’t need to apply separately to the local authority.

gainfully self-employed, and your business has been running for more than 12 months, a ‘Minimum Income Floor’ (MIF) – an assumed level of earnings – will be applied to your claim. If your self-employed earnings are below the MIF, it will be used to work out your Universal Credit award instead of your actual earnings. If you’re already claiming Universal Credit and are moving, you’ll continue as you were and advice will be given on how and when the move might affect your claim.

GROW YOUR BUSINESS If you decide to become selfemployed after you’ve made a claim, Universal Credit will provide support to help you grow your business. If you are

Find out more at universal-credit or contact AFF’s Money & Allowances Specialist, Laura Lewin, by emailing &



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#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 #OurArmyFamily on Twitter and Instagram for more stories

Sophie Anderson, husband Steve and daughter Poppy tell us about their expanding Army family… GET INVOLVED

Do you and your loved ones want to share what makes up your #OurArmyFamily? Send your details to

I married Steve in August 2012 and I was so proud to be able to show him off to all our family and friends in his uniform. That’s something that’s never changed. I started my first posting as a military wife at 36 Engineer Regiment and within a year our family had expanded to include our two rescue dogs, Leon and Molly, and our cat, Kenny. I realise now this was a coping mechanism to deal with the periods when I would be alone and in need of company. Just as I got

settled with work and was contemplating adding more animals, I saw two little blue lines on a pregnancy test. Before we had a chance to tell everyone the good news, a posting order arrived for Steve sending us to Germany. You hear good and bad things about postings, but our move to BFG will be a difficult one to top. I worried about everything from the great to the small, but by the time our daughter Poppy was born on bonfire night, all my worries had been erased. We have been here for three years now

and I have seen many sides to military life, but the positives always outweigh the negatives. The distance from family is hard and I feel my husband’s away more than he is home, but video calls have been a lifesaver – as is an open dialogue with our unit’s welfare team for events and leave dates in case I feel brave enough to make plans! My advice for anyone new to patch life is to not listen to the negatives, find a routine, make the most of the time you have together and always have something to

look forward to. The Army is great for events that include the family and I lose track of the coffee mornings on offer. Whether you think you’ll enjoy the events or not, give them a go as you may be lucky enough to make friendships that survive multiple postings. We’re due to welcome our second child at the end of the year, just before my husband deploys and his regiment disbands and returns to the UK. I don’t like to do things by half, but I know there’s a support system out there if needed. &

autumn 2017 Army&You 27

an 2017)_Layout 1 11/05/2017 12:25 Page 1

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Main picture: Helen Holt Photography


In tune: Military spouse Jules (inset) found a real sense of community after joining North London Military Wives Choir

“I joined the Military Wives Choirs – and I haven’t looked back!”


HE unpredictable nature of Army life puts lots of pressure on families and the feeling of isolation can be common. There’s lots of research to say that singing in groups helps to alleviate stress and improve mental health, as well as bringing people together. That’s why the Military Wives Choirs are so important. With an aim to bring women in the military community closer together through singing, there are more than 70 Military Wives Choirs in British bases across the UK and overseas helping to combat this isolation. Jules (46), a member of North London Military Wives Choir, said: “We were posted to Northwood in September 2015

and despite moving several times in the past, as many Army families do, I found this move a particularly hard one. “It’s a young patch with lots of mums meeting at the school gates. With my children away at boarding school, I was limited in the ways I could meet people.”

JOINING UP Jules had heard there was a Military Wives Choir in Bushy, but was nervous as she had never sung in a choir before. “I’m not the best singer and when you’ve moved around a lot, it can knock your confidence in trying new things,” she said. “I emailed the choir and got a friendly response instantly, but it still took me a while to pluck up

“I’ve secured some lovely friendships with women of all ages with different connections to the military – it’s such an amazing thing to be involved in.” – Jules, Military Wives Choirs member

the courage and go along.” Eventually Jules bit the bullet and hasn’t looked back. “Stepping into the rehearsal room for the first time, it did initially feel daunting,” she explained. “But the ladies were incredibly welcoming. I can read music but I found it tricky to sing in harmony at first however, everyone was just so patient and helpful.”

network, she’s already in touch with her nearest new choir in Innsworth so she can start meeting people straight away. She added: “I would say to anyone who is thinking of joining but might be unsure to give it a go. “I never thought that I would be part of something like this but I’m incredibly glad I am – I feel very proud to belong to North London Military Wives Choir.”

MAKING FRIENDS After a few rehearsals, everything just fell into place for Jules, who said: “I’ve secured some lovely friendships with women of all ages with different connections to the military – it’s such an amazing thing to be involved in. “When we’re all singing together, it’s a lovely blend of voices and the rush you get after a performance or even just a rehearsal is so nice. I wish I had joined sooner.” Jules is on the move again soon and, because of the choir

FIND OUT MORE The Military Wives Choirs are open to wives, fiancées or co-habiting partners, mothers, sisters or daughters of serving British Armed Forces personnel. Serving or retired British military personnel and civilian employees within the military community who support Forces families are also eligible. To find a choir near you, visit, email or call 020 7463 9407. & autumn 2017 Army&You 29


Renting your own home If you own a property or are thinking of buying a property and renting it out, there are many things to consider. AFF is here to help. Our Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, has recently completed a course on the rental process and is now accredited with the National Landlords Association to give advice. Contact Cat at

Taxing rental issues


THE new landlords tax is gradually being phased in and will be fully implemented by 2020. This means that certain deductions, such as the mortgage interest payment, can no longer be made before the tax is calculated. We have been contacted by many of you who own

the Army. AFF firmly believes that Armed Forces personnel who only own one property but rent it out should be exempt from this policy and we will continue to raise this issue at the highest level.

Thinking of renting your property? Here are some things to consider:

To find out more, contact Laura Lewin at

✔ Provide an Energy

one property but are unable to live in it because of the mobile nature of Service life. Many families have told us that they feel disadvantaged by the policy. We recently carried out a survey on this issue and the results clearly highlight that, once the new rules are

fully implemented, the families most affected are those of you who are currently just breaking even or making a loss. These are the families who own one property which they live in when Army postings allow or who have sensibly planned to have somewhere to live once they leave

✔ Keep your property free

from health hazards ✔ Make sure all gas and

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AFF has put together a toolkit of useful web addresses for those of you currently renting out your home or thinking of doing so in England, Scotland or Wales. The toolkit offers advice on the different ways you can manage your property, the legal requirements and how to start and end tenancy agreements. Find out more at

CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS ONE option for renting is to be part of a social letting agency. These are being set up by councils as notfor-profit organisations to help increase the amount of private rental property available for those low-income families who are being pushed out of the market due to rising rental prices. There can be benefits to being part of such a scheme and most

councils offer a fully managed letting service with many having other benefits, such as guaranteed rental income even when the property is empty, regular visits to ensure the upkeep of the property and the guarantee that the property is handed back in good condition. If you are interested, contact your local council to see if they have a scheme in place.

deposit in a governmentapproved scheme ✔ Check your tenant has

the right to rent ( ✔ Give your tenant a

copy of the ‘How to rent’ checklist ( ✔ Fit and test smoke

alarms and carbon monoxide alarms ✔ Check your insurance ✔ Tell your mortgage

company ✔ Make sure you have an

inventory @ArmyandYou


Claiming compensation Did you know DIO has a compensation scheme in the UK for missed appointments and for significant issues at move-in for all SFA and SSFA? Here's the procedure you’ll need to follow to claim… MISSED APPOINTMENTS FOR MAINTENANCE £30 HIGH STREET VOUCHER If a contractor fails to turn up within the agreed time and doesn’t provide adequate notice. l Adequate notice is classed as before 5pm the previous day – this can be a phone call, voice message, text and/or email. l If the contractor is running late on the day and calls ahead and a later time is agreed, then this won’t be classed as a missed appointment. If you can be there for the later time then agree to it – if the system is abused it could be withdrawn and ultimately the aim is to get the job done! l

SIGNIFICANT DEFECTS AT MOVE-IN £50-£100 HIGH STREET VOUCHER If the SFA is uninhabitable at move-in and you have to be temporarily housed in a hotel, welfare house or permanently in another SFA, the compensation will be a £100 voucher. l

If there are issues causing significant disruption at movein such as cleanliness including carpets and cooker, or total loss of an amenity such as heating, hot water or cooker, the compensation will be either £50 or £100. l For a claim to be approved, all issues must be recorded on the paperwork you sign at move-in so it is vitally important that you take your time to inspect the SFA thoroughly and ensure that any issues are noted before you sign for the house. l


appointment: claim must be made within 14 days. Evidence should be provided where possible. l Move-in defects: only issues detailed on the move-in paperwork will be considered. Take photographic evidence to support your claim where possible. l All claims must include: ✔ Date of appointment you are claiming for ✔ Name and phone number


address the claim relates to ✔ Reason for claim ✔ Any additional information (photos) ✔ For missed appointments include job reference number, date and time of notification of postponement/cancellation and any other details ✔ For move-in issues provide e1132 reference number, details of issues identified and any other action taken ✔ Claims should be made within 14 days and sent to the DIO Compensation Claim Team either using the template on the defence intranet (DII) or to – a response will be given within one month. No appeals process is available, but if you are unhappy with the outcome you’ll be able to go through the existing complaints process. If you are having issues with this process, please let Cat Calder, AFF’s Housing Specialist, know at &

RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWN: MOVING OUT Several of you have come to AFF for advice on what you are responsible for when you leave SFA because of a relationship breakdown. Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist, explains what the rules are… ONCE the serving person has changed their PStat Cat, moved into Single Living Accommodation (SLA) and notified the DIO loss of entitlement team, the spouse/civil partner and any other occupants over the age of 18 will be issued with a Notice to Vacate (NTV) allowing them to stay in the SFA for up to 93 days. The serving person will also be issued with a NTV. An assessment of the SFA will take place – the appointment date/time will be in the NTV pack. The accommodation officer will visit the property and establish any damage or work that needs to be done and any issues raised at this point will be the responsibility of the soldier. It’s important to ensure that any issues identified are recorded on the paperwork. At the same time, all keys will be checked, the soldier will return their set to the remaining family members and meters will be read. The soldier will still pay for the SFA for the 93 days, but during this time the remaining family members will be responsible for paying utility bills and any new damages or cleaning for the final move-out appointment. If you find yourself in this situation and would like any support through this process, please email AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder ( autumn 2017 Army&You 31

Mums’ strength in Reserve Lincolnshire mothers explain how the Army Reserve is helping them fulfil their ambitions of having a military career…


RIVATE Kerry Goldsmith (37) and Private Michelle Isles (34) originally met when working for the Post Office and soon realised they had similar interests. Kerry is a single mum with three children, 14-year-old twins and a four-year-old, and Michelle has two children aged 11 and nine. After dedicating time to their families, both ladies wanted to enjoy time for themselves,

whilst making their children proud. They joined 160 (Lincoln) Transport Squadron, passing out from basic soldiering skills training last year. They have supported each other through each stage of the process. Kerry said: “I wanted a new challenge in my life, so joining the Army Reserve with Michelle has been great. It has been difficult at times, particularly getting to grips with the physical training. I’ve never been one to enjoy exercise but thanks to the training, I’ve improved my fitness and feel healthier for it. “I wanted to make my kids proud and show them that I was serious about achieving something I had always dreamt of doing. I swapped my TV for a treadmill and I haven’t looked back. This year, I want to complete my HGV driving courses so I will be qualified to drive what I call ‘the big stuff’. “My parents have been fantastic in helping with childcare. They have seen a big difference in me and have noticed that my

confidence has developed and I seem more like the ‘old me’.” Michelle previously spent three-and-a-half years as a full-time member of the RAF before having her children, but decided to leave the Forces to spend more time at home. She explained: “I’ve been around the military for much of my adult life. My ex-husband served with the RAF so the children and I travelled around with him as his career developed. I always hoped that the time would come for me to re-join the military myself, so when I heard about the Army Reserve, I knew it sounded right up my street.” “Kerry and I really don’t have a lot of spare time, but hopefully we have demonstrated that if you really want to do something, you can make it work. I feel like I have got my career back, and I still get to spend time with my children. The great thing about the Army Reserve is that you can fit it around your life, your family and your job.” &

To find out more about the Army Reserves, visit

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HO let the dads out? (WLTDO) is a chaplaincy initiative to create a space for fathers to engage with their children and other dads. “When they’re back with the family, Army dads can often feel de-skilled as fathers, sometimes just ‘child minding’ until mum can get on with the parenting,” said padre Steve Franklin. There’s a thriving group of dads who meet monthly in Aldershot’s Connaught Community Centre to play, relax and usually do a craft activity. “There are only two rules,” added Steve. “No women and there must be bacon sandwiches.” It’s proving to be very popular. Martin has been attending WLTDO since it began in

November last year. “I really look forward to having this time with my three children,” he explained. “The pace of life today both inside and outside of work is frantic, so to have these two hours each month is very precious to me.” “I often return home from work long after my children are asleep,” added fellow attendee Chris. “WLTDO gives me time with my children in a safe, fun space. The chaplaincy team always make sure we have a good supply of coffee and bacon rolls and the bouncy castle is a massive hit with the kids.” WLTDO aims to get dads thinking and open up discussion, whilst having a noisy and lively time with their children. Mums are not left out as the group has

arranged discounts at coffee shops in town so they can have some chill time too. Pop along on the first Saturday of every month 9.30am to 11.30am in Aldershot or, to find a group near you, go to Do you have a good initiative

going on in your Service community? We would love to hear about it – send an email to &

Who let the dads out?

Being a father in the Forces can be a fraught affair, but Army&You discovered an initiative that’s helping to bring dads together…

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autumn 2017 Army&You 33

New kid on the block Happy and settled children make great learners. Whether your child is starting school in autumn for the first time, or if this is their fourth or fifth school in as many years, Lucy Scott, AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist, has been exploring what assists children most when they start somewhere new…


HERE are some steps you can take before you move on posting, or to your forever home. “It’s never too early to start planning your transition,” explained Kate McCullough, AFF’s Transition Liaison. “Research schools in the new area and look at school websites. Visit the schools where possible before putting down preferences.” CEAS parent support officer Donna McCartney advised: “It’s important that the school and the class teacher in particular get to know you as a Service family. “This will help them to

support your child in the best possible way.”

HOW CAN PARENTS HELP? Teacher Sarah Haworth said: “It is important to give the child a sense of security before they stay at school for the first time.”

SCHOOL SUPPORT The schools themselves also have great tips to share. “We aim to settle all our children in by supplying them with a fabulous resource called My Passport,” explained Emma Leeson, parent and pupil support worker at The Avenue Primary School.

“Children fill this in before they arrive at our school giving us a great starting point and hopefully putting them at ease at what can be an emotional time.”

SETTING A FOUNDATION The MOD Directorate of Children and Young People has a useful ‘Service families on the move’ booklet that you can pick up in your local HIVE or email DCYP-CEAS-Enquiries@ It explains the processes that most families go thorough when moving and looks particularly at how people feel about moving, with ideas on

Children’s checklist WHAT YOU CAN DO AS PARENTS

VISIT: If possible, visit the school before your child starts. SUITABILITY: No matter their age, your child will benefit from seeing their new school environment ahead of their first day. TRANSITION: See if it’s possible to have a phased transition so your child can take time to adjust to their new school. BEING THERE: Consider dropping off and collecting your child from school for the first few days. BE HONEST AND UPFRONT: Let the school know if your child has had any problems in previous schools. The more honest and upfront you can be, the more able the school is to provide appropriate support. RECORDS: Documents from educational psychologists and other support teams from the local authority can take time to arrive. If you have copies, bring them along to the school. Reports, levels and test scores are also beneficial. FAMILIARISE: Talk to your child about what to expect. Meet the teacher, see where the classroom and toilets are. Talk over homework requirements, things they will need and any clubs to enable your child to hit the ground running. 34 Army&You autumn 2017

how to explain timescales and other suggestions on how to talk to your children.

AFF’S WORK AFF believes children should be given the opportunity to reach their potential. As part of our ongoing work, we are looking in more detail at how children manage transition and whether some circumstances are more of a barrier than others. We have been discussing this with government departments, researchers and charities. Let Lucy know your experiences at &

You’ve secured a place, so how can you and the new school help your child settle in smoothly?

THINGS YOU CAN SUGGEST TO YOUR SCHOOL BUDDY: Provide a buddy for your child and introduce them before their first day. SETTLING IN TIME: Allow a settling in week where your child visits school for a short time and then builds up their involvement. OUTLINE THE WORK ROUTINE: Homework expectations, equipment and important information will help your child to feel more confident that they are doing what everyone else is doing, and stop them from feeling isolated. CHECKLIST OF INFORMATION: To help ensure they don’t miss out key details taking place during the school day. SEN: Regarding extra behavioural, social or educational needs, your child might benefit from having a prepared space and a known adult to go to if they feel overwhelmed. ADVICE FROM YOU: Telling your child’s school about what works well to diffuse any challenging behaviour is really helpful for teachers to help limit problems and deal with any outbursts. Forewarned is forearmed! UNIQUE NEEDS: Check whether the school is prepared to be flexible if your child has extra needs.



Above (from left): Lexi and Finley, who moved to Somerset; Felicity and Katherine; Youngsters from The Avenue Primary School. Below: Wincanton Primary pupils

Settling into school Family: Mum Laura and kids Lexi and Finley

Family: Mum Michelle and daughters Felicity & Katherine

Name: Emma Leeson, parent and pupil support worker

Name: Mr Wilson, head teacher

Moving to: Somerset

Moving to: North Yorkshire

School: The Avenue Primary School, Warminster

School: Wincanton Primary School

Before our arrival

Before our arrival

Before they arrive

Before they arrive

Prior to our recent move into our own home, the head teacher gave us a tour of the school, showed the children their new classrooms and introduced them to their teachers and fellow pupils. It was very helpful for Lexi and Finley to see their new school environment.

We were lucky that Felicity was returning to her old school and class, but the school still went out of its way to welcome her back, sending a letter and photo from the class before we moved saying how much they were looking forward to her return.

I contact parents within the first few days to introduce myself. I normally ask if there are any upcoming exercises or periods where family members may be absent. It’s always good to know this in advance if possible.

Army families have been arriving over the last three years. Some have come from Germany where things were very different; they were used to seeing tanks every day and were able to walk around the camp – it’s not the same here.

Extra support

Extra support

I usually run some drop-in sessions where children can meet. CEAS is a great resource which I also recommend for advice and support ( It’s good to have leaflets available to distribute when needed.

We encourage children to talk about what it is like to be a military child alongside civilian children talking about what it is like to be them.

Extra support They were allocated a ‘buddy’ with a military background, even though the school doesn’t have a large intake of military children, to help from their first day. It became apparent that they both had some learning gaps from moving every two years. The teachers quickly picked up on this and have provided some additional support. Lexi has also benefited from the school’s Emotional Literacy Support group who have worked with her on a one-to-one basis to help build her self-esteem and confidence.

Smooth transition Finley said: “When I started my new school, my teacher took me out of the class a few times to see how I was feeling and to talk about how I was settling in. She told me I was doing really well and it made me feel better. I also got a medal and certificate from the head teacher because I had settled in so well.”

Extra support On her first day, a teaching assistant welcomed her at the gates. Her class teacher and the head teacher also sought me out to introduce themselves and check that all had gone okay.

Smooth transition She had a really smooth and happy transition back into school, which also meant I could focus on settling my youngest into school when she started in reception in September.

Smooth transition The Service Children in State Schools group is also a must for schools keeping up-to-date with important changes – they provide a wealth of resources. We have a welcome tab on our website for Service families so that they are able to find out more about our local area such as how far we are from the ‘patch’.

Smooth transition Some families have soldiers on tour. If we know, we can heighten our awareness and put a little bit of extra armour around the children to support them.

autumn 2017 Army&You 35

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School report

Army&You highlights the excellent support that schools worldwide show our military children. This edition, we're heading to Folkestone...

We provide new families with an activity book and DVD featuring Service children at the school who give a guided tour of the area. All new pupils have a class-based buddy and a member of staff meets the family in the first few days to address any concerns. These check-ins continue until the child is confident in their new environment.

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

ool Name of sch l

Cheriton Primary Sch




Number of s Service pupil

120 out of 476

effective in support for children when parents are deployed.

Are there any special projects involving Service children?

Kent has an annual Service Children’s Conference to celebrate the life of military families. The battalion also runs an annual activity day at each of the schools with Service children. Nepali children have lessons in a bespoke classroom each week developing their Nepali language skills and celebrating Nepali culture.

What do the kids say?

If a parent is away, we try to ensure that parent evenings and performances fit around deployments. We have staff who are able to signpost to local services – such as dentists. We run a toddler group, art activities, a weekend forest school for families, as well as college courses on the school site.

One Cheriton Primary pupil explained: “I have been to five schools, Cheriton twice! It was great to come back here especially when they asked me which class I would like to join so that I could be with my friends again.”

Are there any military links?

And the parents?

Our governing body has two military members and the unit welfare officer for the 2nd Bn Royal Gurkha Rifles is a frequent visitor. The commanding officer, 2IC and Gurkha Major have a great community focus. This strong relationship enables the school to be

“The staff are sympathetic to the challenges of military life. With the soldiers away they are all a great support to both children and families. Cheriton is one of the best-led and most welcoming school environments that we have encountered. First-class all round!” &

Is your child’s school going that extra mile to support Service children? Would you like your school to feature in the future? Contact Army&You for details by emailing

autumn 2017 Army&You 37

Images: Richard Maxted Photography

How does the school help Service children settle in?

Sparkling WITH



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motivated we know we have the time and flexibility to go at full speed when we are ready.”

outside of term-time. Willem said: “The best thing about learning at home is the flexible schedule. It is fun because you get to learn at your own pace, be more advanced for certain subjects and I can take the time I need.” Natalia uses a range of online tools when teaching, including live courses which enable Willem to interact with other students, or asynchronous classes – recorded teaching accessed on a schedule that suits the user. She said: “Living in another country can mean you have to look for alternative sources – being able to get something instantly downloaded to a device is great.”



There is no financial support for Army families who choose to home educate, which can be expensive. However, this is balanced against not having to buy uniforms and other school mandated items, along with being able to take holidays

In some countries there are

Home comforts: Willem’s classroom and during a home-school trip to Rome

Natalia blogs about home education and travel at

Home schooling overseas Home education can be an appealing choice, offering flexibility with learning wherever you live and however often you move. This was the case for Natalia Forrest who has home educated her son Willem in the UK, Germany and now Turkey. She explains how they’ve made it work…


ATALIA believes that the internet has made home education much easier – especially for families outside of their home countries. “While there is pressure on you to do things right there is also less pressure to measure your child to fit in with what’s ‘normal’,” she explained. “It also means that we can follow our passions in travel and Willem’s ballet, and if we have days where we are less

networks of home education families to tap into, but socialising can be difficult when you are moving around and there can be a lack of support around you. Natalia has had to find new ways of keeping Willem in touch with his peers. She added: “Being in a country where we don’t speak the language and don’t have access to the school network, has meant we have had to put in extra work to give Willem access to social opportunities with activities such as ballet and scouts.” If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s education, contact AFF Education Specialist Lucy Scott at &


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40 Army&You autumn 2017



Super staff (from left): Mrs Rowntree spends time with some of Forres Sandle Manor’s many boarders; Day Matron Susan Hodges with a pupil at Farleigh School; and Christ College Brecon’s David Bush

A NOBLE PROFESSION We hear from the men and women at the front of the class about what inspired – and continues to inspire – them to take up teaching...


OR all of the incredible facilities on offer at Britain’s schools, the words of children’s author Michael Morpurgo – “it’s the teacher that makes the difference” – are a reminder of the power resting with the person at the front of the classroom. Tasked with playing a lead role in youngsters’ academic and personal development, teachers are the key asset in the mission to unlock the potential of successive generations. But with such high stakes resting on their performance and additional pressure in the form of Ofsted inspections, paperwork and pastoral care

never far away, what makes people pick teaching as their profession of choice?

INSPIRED TO TEACH The saying that “you never forget a good teacher” holds particular weight with Clare Rowntree, Head of Boarding at Forres Sandle Manor. She said: “My teachers inspired me to follow in their footsteps, particularly my music teachers who ignited my passion for music-making and said that I would become a teacher myself one day!” The same holds true for David Bush, Deputy Head Academic at Christ College Brecon. He explained: “I had a very good

experience in my own education about how teachers can make a difference to individual pupils,” adding that his love of English literature inspired his choice of career. The love of a particular subject also drew Dr John Weeds, Headmaster at Cranbrook School, into the classroom. He got into teaching after completing a classics degree at Cambridge and then going on to do a PGCE at Durham University, where he met his wife, Sarah. Dr Weeds told us: “I absolutely loved classics – especially the language, literature and history of Greece and Rome – and still do. I could think of no better

way to retain my connection with the subject than by going out there and teaching it.” Sarah O’Neill, of Scotland’s Queen Victoria School, said she was motivated to teach through a love of history and a desire to work with people. “My mum suggested teaching and from year 10 I knew that it was a good choice,” she added.

PERFECT PROFESSION The stresses and strains of teaching may not be for everyone, but many teachers view their role as a vocation. Angharad Holloway, Headteacher at Talbot Heath School, described the profession as being about “lighting a flame ›› autumn 2017 Army&You 41

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EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL that will go on to burn brightly.” She said: “I was motivated to take up teaching owing to my desire to imbue young people with intellectual curiosity and a love of learning that will help to shape their future lives.” Joan Newby, Director of Pastoral of Care at Malvern St James Girls’ School, admits to being sure of her career choice from a very early age. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to teach – right from the age of seven, I knew that’s what I wanted to do,” she said. “I love the changing nature of teaching; it’s such a dynamic environment to work in.” The opportunity to benefit others in a professional capacity was enough to tempt St Mary’s Shaftesbury Prep School Teacher Rebecca Dixon in front of the whiteboard. “I have always been interested in helping others, and as a child thought I might like to be a doctor,” she said. “As I grew older, I had holiday jobs looking after children; many friends said I should become a teacher. “It turned out that I didn’t enjoy science nearly enough to work in a medical field, but I loved English and drama, so using those skills, combined with the rewarding aspect of helping others and my enjoyment of children, naturally led me to teaching!” For Alex Crowhurst-Jones, Assistant House Parent and Year Six Form Taker, it was the love of working with children that sparked a career

in teaching. She said: “They have an innate curiosity about life and the opportunity to nurture and guide them, engender and share in their love of learning, is great fun and hugely rewarding.”

Dr John Weeds, Cranbrook School

Alex Foreman, The Duke of Yorks’ Royal Military School

MILITARY MATTERS While many teachers join the profession straight from their studies, some enter the classroom having first served in other fields – including the Armed Forces. Rookwood School Deputy Head Richard Hick became a teacher after leaving the Army as a lieutenant colonel following a 20-year career. He had served on two consecutive operational deployments and made the decision to retrain after thinking about what he most enjoyed. “I realised what I was really passionate about was seeing others develop and playing a part in their learning and progression,” he said. Operational deployments also played a pivotal role in Haberdashers’ Monmouth School’s Ian Lawrence’s conversion to the classroom. He assisted in reopening a school in Goradze which had been closed for three years due to sniper fire and visited a school for the blind in Kabul where minimal resources were still met with great optimism. He explained: “However gloomy my deployment was, it was the local children who often inspired me. Their vulnerability,

Ian Lawrence, Haberdashers Monmouth School

Joan Newby, Malvern St James Girls’ School

resilience and courage inspired me to become a teacher.” The opportunity to escape the monotony of the corporate world was enough to entice Declan Rogers. The English teacher and Senior School Registrar at Taunton School quit his job at Barclays Bank in search of something more fulfilling, less boring and where turning a profit wasn’t the main motivation. “I gave one of my former teachers a ring,” explained Declan. “He said he thought teaching was ‘a great profession’ and told me to throw in an application. I have loved teaching ever since and still enjoy the classroom as much now as I did when I very first started. There can’t be many jobs where you can say that!”

headteacher for three years at King’s School, a Service Children’s Education School, based in Germany,” he explained. “The two schools have many similarities, including links with the military community. “DOYRMS not only attracted me, but my children as well and they both attend the school. “Dukies live and breathe the ‘Looking forward with confidence, looking back with pride’ mantra; everyday I’m amazed by our students and feel the core military values they show for themselves and towards others is evident to anyone they meet – it’s inspiring.” For Jonathan Mercer, the beautiful grounds and buildings at Warminster School were enough to persuade him to apply for a job – but it is the relationships that have cemented his stay. The physics teacher and Housemaster of Old Vicarage said: “What convinced me to accept the role and what keeps me here are the people – both staff and pupils – I have been lucky enough to work with.” Sarah Boutwood, Head of Music at Packwood Haugh School, enjoys the fact that her current employer allows her to fully focus on music teaching in an idyllic Shropshire setting. She pinpoints the school’s surrounds as one of the benefits of her post – but also singles out her colleagues, job satisfaction and even catering for praise.

SCHOOL SELECTION After making the decision to become teachers, those engaging with education face the important task of singling out the school at which they wish to ply their trade. From location and facilities to specialisms and general “feel”, there are a host of factors which influence individuals’ decisions to start – and stay – at any particular school. For Alex Foreman, Principal of The Duke of York’s Royal Military School (DOYRMS), the Services have been a common theme in his recent professional placements. “I joined DOYRMS at the beginning of 2017 after being

autumn 2017 Army&You 43

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Sarah Boutwood, Packwood Haugh School

Richard Hick, Rookwood School

Simon Heard, St Lawrence College

Angharad Holloway, Talbot Heath School

“Seeing pupils emerge as stronger, more confident and happier individuals is without doubt the most rewarding aspect of my role.” – Jonathan Mercer, Warminster School – “[I enjoy] the excellent school food, including the frequent supply of cakes in the staff room,” she told us. “Also being within striking distance of the Lake District for fell walking – my husband and I are working our way through all 214 Wainwrights!” Location and colleagues are also among the motivations for Simon Heard, Deputy Head (Registrar) at St Lawrence College. He explained: “[The college] is in a great location for us as a family – proximity to London and to France, great beaches, fantastic cycling routes and loads of places to visit like Canterbury and Dover Castle. “I love working here because the job is always busy, interesting and inspiring. The staff here are great and work really hard and the school is doing really well, which helps to keep the working environment so positive.” Malvern St James’ Joan Newby praised her school’s “homefrom-home” community, adding: “It is located in the beautiful country town of Malvern and the setting is so picturesque. “I felt it was the perfect career move for me – and I have loved working here ever since.” Alex Crowhurst-Jones was equally effusive about

the beautiful Hampshire countryside surrounding Farleigh School. She continued: “Being a catholic school, with a genuinely caring ethos which permeates every area of school life, and a staff room packed with committed and talented teachers, make it a very special place indeed to live and work.” Alastair Cook, Headmaster at The Downs Malvern, told us that the way the school’s pupils engage with the broad academic curriculum and develop as people keep him enthused. “The inspiration for producing such an exciting environment for our children is simply the expressions of joyful awe of learning and celebration of achievements that adorn their faces every day,” explained Alastair, who arrived at the school following a headship in Kenya’s Great Rift Valley.

WELCOME CHALLENGE Wonderful settings, classy colleagues and enthusiastic learners aside, the pressures of modern education mean that teaching does not come without its challenges. But for the teachers we spoke to, each potential pitfall was viewed more as an opportunity – and was more than matched by the number of rewards that

teaching brings. The “seismic” changes in technology and the need to stay relevant were highlighted by Declan Rogers at Taunton School, who spoke of the importance of embracing change rather than being tempted to always stick with tried-and-tested methods. He added: “No question the most rewarding part of the job is seeing the kids develop; either those whom I have taught or those whom I have helped to come to the school.” Warminster School’s Jonathan Mercer said that while his pastoral responsibilities were a serious subject, he relished the opportunity to enact positive changes in pupils by allowing them to challenge themselves whilst feeling safe and supported. He said: “Seeing them emerge as stronger, more confident and happier individuals is without doubt the most rewarding aspect of my role.” For DOYRMS Principal Alex Foreman, the chance to develop his school’s leadership capabilities and empower staff and students was a significant plus, allowing him to ensure “great opportunities, great teaching and great outcomes”. Richard Hick at Rookwood School identified his biggest


autumn 2017 Army&You 45


Declan Rogers, Taunton School

Alastair Cook, The Downs Malvern School

Jonathan Mercer, Warminster School

“It is an immense privilege being a house parent, playing such an important part in a child’s life.” – Clare Rowntree, Forres Sandle Manor –

into adulthood.” His enduring love of classics means that Cranbrook’s Dr Weeds gets great pleasure from spending time in front of pupils in the classroom, but his senior position has required him to develop equal expertise in management. Reflecting on his financial responsibilities, he said: “We have been remarkably resilient as a school and even though funding has been tight we have innovated when it would have been easier to take refuge. “We have mounted a successful fundraising campaign to equip ourselves with a new sixth form centre [and] continue to refine our teaching and learning processes so that student-centred learning and student leadership remain defining characteristics.” Clare Rowntree at Forres

Sandle Manor said that admin challenges such as keeping on top of her email inbox are more than balanced out by the perks of her job. She explained: “My daily interaction with the children is without doubt the most rewarding aspect. It is an immense privilege being a house parent, playing such an important part in a child’s life.” And Ian Lawrence concluded that he enjoyed applying the core values he learned in the Army to his pupils’ education. He said: “Watching boys generate the courage to try something outside their comfort zone can also be exhilarating and seeing them develop is enormously satisfying. “One of the greatest challenges is learning to accept ‘failure’ and then encouraging boys to get up and try again.” n

SCHOOLS DIRECTORY QUEEN VICTORIA SCHOOL Dunblane, Scotland ROOKWOOD SCHOOL Andover, Hants ST LAWRENCE COLLEGE Ramsgate, Kent ST MARY’S SCHOOL Shaftesbury, Dorset TALBOT HEATH Bournemouth, Dorset TAUNTON SCHOOL Taunton, Somerset THE DOWNS MALVERN Colwall, Worcestershire WARMINSTER SCHOOL Warminster, Wiltshire

Rebecca Dixon, St Mary’s Shaftesbury

WANT TO FEATURE IN AN UPCOMING EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL? Contact the team at TylerBale Communications by emailing autumn 2017 Army&You 47

To read more from our panel of teachers, visit

challenge as finding many youngsters too used to having so much done for them. He said: “Drawing upon my experience of working life and the challenges I faced in the Army, I strongly believe we need to develop pupils’ independence and resilience – to do that we have to give our young men and women responsibility and let them get on. “Of course we support, teach and guide but I am a real fan of allowing young people to ‘lead in their learning’ and to think on their own.” Christ College Brecon’s David Bush pinpointed playing a part in helping pupils achieve the best results they can as his personal highlight. “It still bothers me after 30 years in the job if someone doesn’t live up to their potential,” he explained. “As a senior manager I also enjoy solving problems and trying to offer balance and perspective on whole-school issues.” The opportunity to make children smile and enjoy their learning remains a powerful motivator for Mrs V at Chafyn Grove, who told us: “It is important to have a sense of fun and humour in teaching so as to engage the children and make memories that they will carry with them through

UNITED KINGDOM How long have you lived in Scotland? We have lived in Colinton in Edinburgh for three years. What’s your quarter like? Nice! The garden is a sun trap – when Scotland gets graced with a sunny day. The best part of our quarter is its location. We are in Colinton village, which offers shops and eateries and is a ten-minute walk from the stunning Pentland Hills – great for running and dog walks. We’re on a direct bus route into the city centre. Do you work? I don’t currently work, but I’m studying from home and I was the musical director of the Edinburgh Military Wives Choir for a while. Being close to the city there are plenty of job opportunities and the area is well placed for a commute into the city.

LIFE IN SCOTLAND Army spouse Lucy tells us about her family’s experience of a posting north of the border…

How have you found schools/childcare? Both of our children attend a nursery about ten minutes away as the local pre-school and crèche only take children from two years. It’s been a great pre-school education for them and they both love it. It’s been good for them to mix with children off the

patch as well as making good pals through the military community. They’ve made some really good friends that we’ll definitely keep in touch with. Where do families get together? There are weekly coffee mornings run by the welfare team and Sharpe’s Retreat (the local welfare facility) gets used most days. Thursday afternoon’s craft club is the highlight of our week. Edinburgh is such a vibrant city, so there is heaps to do outside of the military community. Museums are free – the National Museum is a must, with or without children – and there are so many beautiful outdoor areas to explore; beaches, hills, parks – Edinburgh has a lot to offer. What do you enjoy most about living in Scotland? There is so much to do. We are kicking ourselves for not having ventured north more during our time here but we will certainly come back to explore more. It’s further away from family and friends than other postings, but at least when people come to stay you can really show off where you live! I love being so close to the beach and having the best of both worlds – city and countryside – on our doorstep.

UNLOCKING POTENTIAL Whenever anyone visits Warminster School there’s one thing everyone agrees on, and that’s our sense of community. Visitors always comment on how special it is, how unusual. And it’s not just our teaching staff – from prep pupils to catering staff, our sense of warmth and our values are evident in whoever you cross paths with – be it our groundsmen, matrons, sports coaches or sixth formers. Because we all work together closely to keep those values alive. We embrace all of our pupils – whatever their talents. Working together to create a safe and nurturing environment where our pupils can fulfil their full potential. Please reserve your place online for our next Open Day so you can discover just how special our sense of community is. 01985 210160

48 Army&You autumn 2017



Scotland spotlight A

POSTING to Scotland might mean an opportunity to get back to your roots or an adventure a long way from home but either way, Scotland has lots to offer Army families. Whether you are planning to soak up the culture of the capital, try dolphin spotting in the waters off Inverness or play on the beaches at Leuchars, you will be spoilt for choice of how to spend your free time. However, there can be issues and that’s why this year AFF has made Scotland a focus. We’ve been listening to those of you living in Scotland and getting a greater understanding of your life there. We surveyed families across Scotland and held a roadshow in Kinloss for you to come and tell us about your lives. From Brexit and Scottish independence concerns to F&C and housing queries, your issues have been heard and fed back to our specialists, the chain of command and Scottish Government. To read more about the Scotland survey results, visit

EDUCATION Following the Roadshow, it was clear that education is a big concern, with access to school places, curriculum differences and the impact of the later starting age causing issues. There are

different term dates – the summer holidays tend to start at the end of June and end in the middle of August. One family told AFF: “It has not been a problem for us moving to Scotland, but I am worried we will have a real problem with our next move because my son will have missed his first year of school.” AFF is investigating and has taken all your concerns back to stakeholders to see if more support can be made available to Army families. Lucy Scott, AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist said: “There are more similarities than there are differences. Scottish schools and many organisations, such the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), are doing a lot of work around supporting Armed Forces children. There’s also a useful Education in Scotland booklet produced by the DCYP and a wealth of information at” If you have any education concerns, contact Lucy at

However, it can be trickier in the more rural areas and our survey and roadshow highlighted that finding suitable childcare is an issue for many. There are lots of initiatives helping spouses find regular employment or supporting you to start your own business. For example, Recruit for Spouses launched operations in Scotland last year to help you find jobs which match your skills and aspirations. They have already had some considerable success, so if you’d like some support, visit The Supporting the Unsung Hero Business Start-Up Programme, developed specifically for Armed Forces families, has also recently run a successful course in Scotland.

EMPLOYMENT Depending on where you live, employment opportunities vary. For families living in the Edinburgh or Glasgow areas, there are plenty of options.

TAKING ACTION AFF regularly works with the Scottish Government. We sit at the Scottish cross-party parliamentary group for the

Armed Forces community and present to the members issues that families can face whilst serving in Scotland. We also have a six-monthly meeting with the Scottish policy department, which is keen to hear your issues and look at policies that may affect serving families. Whether you’re in Scotland for a brief time or staying a while there is much to explore and enjoy. If you do have any problems there is always someone on hand to help you, whether it’s the welfare team or the AFF Scotland Co-ordinator via &

autumn 2017 Army&You 49

Open Day

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A postcard from...

MONS How long have you been an Army family? Six years. We have had postings in Germany, Aldershot, London and now SHAPE. Time in Mons: 18 months. How many other military families live in Mons? We are serving on a NATO base with roughly 190 UK Service personnel. There are some patches but there are also some families living in the local community. We have all of the other NATO families surrounding us which is one of the fabulous things about SHAPE life - I have never seen so many different military uniforms on one base. What's your quarter like? Lovely - it's a newlyrefurbished bungalow with a huge garden backing onto fields. We live alongside other UK families and locals and the best part is that we are close to SHAPE, which makes getting to work and school easy. Are there employment/training opportunities? Yes. SHAPE has quite a large number of spouses that work within EJSU and the school. I work as the military physio in the medical centre.

What about schools/childcare? There is an international school at SHAPE with a British section. Daisy goes to early-years in the mornings and then crosses to the Belgian school in the afternoon. She learns French and immerses herself in the culture. Sam is in the American nursery where he is very happy. Access to childcare is limited however and many families struggle, but there are local settings that can be tapped into. Where do Army families get together? We have a popup coffee shop that is run by community volunteers. There's also a Home-Start facility called SHAPE House and we have a Brit Bar and mess facility too. On base there is a Starbucks cafe, a cinema and a Pizza Bowl. Who supports families? Home-Start, the welfare team, the medical centre and each other - our community. What's the best thing about living in Mons? For me, it's that Daisy is learning to speak French - she'll be better than I am soon! We are lucky to live in an international community. The road maintenance and the road rules can cause a couple of headaches, but I'd definitely recommend this posting to others.


Emma, soldier Stuart, Daisy (3),

Sam (21 months) and Labrador Harvey

WHERE: Mons, Belgium

autumn 2017 Army&You 51


DELIVERING DRAWDOWN ALTHOUGH the full drawdown from Germany is still some time off, families can be assured that HQ BFG is already working to ensure the process goes smoothly. BFG’s website ( contains a section on rebasing and there are publications available in the HIVE that provide checklists and information. The HIVE also stocks guides on the different areas where you may relocate. “AFF is working with all units in Germany to ensure that you’re kept up-to-date with relevant information relating to rebasing,” said AFF’s Regional Manager Germany, Katy Brookfield. “We will be delivering families’ briefs in conjunction with unit welfare teams that will offer tips on maximising your time in Germany and preparing for life after BFG.” When exact dates for rebasing are released, we’ll let you know. Keep an eye on and social media for details.

HIVE OF INFORMATION A visit to your local HIVE is an essential part of your rebasing research. There’s a wealth of information on hand to help you get to grips with your move. l Departure Packs: an outline of the whole move process l Checklist to help you get organised l Useful information for arrival back in the UK l Noticeboards with details about: – The departure process – Nursery and school applications – Local services and local area information – Car shipping – Pet transport – National Insurance claims for non-serving partners – Moving schools Find out more at welfare-support

52 Army&You autumn 2017

Pictured, from left: Dover and Cheriton’s head teacher is greeted by a pupil at Hornbill School in Brunei; Families in Dhekelia attend a briefing about 2 PWRR’s move to the UK from Cyprus; Adam Bayliss with his daughters in Cyprus

Mass movement There’s a lot to consider when your Army family moves – housing, jobs, schools and the practical logistics of simply getting from A-to-B. When a whole unit or battalion is due a posting at the same time, it becomes a military operation for the organisers, particularly for regiments overseas. Here, we look at how some mass moves are managed…


VERY three or four years, the Royal Gurkha Rifles in Brunei rotates with its sister battalion based in Shorncliffe, Kent. For some, this routine move is second nature but for new families, especially those who have come directly from Nepal, it can be a daunting prospect. However, help is at hand. For this summer’s move, family briefings started back in November last year, with AFF’s former Brunei Co-ordinator Michelle Gurung on hand at each one to support families. She said: “I referred issues to AFF’s specialists and raised concerns to the unit welfare team.” Second Battalion, The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment

(2 PWRR) has been filtering back to Cottesmore from Cyprus over the summer. Getting information out to families and co-ordinating documentation has been key to ensuring the move has gone smoothly. “In contrast to an individual move, the process is completed for the family,” said 2 PWRR’s unit welfare officer. “It can give them the feeling that they have little control, but this is normal as a unit move requires deadlines for documentation, removals, visas, schooling, flights, hotels, surveys, and other numerous activities to be sequenced to move within a given timeline.” Esme Bayliss, whose husband Adam is a corporal in 2 PWRR, said: “When we came to Cyprus

as individual movers, every element of the move required us to contact different people and organisations, chase up applications, and we were only given information at the last minute – it was stressful and quite daunting. “This time everything has been planned for us and although this means that some appointments are dictated, we know a lot more about the upcoming move. “The only downside is that it feels like the move has been ‘imminent’ for the last six months and the preparation for it seems to have taken up a big chunk of our time here.”

DESTINATION DETAILS Four 2 PWRR family members @ArmyandYou

accompanied the welfare team on a recce to their new location in Rutland a few months before the move and the findings were presented to all families back in Cyprus after the visit. “Feedback was positive,” added the UWO. “It was essential to minimise rumours.” A secret Facebook page was critical in streamlining the move process and making the information family-friendly. Briefings and visits by external guests were also a help. Esme added: “The unit, clerks and battalion welfare team have been working tirelessly and we’ve been kept informed every step of the way. “After families’ briefs, recces and presentations from CarillionAmey and Rutland Council, this is the most informed I have ever been about a move and the area we’re moving to.”

FINDING SCHOOLS Overseas-to-UK school admissions are a huge challenge with such a large influx of new Service pupils. In Brunei, schools have facilitated a smooth transition, with exchange visits

from head teachers, while 2 PWRR has been helped by a proactive county council in Rutland. “We addressed key timelines and ensured all families had applications submitted. The school heads and staff also played a huge role in ensuring transfer of documents,” explained the UWO. Sharmila Malla whose husband is in HQ Coy, 1 RGR, in Brunei, told us: “Initially it was confusing when applying online as it was asking for a UK address, but I used the Shorncliffe camp address and successfully registered. We’ve now received confirmation of my son’s school place and got our preferred choice.”

GARRISON INFRASTRUCTURE Such a large number of families leaving can create a hole in some areas of a garrison’s support network. Where a job role is deemed vital for continuity, recruitment from incoming families is considered essential in Brunei. “Special arrangements have been put in place to advertise and interview spouses in the

UK before they arrive,” added Michelle. “Vacancies in Shorncliffe camp are mainly managed by contractors however, 1 RGR organised a jobs fair in the UK for incoming spouses. The unit is liaising with RMP Brunei for spouses who need a Certificate of Good Conduct to work with vulnerable adults or children in the UK.”

MOVING OUT, MOVING IN Managing move-outs has also presented challenges to families and welfare teams. “Some families were concerned regarding the clarity of rules for move-out,” said AFF’s Regional Manager Cyprus Sarah Cooper. “The unit welfare team assured us that families were made aware of the options available and where to go for help.”

ARRIVING IN THE UK Inflexible flights mean arrival in the UK is dependent on large numbers of SFA being ready and up to move-in standard. “If you don’t feel that your SFA is up to move-in standard, we would advise you to record issues on your SFA’s 14-day report,”

said Michelle. Both units have been mindful of helping families settle into their new surroundings. ‘Get you in’ packs were provided on arrival in Cottesmore. 2 PWRR also ran events to showcase all the local amenities and clubs that families can join. &

ON THE MOVE? GO TO... Your soldier’s unit welfare team Facebook groups Germany CarillionAmey Ofsted via Contact your local authority HIVE search autumn winter 2015 2017 Army&You 35 53

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Improving the system T

HE current application process for a settlement visa for entitled family members to join their soldier is complicated, contradictory and confusing. Faced with an increase in enquires – particularly from those on overseas assignments – the F&C team set out to find a solution.

WHAT ARE THE PROBLEMS? l No Armed Forces option on the online form l Families given wrong length of visa l Families having to pay the health surcharge and request a refund l The international enquiries helpline giving out wrong information l Lack of back-up for overseas units l Lack of knowledge about the requirement to keep visas valid at all times and the renewal process l Lack of understanding about the initial ‘call forward’ procedure l Confusion about payment of visas overseas.

WHAT IS THE HOME OFFICE DOING? UKVI has been promising military families their own online form since 2013. This would prevent spouses from being given the

wrong length of visa and having to request a correction. It would also stop spouses having to pay the immigration health surcharge up-front and then waiting six months plus for a refund. AFF F&C Specialist Katherine Houlston went to the Home Office in March this year for an update on this and other issues. She explained: “Unfortunately we were told that it could be another year at least before this issue is resolved, this is because UKVI is overhauling the whole online form. “Our contacts have assured us that there will be an Armed Forces option on the new form. They also promised us that they would contact the international enquiry helpline to provide them with training on Armed Forces rules. We will monitor progress.” Until then it is likely that many spouses will continue to be issued visas for two-and-a-half instead of five years and will continue to have to pay for the health surcharge. If you are in this position, go to the AFF website for information on how to request a correction or refund.

particularly those who are not living in BFG. The AFF F&C team and AFF Regional Manager Overseas met with Maj Dave Coward from Army Personnel Services to discuss the way forward. Katherine added: “He informed us that the new iHIVE overseas location guides will include information relevant to F&C families and that a new F&C guide is being produced specifically for families. “We also requested that all overseas units be provided with guidance about visas, costs and information on how to apply.”



AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade has raised this with the covenant reference group and, as a result, the MOD will liaise more closely with the Home Office. The F&C team is working closely with its overseas teams to improve the information available to those families on overseas assignments. The team has produced a simple step-by-step guide on how to complete the online form. We also plan to produce short video guides to further assist families through the process.

It is clear from recent enquiries that there isn’t enough information about the visa renewal process for spouses on overseas assignments –

If you are experiencing F&C issues whilst stationed overseas, contact the AFF F&C team via &

Case study NATALIA Forrest (pictured above) had to apply to renew her visa whilst stationed in Turkey. She described how she found the process: “The online form is not fit for purpose for people like us who are in slightly unusual situations and there is no advice what to do. “I am a native English speaker with a postgraduate education who has now gone through this situation more than once and I still find the whole process incredibly confusing, frustrating and stressful. “How people who are not native English speakers or do not have much experience filling out complicated forms are meant to cope I don’t know.” autumn 2017 Army&You 55

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Settling after separation We asked Jill Cameron of Scotts Wright Solicitors (, Hannah Myers of The Family Law Company ( and Goughs Solicitors' Richard Bebb ( to explain some of the financial fundamentals that follow a relationship breakdown...

Richard: The only rule of thumb is that the law expects both spouses to contribute according to their ability to do so. If a couple separate, one may also be responsible for making child support payments to the other. Every situation is different, and you should take specialist legal advice tailored to your own position to make sure that you are not paying more, or receiving less, than you should. Of course, separation can place considerable financial pressure on a couple, because there are now two households to run. If necessary a divorce court can rule on how much, if anything, one spouse should pay the other in the short term, based on essential needs and ability to pay. This is called ‘maintenance pending suit’ and, again, you should seek legal advice if this is a problem in your situation.

What is ‘financial disclosure’ and what information am I and my partner expected to share? Jill: It is an important part of both the negotiation and the court-directed process undertaken with a view to reaching a financial settlement within your divorce or judicial separation. Both you and your spouse are under an ongoing duty, both to each other and to the court, if proceedings have been issued, to provide a full, frank and clear disclosure of your financial and other relevant circumstances. The process of disclosure is an ongoing one – if there are

any material changes to your circumstances, then you must disclose them. Financial disclosure is normally done via completion and exchange of Form E, which is intended to give a full picture of each party’s circumstances. You will need to provide details of the value of any property you own and the amount of any mortgage secured against it, the value of your pension and the value of any savings or other assets. You will be expected to provide details of your annual income and your normal weekly or monthly expenditure. Form E is quite cumbersome to complete. Problems can arise if it is not completed properly, so it is best to seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in financial remedy cases to ensure that you are fully compliant.

How can a solicitor help to decide what is a fair settlement? Hannah: A solicitor knows the legal principles behind a fair settlement and what the court will consider if the matter goes before a judge. They will advise you on the best way to negotiate a settlement and assist in obtaining the best outcome for you. Your solicitor will look at the financial disclosures of yourself and your partner and provide advice about your legal standing and what to ask for by way of financial settlement.

Who decides what level of maintenance estranged partners must pay? Hannah: Parties can agree between themselves what maintenance one partner must pay to the other.

Alternatively, the matter may go to court, which will make the decision. Factors include the levels of income of each party, their needs and the standard of living during the marriage. Child maintenance is governed by the child maintenance service. The government stipulates how much child maintenance the non-resident parent must pay to the other dependant on the nonresident parent’s income and how many nights the child stays over with the non-resident parent.

How are pensions divided on divorce? Jill: Pensions can be one of the major assets accumulated during a marriage and, for that reason, they are now capable of being divided on divorce to ensure that both parties can have some form of provision for their retirement. The courts can deal with pensions as follows: l OFFSETTING: setting off the

value of the pension against other assets belonging to the couple going through the divorce, so that one keeps the pension and the other gets to keep other assets of equal/comparative value l PENSION SHARING ORDER: where a share of a party’s pension is transferred to the former spouse who will then become a member of that pension scheme in his or her own right l PENSION ATTACHMENT ORDER: Only available in England and Wales, this is where one party receives a payment out of the other’s pension scheme, both the retirement lump sum element and the annual pension. l EARMARKING ORDER: Only available in Scotland, a lump sum is paid to the former spouse from

the other party’s pension. These are complicated areas to deal with, and there are no hard and fast rules as to how the pension should be divided. In many cases, couples seek assistance by way of an actuarial report looking into the value of the pension pot and suggesting an appropriate form of division.

Who keeps the house? Richard: Like pensions and other assets, if you own a house, it is in the ‘pot’ for consideration on divorce. Unlike other assets, it’s of unique importance as the hub of family life. What happens to it depends on the circumstances in an individual case. For many, the house is needed as a home for the children because the law says that their welfare is the first consideration and it may not be possible to have it sold. Mortgage repayment penalties and the rules of the Forces Help to Buy scheme may apply. This can be hard on the parent who isn’t living there, because they may be denied access to a significant part of assets unless an arrangement is made to transfer the house to the other spouse’s name in exchange for a lump sum payment. In other cases, a sale can be brokered as part of an overall settlement, provided the rehousing needs of the children and the parents can be met. This can be the most important aspect of a divorce because, after food and water, shelter is the most basic human need and a house may have a great deal of equity locked into it. Only an experienced family lawyer can give the expert advice you need to ensure that your position is protected – whether it’s to preserve the house or press for a sale. n autumn 2017 Army&You 57

To read more from our panel of legal experts, visit

Who should pay for what in the immediate aftermath of a break up?


Crystal clear Nicci Shayler (pictured right) tells Army&You why her love of crystals fits perfectly with military life…


Y MUM had begun collecting various crystals for her home – they looked so pretty and I was interested to learn that they can help improve wellbeing. As someone who suffers with anxiety, and who is always in need of an extra punch of energy, I wanted to know more. Research taught me that crystals have been used for thousands of years. They work within our electromagnetic field, vibrating at different frequencies and bringing order and harmony, where needed,

due to their regular structure. I began making jewellery using various crystals including amethyst, a powerful stone that, among other things, can be good for headaches; lapis lazuli, which encourages self-expression; and turquoise, a great all-round healer and immune booster. As an Army wife of seven years, it’s become something I turn to for relief from whatever else is going on around me. It can help me overcome worry about telling my five-yearold that daddy won’t be home

before she goes to bed again, or it can provide strength when I’m tired from a long day of work. Now my home is filled with colourful, crystal beauties – the perfect way to dress any magnolia room! My friends and family are increasingly adorned with my creations. Last Christmas was a flurry of beads, glue and checking my crystal ‘bible’ to ensure I was putting together the perfect selection of stones. It’s a craft I can pack away into a neat and tidy box when I’m done – a bonus when Army kit continuously multiplies in

our SFA! Importantly, it also means I can pack up and take it wherever the Army sends us. If you’ve never thought about using and wearing crystals, give it a go. There are crystal shops all over and a range of online sellers ready to share their expertise to help you choose something right for you. &

What do you do to escape the stresses of Army life? To tell us about your hobby and feature in downtime, email

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58 Army&You autumn 2017

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Spotting bears In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, three Service youngsters have been finding out about A Beginner’s Guide to Bear Spotting by Michelle Robinson and David Roberts.


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“This book has two very scary bears, one is brown and one is black. I liked reading this book with my mummy and daddy. My favourite bit is the big ‘Pop!’”

“I loved receiving the book through the post! I enjoyed reading about the different kind of bears and what you should do if you see one. I also thought they were cute. Mum thought there were some interesting facts in there too.”

“We enjoyed the book so much," said Isla's mum. "It captured Isla so much she sat and listened to the story with her dad and me, then again with her siblings and finally she read the book to her teddy.”

HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS Reading Force is the national shared reading charity for Service families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or over Skype or

FaceTime 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

If your children would like to review books for Book Club, email hattie@ with their names and ages

autumn 2017 Army&You 59

A Beginner's Guide to Bear Spotting is published by Bloomsbury Children’s Books, priced £6.99, paperback wellington college

Ask the experts Got a question you want to pose to one of our team? Send it to us and we'll get it answered! Email

How can I prepare for a telephone interview? Maggie Gordon, of the Career Transition Partnership (, argues you should treat a chat over the phone like any other interview... BE READY The level of preparation is exactly the same as it is for a face-to-face interview. Find out as much as you can about the company and job role. Visit its website, read relevant press and be aware of industry updates and competitors. It’s also useful to investigate who will be interviewing you – LinkedIn is a good tool.

LOCATION This is key. Don’t pick a noisy cafe with screaming children or rattling china. Pick a quiet room at home and make sure you aren’t interrupted.

TOOLKIT Have a copy of your CV and the job description to hand as well as a pad with some questions.

SOUNDING GOOD 70 per cent of what we say is received in nonverbal form such as body language, so you have to rely on the other 30 per cent – your tone of voice and what you say. According to research, people can actually ‘hear’ you smile – you become

60 Army&You autumn 2017

more relaxed and your voice will sound more confident, upbeat and assertive. Standing up can keep your confidence and enthusiasm levels high.

How do I make my CV look good? Every military spouse has the potential to create a great CV – the key to success is to identify your unique skill set, convey your ‘personal brand’, and demonstrate your value to an employer. Heledd Kendrick, of Recruit for Spouses (, shares her advice...

ASK QUESTIONS This is your chance to stand out against all other candidates so show what you can give to them, sound interested in what they do, ask questions about the team, the environment and the job.

LISTEN Undoubtedly the most important thing to do. Listen intently – take on board all elements of their questions and make note of anything that seems of particular importance just in case they refer back to it later. Don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat something.

ENDING THE CALL Before you say goodbye, ensure you’ve expressed your interest in the role. Confirm what the remaining recruitment process is and how long it will be before you hear from them. Make a note to follow this up.


Begin with a professional profile that showcases the skills and experience that you bring to the table. Make it easy for the employer to see that you’re a viable candidate from the start.




Tailor your CV to every job you apply for. Think about your transferable skills and how they are relevant to the role. Including key words from the job description will really help with online recruitment processes that use search engines.


If military life has meant frequent geographical moves and a rather fragmented CV, incorporating a skills section will help to clarify your strengths to an employer.


Don’t cram in everything you have ever done. Think about what experiences and skills you have that are relevant to the job in hand, and focus on the last ten years.

If you wish to emphasise specific achievements, include a ‘highlights’ section to draw attention to the high points of your career – even if they happened years ago. Never undervalue voluntary work. If you’ve been involved with fundraising or running events, think about the skills you have demonstrated and how they could be relevant to your career development. This is also a highly-effective way to address gaps in your CV.


Include any training you have taken. This demonstrates your ability to take on new challenges whilst balancing a challenging family life.


Think about those unique attributes that military spouses and partners have to offer: flexibility, adaptability, resourcefulness – all of which are of great value to an employer. @ArmyandYou

How can I prepare my child for boarding school? Anderson Education's Sara Sparling ( offers her expertise in getting your youngster ready for the daunting prospect of learning away from the family home... Preparation

you to be the first to know that your child has been picked for the swimming team or done well in a maths test.

Involve your child in research and visits to schools, you can answer questions and discuss boarding life.

Points of contact

What to expect The joining information that you receive from the school is often a good starting point in talking about what happens in the first few days; arriving at the boarding house, meeting house parents and other boarders, unpacking and settling in to the dormitory.

All smiles for boarders at Christ College Brecon (

Making the most of it

Pupils are encouraged to bring some reminders of home – photographs, toys or possessions and of course their own clothes for evenings and weekends.

Boarding school is a way of life with many opportunities – music, art, sport, drama, extra-curricular activities and clubs. Together you can identify areas of interest

Cherishing Childhood, Inspiring Excellence

Home comforts

Knowing who to go to with a problem or concern will soon be second nature, but for the first few days it may be extremely helpful to note names and contact details for key people such as the house parent, academic tutor and student mentor.

or new experiences that your youngster may like to try.

Communication Skype or FaceTime can be reassuring and will enable you

Date for the diary It may be comforting for your new boarder to know when they are next going to be home to give them something to look forward to.

Open Morning 14th October 2017

MOWDEN HALL SCHOOL 01661 842147 or

Forces Discounts Available

Newton . Stocksfield . Northumberland . NE43 7TP

autumn 2017 Army&You 61


Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 15 October 2017 unless otherwise stated. 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.

£250 towards cabin break ENJOY a self-catering break in a Forest Holidays cabin, set in breathtaking British woodland. With nine stunning locations to choose from, each cabin comes with forest views and

the option of a private hot tub from which to stargaze late into the night. You’ll be able to take advantage of the country views with cycle trails and woodland walks, plus a

variety of outdoor activities. Your four-legged friends are also welcome in specific petfriendly accommodation. Enter for your chance to become our lucky winner of a £250 voucher towards a

luxury cabin break. Army&You readers also get a 10 per cent discount when booked by 31 October 2017. Enter promo code ARMY17 at

T&Cs: The prize is open to serving Regular and Reserve families only. Valid one year from receipt, subject to availability. The prize is non-transferable. Travel costs not included.

En-deer-ing prize ARMY&YOU has teamed up with Ohh Deer to offer three readers the chance to own some of the company’s quirky illustrations, design-led gifts and stationery. Ohh Deer produces items in the UK – from recycled materials where possible – and works with 35 illustrators around the world to create

62 Army&You autumn 2017

something special. Shop online for a unique, original gift, or treat yourself and enjoy products you won’t find anywhere else! Visit for more. One winner will receive a £50 voucher, and we also have two runner-up prizes of £25 each to spend on anything on the site.












Win a unique, commissioned graphite portrait of your fourlegged best friend and have something you can treasure for a lifetime. Each picture is lovingly handcrafted from your favourite photo and captured in amazing life-like pencil A4 drawings by Lorna Stannard Art. To view previous commissions and drawings, visit Lorna’s Facebook page (above). Find out more about Lorna’s business in our feature on pages 18-19.

British Babies is a Britishmade baby and toddler clothing range that only uses super-soft, organic cotton and features cute custom animals. The clothing is unisex, so great for gifts, with every design made with babies in mind. The company was founded by Army spouse Willow Hearne (see Business solutions, pages 24-25). Army&You readers get an exclusive 20 per cent discount until 20 October 2017. Enter code AY17 during checkout at

Why settle for an ordinary photo when you can have an extraordinary piece of art to cherish? Each Cotton n Paper bespoke paper cut is hand-made and can be treasured for years to come. The company was created by Army spouse Danielle Gallagher, who has continued to grow her business from her small Army quarter (see page 25 for more). Our lucky winners can either have a photo converted or a military cut featuring your unit’s insignia or cap badge.

Handmade by Emma Nightingale creates bespoke garments made from 100 per cent cotton, with vintage prints and trims, finished to a professional standard for your little ones. The products range from relaxed-fit rompers to dresses and playsuits in designer fabrics. The company was created by Army spouse Emma when she needed to make a PE bag for her daughter, and it grew from there. See more about Emma’s business on page 24.

Kids will love getting creative with Make Your Own Farm Animals by Army wife Tracey Radford. Building with home recyclables, you’ll never look at a cardboard tube or empty egg carton in the same way again. The book is divided into four chapters – In the Field, Farmyard Fun, Home Sweet Home and Machinery and Scenery – and covers all aspects of life on a farm. You can even make adorable animals and learn how to create their animal shelters with a step-by-step guide.

l The winner can have their dog

l Army&You is giving away

l We have two personalised

l Our winner will receive

l We have three books to

or horse drawn or gift the prize to a friend. Frame not included.

one pair of organic fox pyjamas, retailing at £29.95.

portraits, usually £85 each, to give away.

a £25 voucher towards a bespoke outfit.

give away – enter for your chance to win!

autumn 2017 Army&You 63


Something to share about Army life? Tell us about it by emailing – you don’t need to worry that it will affect your soldier’s career. Please include your name and address. They will not be revealed to anyone outside AFF without your permission.

Star letter THE writer of this letter wins a copy of Millie Marotta’s Beautiful Birds and Treetop Treasures, the new colouring book by celebrated illustrator Millie Marotta, and a ruled, hardbacked Millie Marotta Journal interspersed with illustrations for colouring and doodling. Based on her bestselling colouring books, Millie Marotta’s intricate wildlife illustrations decorate journals, postcards and other stationery products that will appeal both to fans of colouring in and of Millie’s signature illustration style. Find out more at MillieMarotta

Solution needed for voters overseas DURING June’s snap general election, many postal votes didn’t arrive at BFPO locations with enough time to be sent back and be counted. For many soldiers and families, proxy voting isn’t an option and many worry that their proxy may not choose to vote as they were asked, putting their own preference instead. Voting is a very personal thing and not everyone is comfortable sharing their voting preference with someone, particularly if they may be of a different political persuasion. In addition, some soldiers on operations may not have access to the internet to be able to change their voting preference from postal to proxy. Personnel and families are left unable to vote from overseas. This isn’t a new problem. Why hasn’t someone looked into this and been able to offer a solution? Why can’t polling stations be set up overseas to make sure everyone’s vote can count? With technology nowadays, there must be a better way. Votes shouldn’t be taken away because someone has chosen to serve their country. Name and address supplied Response from Electoral Commission: We’re sorry to hear about the issues faced

64 Army&You autumn 2017

X marks the spot: Could overseas polling stations benefit posted Service families?

by families overseas. It is important that everyone’s vote counts and the Electoral Commission advises Returning Officers (ROs) to prioritise issuing postal ballot packs for Service voters overseas to allow the maximum amount of time for them to be completed and returned. However, by law, ROs cannot send out postal votes until after the close of nominations, which is 19 working days before polling day for a General Election. Only at this point are details of candidates standing for election confirmed, meaning ballot papers can be finalised and printed. We understand proxy voting isn’t everyone’s preferred method of voting, but sometimes unforeseen circumstances mean postal ballot packs arrive late. We therefore encourage Service voters and their

families to consider voting by proxy as it removes any concern that ballot papers won’t arrive in time to be counted. We will continue to work with the government to identify steps to improve access to voting for overseas and Service electors. AFF view from Chief Executive Sara Baade: From our post-election survey, postal voting was by far the most desirable way of voting for families overseas (see page 12). AFF has shared the outcome of this survey with the MOD and also raised the issue previously with the covenant reference group. Whilst we understand that the snap election was an unexpected situation, we will go back to the table with all this evidence to ask for more consideration to be given for those families who are serving overseas.


PROTECT YOUR FAMILY’S FUTURE FOR FREE Introducing The Royal British Legion’s FREE Will Writing service Keeping an up-to-date Will is the only way to take care of your family if you’re no longer there. It is The Royal British Legion’s pleasure to help members of the Service community do this by offering you a FREE Will Writing service. You do not have to include the Legion in your Will to use this service but if you do decide to leave a legacy to the Legion you’ll be playing a crucial role in protecting those in need within the Armed Forces community. Even a small portion of your Estate could help us provide everything from home adaptations for an injured veteran like Mark Stonelake to specialist dementia care in one of our award-winning Legion Care Homes. Once you have provided for your loved ones, please consider helping us to be there for members of the Armed Forces family who need us.

Find out more or request a copy of our Will Guide at Contact the Legion’s legacy manager at or call 020 3207 2253

“It’s a huge comfort to know the Legion’s support will never stop.” Mark Stonelake, who lost his left leg following an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in Afghanistan.

Choose from up to six independent family solicitors based in your area.


Would you like to write an opinion piece for Army&You? Get in touch at

IN MY experience, soldiers are still being encouraged to drink and it’s deemed antisocial not to attend functions or want to go on nights out during exercise. This causes a real strain on the relationships at home and nothing appears to be being done to stop the penalisation of soldiers who choose to stay in. Living on a patch I’ve seen more relationship breakdowns caused by alcohol and the effects of too much drink than anything else. What is the Army’s view on this? Name and address supplied Response from Lt Col Bob Taylor, SO1 Health and Wellbeing Policy: Unit cohesion is an important part of Army life and sensible, moderate consumption of alcohol for those who choose to drink can play a part in this. However, no-one should be encouraged to drink who does not want to. Robust policy is in place to curb excessive alcohol consumption within the Army. A project to have unit alcohol advisers and alcohol brief intervention practitioners is at the pilot stage with a view of being rolled out pan-Army in early 2018. This will enhance alcohol education measures and enable units to better manage any alcohol misuse. The project’s launch will be accompanied by a new policy, which will cover all aspects of alcohol use and misuse. A six-month study into alcohol use in the Army is due to conclude soon and these measures together will play a leading role in starting to change the Service’s attitude to alcohol. 66 Army&You autumn 2017

Opinion: Dependant? Nothing could be further from the truth BEFORE joining the bubble of military life, I would have naively described the military spouse or partner in such demeaning terms as ‘subservient and reliant’, genuinely believing they sacrificed their and their family’s happiness to allow their soldier to charge around the globe in full military garb, camo cream and all. In my defence, look up ‘dependant’ in the dictionary and synonyms such as ‘hangeron’ and even ‘parasite’ abound. Boy, was I wrong – and, in this case, so is the dictionary. It’s true that the role of a military partner does involve sacrifice and putting your own happiness aside at times, but what’s the alternative? It infuriates me when civilian friends and family simply say ‘well, you knew what you were getting into’. Yes, I knew the love of my life and father to my children would spend periods of time away, but does that make it any easier? No. Is it a comfort when you’re doing the school run in your

pyjamas, tearing your hair out because the baby won’t sleep and you’ve still got to make a papier-mâché volcano by tomorrow? No. I’ve found the military partner has to be stronger than almost any other person. They are the glue that holds the family together under difficult or oppressive circumstances. They are the lynchpin. In a world where your soldier can be deployed for months at a time, sometimes with just five days’ notice, it is the ‘reliant, hanger-on’ that has to step up to the mark, be both mum and dad, cook, cleaner, teacher, taxi driver, sports coach and technology police, all whilst keeping a smile on their face, trying desperately not to rant an Exorcist-style monologue at the soldier. Because yes, of

course resentment is felt, yet we still do it. Does it annoy the hell out of me having to put my soldier’s name as head of household on every form (and there are a lot of them)? Yes, it does. Does it annoy me that I’m labelled as a dependant? Yes, it does. But every military partner or person knows that the term couldn’t be further from the truth. At times, being a military partner means being more independent and capable than you ever thought you could be. For me, the experience is exhilarating and exciting yet frustrating and demanding. I wouldn’t, however, change it for the world and whatever the roller-coaster ride that Army life throws at us, I’m determined to enjoy the journey. Gemma Keylock

“At times, being a military partner means being more independent and capable than you ever thought you could be.” @ArmyandYou

Jon Gower, FPS Member

Jon had a nagging feeling that he had not received his pension supplement based on his period as a commissioned officer. We reviewed his circumstances and concluded he was right. As a result, he received a supplementary tax free lump sum payment, back payment of pension and interest too. His pension has also been increased to the correct rate. He tells us he’s busy advising others to join the Forces Pension Society.

INDEPENDENT, NOT-FOR-PROFIT PENSION HELP WHEN YOU NEED IT We deal with hundreds of such enquiries every month from our Members, helping them through the AFPS pension maze. Join us and see how we can help you. Or simply become a Member for the peace of mind of knowing we’re here to help you when you need us.

VALUABLE MEMBERSHIP OFFERS Our Members also have access to a range of exclusive offers with significant discounts from trusted Affiliates including our exclusive no-age-limit Annual Travel Insurance Plan.

At the Forces Pension Society, we value our independence. It enables us to serve the interests of our c. 50,000 Members as the Armed Forces Pension watchdog. We hold governments to account, arguing for better pensions and campaigning against unfairness in the schemes. For example, our 2015 campaign won the right for all widows to retain their pension on remarriage.

JOIN ONLINE NOW AND RECEIVE A FREE £150 RAMBLING & ADVENTURE HOLIDAY VOUCHER Visit our website at quoting Promo Code AAY2017 (T’s & C’s apply). Annual membership for you and your partner costs just £37.

JOIN US AND GET MORE FROM YOUR PENSION Forces Pension Society 68 South Lambeth Road, Vauxhall, London, SW8 1RL Tel: 020 7820 9988 - email: -

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Army&You Autumn 2017  

The Autumn 2017 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

Army&You Autumn 2017  

The Autumn 2017 issue of Army&You, the official magazine of the Army Families Federation.

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