Army&You - Summer 2024

Page 1


Families share their stories of turning an overseas posting into an adventure of a lifetime


Why ‘Magnolia’ will no longer be a mainstay of military homes


A chance to explore Britain’s wonderful waterways on board a narrowboat

Relocation, relocation, relocation Service support for those families on the march

Portrait photographer puts Forces in the frame

With a gi in your Will, you can ght for theirs.

For over 200 years, the Gurkhas have stood alongside us –having taken a vow to defend Britain.

Whether in the desert or the jungle, the trenches or the beaches, they have fought to defend our shared values of freedom and justice. The Gurkha Welfare Trust supports veterans and their communities across Nepal, home of the Gurkhas, through vital nancial, medical, and community aid.

If you would like to download your free guide to leaving a gi in your Will, then please scan the QR code with your mobile phone camera, or visit

Alternatively you can email us at or speak to one of the team on 01722 323 955 You can also reply by lling in this slip, cu ing it out, and sending it to us at Freepost RRUS-RGZG-YUCB, The Gurkha Welfare Trust, PO Box 2170, 22 Queen Street, Sa lisbury, SP2 2EX.

Yes, I would like to receive your guide to leaving a gi in my Will.

Name: Address:

Editor // 01264 554004


Money & Allowances✪

Foreign & Commonwealth

Education & Childcare

Health & Additional needs

Employment & Training✪


Devolved Nations



Starting over

As part of the army family, you’re unlikely to stay in the same place for long. This can bring a fresh start and the chance to get to know new people, but also challenges with children’s school and nursery places, healthcare and partner employment.

In our feature on pages 12 to 14 we take a look at the moving process, ways to ensure stability for your children and some of the allowances that are available to help when you’re relocating to a new location.

Any move will likely mean the need to find a new school for your children. In our Education & Childcare section on pages 48 & 49, we cover when to begin applying, what to consider if your child is in a critical year group and how to appeal.

On pages 36 & 37, we share some pointers to helpful support with your healthcare when moving around.

Turn to page 26 to read the epic tale of two families who decided to make travelling to their next overseas posting an adventure of a lifetime and find out how another family spent their shared parental leave on pages 42.

Get social! Want to keep abreast of the latest news and views about army life? Make sure you follow us online for exclusive content! Find us @armyandyou on X and Instagram, search for ArmyandYou on Facebook or visit


Our Employment & Training pages 18, 19 and 20 have some tips on how to cope with rejection after a job interview and take a look at a personal and professional development programme for families overseas.

If you’ve got a story to tell about army life, then let us know – email


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There are some inspiring stories and books to be won in our Dandelions section for military children on pages 62 & 63. If you’d like to tell us about a project involving service children and young people or your youngster would like to feature in a future edition, just get in touch by emailing or visiting, where you’ll find our privacy policy and T&Cs


Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content © AFF. Not to be reproduced without permission. Design by Wroxy Meredith


Army Families Federation is a charitable incorporated organisation registered in England and Wales with registered charity number 1176393 and a charity registered in Scotland with registered charity number

Finally, you could win some great prizes, including a canal boat break and military artwork in our giveaways, on pages 64 & 65.

SC048282. Principal office: IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ


To enter, visit One entry per household per giveaway. Full T&Cs on the website. Closing date is 16 August 2024 unless otherwise stated.


Interested in advertising in Army&You? Contact TylerBale Communications. Email: Tel: 01252 714870 / Web: Cover image: Nic Beveridge

Ellen Owusu and family on the move on pages 12 to 14

12 On the move again

Jill Misson looks into the impact of frequent moves and what support is in place


18 Dealing with disappointment

Sarah Peñaluna shares some tips on coping with rejection

20 Promoting confidence overseas

How a novel programme is enhancing family wellbeing


22 Overseas housing pilot We hear about a new pilot scheme in the Falkland Islands and Cyprus

24 Blank canvas COVER STORY Why magnolia paint will no longer be a mainstay of military homes


COVER STORY 26 Going your own way

We hear from families that have had some unforgettable travel experiences 28 Reaching military communities worldwide A look at the British Forces Broadcasting Service 31 A postcard from… A snapshot of life in Oklahoma


32 Marriage made in heaven

We talk to a military spouse and veteran who swapped service for ceremonies



34 A step in the right direction

Katherine Houlston discusses some positive changes to immigration rules


36 Healthcare help

Karen Ross looks at some of the support available when moving during service

38 Research round-up

An update on the current research work AFF has been involved in


40 Reward for service

A look at the role of the army allowance team

41 Help with housing New waivers and refunds may help ease financial pressures


42 Parenting paradise

An idyllic snapshot of shared parental leave



44 A chronicle of the modern British Army

Portrait photographer Rory Lewis provides an update

46 Managing your army career FAQs on how to successfully navigate your time in uniform


48 Planning ahead

When’s the right time to tackle school applications

Co me and find out mo re about what we can offer your child at our brand new, purpose buil t school.

This is an oppor tunity to have a tour of our won derful facilities and meet the Le a dership team. Other year groups are also welcome to attend.

We also have spaces in our Nurser y, The Nest and you can visit our setting at any time to m eet the team and discuss what hours we have available.

To make an appointment for a tour, contact the school directly by phone 01264 316400 or email

We know you train hard and the dedication you put into your work whilst working home or abroad is admirational. That’s why we think our worldwide Kit Insurance may give you peace of mind for theft, loss or damage to your Military Kit and Personal Possessions.

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Kit & Personal Possessions insurance is arranged by Motorplus Limited t /a Coplus and underwritten by Collinson Insurance Limited (a trading name o f Astrenska Insurance Limited).

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MANY military families face a very mobile life, and feel that they are constantly on the move. In fact 22 per cent moved for service reasons in the last year* – with the army being the most mobile of the three services.

This unique aspect of service life can place additional stresses on families compared to civilian life. For example, difficulties with securing a school or nursery place for your children, problems transferring your healthcare to a new location (less than half of families who moved whilst undergoing treatment were able to continue their treatment without difficulty last year*), and the well documented challenges of finding employment in each new location. Yes, the civilian community moves too – but few experience the level of constant change that army families can face, throughout or at points in their service experience.

Families also face the emotional effects of mobile service life, which can include the strain put on relationships, distance from support networks of family and friends, and effects on children’s wellbeing from the disruption of moving schools time and again.

Being an army family overseas can also present its own unique set of challenges, making partner employment even more difficult – 47 per cent of overseas spouses were employed last year in comparison with 85 per cent in England.*

A large proportion of the staff at AFF have lived, or are still living, military life, so are well placed to help and guide you during your army journey as well as offering professional expertise.

A large proportion of the staff at AFF have lived, or are still living, military life, so are well placed to help and guide you during your army journey.

We have experienced the unpredictability of army life and have a wealth of experience and information to help you to make the right decisions for your family as the next posting comes around.

We have recently welcomed a new Head of Policy, Rachel Smith. Rachel joins AFF from a public sector grant-making organisation that provides

charitable funding to the armed forces community, where she specialised in policy, impact, evaluation and research.

She has been a member of the armed forces community for most of her life, wearing a number of different ‘hats’ as daughter, partner, wife, war widow and now wife of a veteran, and will be bringing her experience and understanding to the role in support of army families.

To get in touch with the team, email A

*Source: FAMCAS 2023

Rachel Smith, Head of Policy

TOP 3 issues from families based overseas – January to March 2024




Army Families Federation statistics

TOP 3 themes of enquiry: MODERNISED





Army life on the move


The data detail on departures, arrivals and new adventures

“I am currently considering an overseas posting and wanted to know what allowances I could be entitled to?”

“Having lived in our own home, we are now looking at returning to SFA, what would our current entitlement be?”

“We are moving to England for the first time. What is the process for applying for schools? When do we need to apply?”

“I’m currently on an NHS waiting list awaiting an operation. We may be due to move again this year and I’m concerned I will lose my place on the waiting list. Who can I speak to for advice?”

“We are currently in Germany. Can my wife apply for her UK visa whilst we are out here?”

“My husband has a posting in Cyprus. What documentation would I need to work whilst I’m over there?”


Some of the key issues you asked for advice on between January and March 2024 were: of enquiries about allocation and entitlement were from regular service personnel.


54% of visa-related enquiries were about the Minimum Income Requirement

64% of move-in and moveout enquiries came from spouses/partners, with move-in standards and march-out charges making up most of these enquiries.




AFF’s Overseas Manager, Esther, was recently invited to Brunei by the Commanding Officer of 1 Royal Gurkha Rifles, Lt Col Stanford-Tuck.

British Forces Brunei is the second largest overseas command location. It’s a unique community with a high percentage of Gurkha families with their own terms and conditions of service.

Lt Col Tuck was keen that serving personnel and families understand what AFF can do for them and he recognised that AFF’s independently gathered evidence would be useful to help challenge some of the current issues his community was experiencing. These included delays with immigration-related issues such as naturalisation.

midwives – they were able to outline the current support for expectant mums and those with young children. They gave Esther an update on the cultural difference and how they try to support the diverse community.  They also discussed the process for claiming child benefit from overseas.


A team of AFF staff presented to a group of advisors from the Armed Service Advice Project (ASAP).

ASAP is a Citizens Advice Scotland project offering guidance to serving, exservice, regular, reserve or family members.

Devolved Manager Emma provided an overview of AFF’s work, and Money & Allowances Specialist Claire highlighted current issues in this area for service personnel and their families.

Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist Katherine then gave an update on immigration rules for non-UK personnel and their families, and her team’s work with domestic violence cases.

For more about ASAP, log on to



Another issue is the lack of spousal employment and clear guidance for those who wish to work remotely for a UK company. 1 RGR are currently in discussion with the Defence Attaché to try and find a solution to working there for those with professional qualifications.

Lt Col Tuck was pleased to hear that AFF now supports single serving personnel as, due to the Gurkha married accompanied status rules, new recruits remain unaccompanied for the first three years of service.

Esther was able to chat to:

● The senior medical and dental officer on topics such as supportability, mental health, prescription charges and emerging additional needs for some young children.

● The new headteacher of Hornbill School.

● The health visitor and one of the

● The Army Education Centre –discussion ranged from functional skills for service personnel to iGCSE for spouses; continuing professional development and training opportunities, resettlement; as well as the classes they offer to those for whom English is a second language to gain the qualifications to support their immigration applications.

Esther says: “Having been assigned to Brunei in 2006-07 as a family and then visiting with AFF again in 2015, I can see that the country has progressed – roads and infrastructure are much improved. There is now a thriving café culture, cinema and bowling local to the garrison. However, public transport is still very absent so being able to drive is beneficial for families.”

She also delivered several briefs to service personnel and families, including one-to-one Q&A sessions and virtual linkups with the AFF Specialists. They were able to advise on and resolve several queries immediately.

AFF Money & Allowances Specialist Claire Hallam has attended the Forces Financial Steering Group (FFSG).

The group, led by the Armed Forces Covenant team, includes organisations from across the financial and commercial sectors, such as credit reference agencies, the Financial Conduct Authority and representatives from the insurance industry, who meet to identify and remove commercial disadvantage faced by the armed forces.

Claire says: “Many army families tell us that moving frequently can cause commercial disadvantage. The FFSG gives the opportunity to feed back the concerns raised to us by families, particularly the barriers faced by those on overseas assignments trying to access mortgages or financial advice. We fed back our evidence and highlighted where better guidance is needed.”

Contact moneysupport@aff. with your views.



AFF is saying farewell to chair of trustees Heather Key. Heather led the charity out of the pandemic and towards a new way of working with a greater emphasis on mobile roadshows across the UK and overseas.

As a trustee for six years and chair of trustees for three, Heather has provided essential leadership and wisdom to the charity, most recently guiding the organisation through a strategy review to ensure it remains firmly focused on championing the voice of army families

Heather said: “I have nothing but admiration for the team at AFF. The charity is in a unique and strong position for the future.”

AFF will welcome a new chair of trustees shortly.


Emily Hunt from our Foreign & Commonwealth team has recently passed her Level 1 Office of the Immigration Services Commissioner (OISC) exam. This means that for the first time the team of five are all now fully qualified immigration advisors.

You can get in touch with the team at fcsupport@aff. or find useful information at


The AFF team was on the road this spring and held an Ask AFF roadshow in Aldershot. Specialists met serving personnel, families and welfare teams to talk about issues in the garrison. Nicole Bridgman, SO2 Garrison Community Support Officer, said: “It was great to host AFF and get a refresher on the work they do to support our community.”

AFF’s devolved nations team, Emma and Amanda, have also been on the road visiting two locations in Wales. Their first stop was St Athan, followed by Brecon, where they chatted to serving personnel, families and also those who offer local support to the military community.

In Brecon they were joined by two of AFF’s Foreign and Commonwealth qualified immigration advisors, Katherine and Emily. The team spoke about issues relating to childcare provision, housing allocation, missing medical records, transferring care and immigration.

For more information on AFF events, visit


AFF has received funding to extend the reach and sustainability of the online training and employment platform Forces Families Jobs (FFJ).

The grant, from the Supporting Partners Programme, will enable AFF to implement some of the recommendations from last year’s Positive Futures project, which reviewed the range of employment support available to military partners, and explored the next stage for FFJ.

AFF Employment & Training Specialist Lucy Ritchie said: “This award will ensure that FFJ provides the best possible support to forces families at all stages of their career development.

“This project will further develop the online platform, bringing together employers committed to the Armed Forces Covenant and military partners on their journey to find employment and training opportunities that fit with forces life.”

The Supporting Partners Programme is part of the MOD Armed Forces Families Fund and is administered by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust.


One of FFJ’s training providers, In Professional Development, has offered a one-to-one coaching opportunity to three military spouses. They were so keen to support the military community, they are following this up with a group coaching workshop for a further six spouses to help them on their employment journey.

For details of other career support opportunities, visit


Umesh applied for a visa for his wife but she was given a six-month fiancée visa instead of a five-year partner visa. The AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist spoke to a contact at UK Visas and Immigration, who explained that the couple had sent in the Brigade of Gurkhas registration certificate instead of their official marriage certificate.  After supplying the official marriage certificate, UKVI agreed to issue the full length visa.  Umesh also acted as the driver for AFF Overseas Manager on her recent visit to Brunei. He said: “I wanted to thank you, on behalf of both myself and my wife. It has been an honour for me to serve as your driver for the week and I have come to understand the significant contribution AFF makes to our welfare. Your support and assistance have been genuinely valuable.”


On the move again

Army families are currently facing high levels of mobility – Jill Misson looks into the impact of frequent moves and what support is in place.

MOVING house is an upheaval whether you’re new to military life or an old hand. The triservice FAMCAS Survey 2023 revealed that 72 per cent of army families had moved in the last five years.

Lisa Rogerson from Help for Movers relocated more than 20 times with her serving husband and has written a guide to share tips and checklists. She says: “The better you prepare, the smoother the move and it’s never too early to declutter.”

“The better you prepare, the smoother the move and it’s never too early to declutter.”

Her three children learned to see moving house as an exciting adventure: “The younger they were, the easier they found it to adjust. The older they got the more important it was to include them in researching new areas and setting up their bedrooms.”

Louise Fetigan, founder of charity Little Troopers, says: “These are big moments in small people’s lives and it doesn’t matter how many times you do it, the process doesn’t get any easier.

“We offer families and schools lots of resources and information to support children.

“Show them that you acknowledge how difficult they might be finding a move and give them the opportunity to share their feelings and thoughts, as well as helping them to find the positives, such as being closer to extended family, having a park nearby or a bigger bedroom.”

Home moving process

If you’re moving to Service Family Accommodation (SFA) in the UK, the application and allocation process is handled by Pinnacle. You can find a helpful guide at

AFF Housing Specialist Cat Calder says: “Availability of SFA varies greatly from one area to another. In some areas it is practically one in, one out. If no SFA is available at your entitlement then you may, depending on family size, be offered one down or one up from your entitlement.

“If no SFA is available at all then a Non Availability Certificate (NAC) will be issued which will start the process to source Substitute Service Family Accommodation (SSFA).

“However, in some areas private rentals are very hard to come by. Whilst not ideal, it is better to remain in the current SFA until SSFA is sourced rather than try to move to a temporary option at the new assignment.”

Above: Geri Dougall and family.
Inset: Little Troopers resources for children
Lisa Rogerson

In specific circumstances, such as allowing a child to finish exams, a family can retain SFA for up to 12 months. Retention is an extension of current entitlement so must be requested and authorised before the last day at the current duty station, not retrospectively.

Boarding choice

“We decided to send our children to boarding school because of the postings as it was affecting their academic progress,” says spouse Ellen Owusu.

“It is one of the best decisions we have made for them as it has given them the stability they needed for a continued education.”

Continuity of Education Allowance can be claimed towards fees from the academic year of a child’s eighth birthday to support family mobility with accompanied service.

To find out about nurseries and schools in a new area, AFF Education and Childcare Specialist Anna Hutchinson says: “Most local authorities have a Family Information Service which should have an up-to-date list of childcare providers.

“We decided to send our children to boarding school because of the postings as it was affecting their academic progress... It is one of the best decisions we have made for them.”

“Social media is a good way to find out more from families in situ. For schools, look at the local authority webpages for guidance on how to apply and the timelines. Let them know that you are a military family as they can allocate places prior to you arriving when the application is accompanied with an assignment order.”

SEND considerations

Parents of children with Special Educational Needs

and Disability (SEND) should check the local authority’s ‘local offer’ page. AFF Health and Additional Needs Specialist

Karen Ross says: “Read the setting’s SEND policy and arrange a visit to see if it is right for your child. It’s also advisable to finish the process of an education, health and care needs assessment before moving if possible.”

Education, Health and Care Plans can be transferred

between local authorities in England and families can get support from the Defence Children Services Education Advisory Team, their local Special Educational Needs and Disability Information, Advice and Support Service (SENDIASS) or from AFF. When moving with a child who has mental health issues and who is undergoing therapy or on a waiting list with Child and Adolescent Mental Health

Services (CAMHS), support is available in some areas in England under the Op COMMUNITY pilot.

It helps families to navigate the NHS system and ensures that any NHS waiting list time accrued is taken into account so they retain the relative waiting list time in the new location. AFF has access to contacts who can support in the devolved administrations and overseas.

Ellen Owusu and family

Dental issues

Another hurdle when moving house can be registering at a new dentist. Karen says: “We get significant numbers of enquiries about lack of NHS dental provision, particularly in England. Where possible we encourage families to remain with their NHS dentist even when moving.

“We have raised this issue with both the NHS and Armed Forces Covenant team, but it is a national issue and there is acknowledgement from the Government that provision needs improving and capacity increased, but this takes time.”

Unique challenges

The army recognises the unique challenges faced by families when moving. Colonel Claire James, Assistant Head Army Remuneration, says: “Mobility of service personnel is key so that we are able to maximise readiness. To support our people and their families, allowances and provisions are available when moving to a new location.”

The hassle of moving is greatly reduced as a removal company will transport your belongings to a new assignment location at MOD expense. During the move, families are likely to be eligible for an allowance towards food, drink and overnight accommodation.

Disturbance Expense (DE) contributes towards additional expenditure, for example cleaning, post redirection, installing domestic appliances and provision of furnishings. The extra Child Element of DE contributes to costs including new school uniform. Relocation leave of five to ten days also helps service personnel to prepare, move and settle in a new location.

When moving overseas, you can apply for up to four months’ net pay in advance. Colonel James says: “Removals

“Mobility of service personnel is key so that we are able to maximise readiness. To support our people and their families, allowances and provisions are available when moving to a new location.”

and duty travel arrangements, including passports and visas, will all be taken care of, at cost, so that families can arrive in the overseas location in good order.

“To reduce the separation from your close family and friends, Get You Home (Overseas) assists towards the costs of one return journey to the UK, or country of origin for non-British passport holders and dual nationals in some cases, for each 12-month period assigned overseas.

“If you’re accompanied and conditions allow, GYH(O) will also contribute towards the costs of the return journey for your spouse or civil partner and any eligible children.”

The tax-free Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) is designed to contribute towards the difference in the cost of living in an assignment location and the cost of living in the UK. LOA is not linked to any potential loss of partner employment as a result of an overseas assignment, but does include boosted contributions for those accompanied and those with children.

Issues fed back

AFF regularly meets with the army remuneration team to feed back the issues and concerns that families raise to help improve policy. Money & Allowances Specialist Claire Hallam suggests that families in receipt of Government benefits check what they can receive while overseas. While Universal Credit and child benefit are still accessible and the MOD does replicate some support, other benefits may not be available. Armed Forces Covenant

commitments are in place to be aware of. Claire says: “The Motor Finance Protocol allows for a car to be taken on finance overseas, while broadband and phone providers may waive cancellation fees or allow you to suspend contracts, if moving due to assignment. However, these do not apply to all companies, so it is important to check with your provider or you could be out of pocket.”

Employment concerns

Moving frequently can be challenging for spousal employment. Army spouse Geri Dougall says: “My career progression and lack of stable income has been a bitter pill to swallow at times. I was taking any job in the first year of a posting just so I could have some money coming in and then by the second year I would find a better suited job and, just as I was settling into work, it was time to move again.”

Geri bought a franchise running baby and toddler classes. She says: “The intention was to be able to set up at any new posting but, after seeing how much time and energy it takes to establish a small business, I realised our constant moving around just wouldn’t work in reality. We’re putting down roots and buying a home here where my little girl is settled in school.”

For Ellen, the transient lifestyle continues. She says: “My mantra has always been that I choose to bloom wherever I find myself. I make the conscious effort to see the good in every posting and look forward to getting to know the new locations and the new connections I am going to make. My advice is have a positive mindset, and grab opportunities that come your way. Ask for help if you are struggling as you’re not alone.” A

You could win a copy of the Help for Movers Step by Step Guide to Moving House by Lisa Rogerson, published by Help for Movers. Scan the QR code to enter.



BESA (British Embassy Support Association) is a voluntary body affiliated to the British Embassy, Washington, which offers social support and opportunities to share information whilst posted across the pond.

It has a network of area and service reps to ensure it reaches as many people as it can. The area reps welcome new members and arrange daytime and evening socials as well as offering various interest groups to meet like-

Send your pic to A&Y – editor@aff. or PM on social media @armyandyou

minded people.

Although the area reps are limited to the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia this covers more than 80 per cent of UK personnel and if you are posted further afield, it runs a Facebook group so that you can connect virtually. BESA also runs charity events such as coffee mornings and quiz nights to support nominated US and UK charities.

To find out more, email besa.


Military spouse and artist Georgina Groocock is holding an exhibition –Dandelions and other Flowers – at the station café and gallery in Richmond, North Yorkshire. The showcase, from 4-17 July, is a diary of her experience in the military with her children and tries to capture those precious fleeting moments which tell the strongest story.


The Lifelong Learning Entitlement (LLE) is due to launch in September 2025, creating a single funding system to help people pay for college or university courses, and train or upskill flexibly throughout their working lives.

The LLE will be available to new and returning learners who will be able to access a tuition fee loan and maintenance loan if they are eligible.

The LLE will fund a range of courses including traditional degrees, PGCEs and higher technical qualifications.

To find out more, search ‘lifelong learning’ at

The NATO Enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup (Estonia) hosted a boxing exhibition, featuring amateur boxers from the UK, France and the United States armed forces stationed in Estonia. The exhibition also featured performances by the First Fusiliers Fijian Choir, First Fusiliers Corps of Drums and the Queen’s Royal Hussars Piper.

This portrait of General Dame Sharon Nesmith DCB ADC Gen, who has been appointed the first female Vice Chief of the Defence Staff, was taken by Rory Lewis as part of his Soldiery project. For more, see pages 44 & 45.

While producing this edition of Army&You, we came across these fab photos from our military community…
The third Celebrating Forces Families awards recognised the incredible strength, dedication and achievements of the UK’s armed forces families. Among this year’s winners were Claire Lilly, Jamie Small and Stephanie Quintrell.

Hereford Coworking Hub


The Military Coworking Network (MCN) has opened another coworking hub at Credenhill, Hereford. The hub can be found on St David’s Road opposite the community centre.

Hub membership costs just £30 a year and gives you access to a fully equipped office space where you can plug in and start working straight away.

Ideal for freelancers, home or remote workers, as well as private study, coworking spaces are for use by military spouses and partners of serving personnel, but also by reservists who may be temporarily attached to a regiment and need somewhere to work.

To become a member of this hub or to


BFBS has recently launched Social Media Specialists, a range of free social media marketing courses for partners of serving UK military personnel, veterans and their partners and bereaved forces families.

The courses can be completed online from anywhere in the world and at your own pace. They are a great way to upskill and keep your CV up to date.

One past student said: “This is a great opportunity for spouses as from experience it is really tough to maintain a course or nurture career progression.”

For more information, go to


The Army Air Corps has launched a mobile and web app known as Eagle Connect, to keep serving members, veterans and family members of the Army Air Corps community connected, reducing isolation and improving wellbeing.

The app features a search and connect function, allows for notifications, messages and chat, as well as bringing groups together, and featuring information about forthcoming events.

It is on the Military App platform, alongside other regiment and military unit community apps such as the Royal Welsh and the Royal Tank Regiment, Eagle Connect is downloadable to iOS or Android.

For further information about Eagle Connect, go to


The Civil Service is keen to support military spouses and partners in achieving a fulfilling career, and it has now extended its Going Forward into Employment scheme to include serving military and veteran spouses and partners.

Vacancies are advertised on, but if there are no ‘live’ roles that appeal, you can also join the candidate bank by submitting an expression of interest form along with your CV, and someone will get in touch if something becomes available – simply email for details.


If you are thinking of applying to university, or simply wanting to look at your options, UCAS has a page for armed forces families at

The page talks you through the support available to you and information on completing your application.

UCAS encourages students to sign up to the UCAS Hub which has tools to help with qualification choices and building your personal statement.

It also personalises some of the content and features to match your needs and interests. You can sign up at any time, not just if you are about to apply to university.

To find out more about university applications, student funding and scholarships, take a look at our University page at

...cope with rejection after a job interview

In the fourth of our ‘How to’ series, we asked Sarah Peñaluna, Families Employment Advisor at the Forces Employment Charity, for some tips on coping with rejection…

Navigating life as a military spouse or partner presents unique challenges. Encountering rejection after a job interview can compound some of those difficulties. Rather than viewing rejection as a personal failure, remember it is a normal aspect of any job search journey. Here are some ideas on how to navigate rejection in a positive way:


It’s essential to seek credible feedback following an unsuccessful interview. This will provide you with valuable insights about areas of improvement. Learning about these aspects of further development can help you make adjustments. This will improve the outcome of future interviews.


It’s easy to dwell on disappointment. Instead, channel your energy into positive action. There are endless ways to enhance your skill set and marketability. For instance, you can attend workshops, enrol on professional courses, or seek mentorship.

Explore the Online Mentoring Hub within the Forces Employment Charity online community. Our mentors bring their own experience from a range of leading industries to support you. The charity also holds many free events and workshops that can enhance your networking opportunities.

The Forces Employment Charity’s TechVets programme offers amazing training opportunities for those interested in getting into technology.


It’s important to have a positive outlook on your incredible skills, accomplishments and past successes. Practise self-reflection, for example, by writing down any challenges you have overcome. Reflect on your strengths and the value that you bring to the role. Identify your strengths by creating a list of your unique technical and soft skills, such as communication, problemsolving and adaptability. Recognising these strengths boosts confidence and helps maintain a positive outlook.

Celebrate your achievements both big and small. Remember the times when you reached a personal milestone or when you learned a new skill. Take the

Sarah Peñaluna

time to acknowledge and celebrate your successes. This can help you recognise that one job rejection does not define your worth or ability.


As a military spouse or partner, you’re not alone in facing the challenges of job hunting or rejection. There are specialised support resources tailored to the military community, such as the Forces Employment Charity’s Families Programme.

Our employment advisors are military spouses and are experts in employment support. They can provide personalised help and guidance throughout your career and help you access support with job searching techniques, CV improvements, interview practice, confidence building and networking.

You will have that career champion advocating for you every step of the way –on the good days and the bad.


It can be tough, but it’s essential to remain focused on your goals. Set realistic short-term and long-term objectives and celebrate small victories along the way. Remember that each rejection brings you closer to the right opportunity.


Coping with rejection is never easy, but remember that it’s a natural part of the job search process. Leverage your resilience as a military spouse or partner to persevere. Every setback is a stepping stone to success. With the right support and mindset, you can emerge stronger than ever on your career path. A

The Forces Employment Charity exists to provide support, job opportunities and training to service leavers, veterans, reservists and their families, irrespective of circumstances, rank, length of service, or reason for leaving.

Courses for entrepreneurs

Are you considering selfemployment? Spouses and partners of serving personnel can now access exclusive training sessions from X-Forces Enterprise in a comprehensive three-day training course that explores the pros and cons of self-employment, including its implications for family and finances.

The programme fosters a supportive community where military spouses can connect with like-minded individuals facing similar challenges. Through interactive sessions, participants gain essential skills and insights into entrepreneurship.

The next courses are scheduled for 12, 19 and 26 July 2024, in-person in Tidworth, and an online version via Zoom on 6, 13 and 20 November. Generously supported by the Royal British Legion, these courses are accessible free of charge.

“Excellent overview for starting a business. Great structure having other people there in the same situation to bounce ideas around and ask questions I hadn’t thought of.”

“I would 100 per cent recommend this course to anyone who is thinking about freelancing or starting a business, it was invaluable. Not only did I learn a huge amount, I came away with bags of confidence to go out and do it!”

“Could not recommend this course enough. Was great to meet like-minded people and make connections.”

Visit to find out more and register. X-Forces Enterprise also provides enterprise training courses for service leavers and veterans. A


Rosie McEwan, Community Liaison Officer in Mons, Belgium, takes a look at BritLEAD, a personal and professional development programme for military families.

Military families play a crucial role in supporting their serving personnel. However, they often face challenges, such as frequent relocations and career disruptions. BritLEAD came about as a means to bridge the gap in learning and development opportunities for military families, especially whilst overseas. It launched as a weekly group in January 2023 with the help of volunteers Robyn Watson and Vanessa Talbot-Brown.


BritLEAD aims to create a supportive community that enhances knowledge, skill sets and wellbeing. It aims to provide learning and development opportunities for British military family members, addressing their unique needs. The goal is to create a diverse and inclusive environment that promotes self-worth, confidence and employability.

The initiative focuses on delivering workshops, training and networking opportunities to enhance skills and share knowledge.

support and resources, BritLEAD aims to empower the whole community, improve morale, and increase spouses’ adaptability, regardless of their location or career changes.

Vanessa explains: “There is a tremendous amount available to spouses through official military charities such as free training, education, mentoring and small business advice, but we found that not many people were aware of this, me included.

It is aimed specifically at British military spouses, other halves and dependents of those serving at SHAPE but there are now plans to expand to other locations, including Naples.

“So, our mission is to provide signposting and access to the support for those of us who often face the challenges of frequent relocations and career disruptions.

“We meet most Thursdays at SHAPE house in term time and so far, we have had a variety of informal networking sessions and more formal talks and workshops from the likes of the Forces Employment Charity, AFF and BFBS Academy.”


BritLEAD strives to create an inclusive environment that supports all families. Sessions seem popular with male spouses who may not have wanted to attend other events. It aims to promote the wellbeing and mental health of individuals by fostering self-worth and confidence. Lastly, it seeks to prepare family members for future relocations through skill development such as interview techniques.

Sandra Grant, yoga teacher, mother-oftwo and army wife, explains: “BritLEAD has been a fantastic opportunity for me to invest in myself by developing new skills and revisiting ones that have faded over time. The sessions are a time to socialise with other people from the community, share stories and foster new friendships and connections. I have completed a business start-up course which has given me the confidence to move forward with my own business.”

Vanessa adds: “I have gained a tremendous amount from BritLEAD and from the volunteering. I did have quite a big job when in the UK and came here to have a career sabbatical but found my professional confidence did waver very quickly. Through BritLEAD’s CV and interview sessions plus access to monitoring through Tech Vets and the Forces Employment Charity, I feel it has put me in great stead for my return to the UK.”

To find out more, email A

Rosie McEwan and Esther Thomas of AFF

Overseas housing pilot


● You must be a UK Regular or Full Time Reserve Service (Full Commitment).

● Have an assignment, whether current or new, which must be designated as accompanied.

● You must have a registered LTR(E) on JPA and more than six months left on your assignment order.

● Your partner and children must meet the relevant supportability requirements for the specific site before permission will be given.

● If you are dual serving, and both are assigned to the same pilot location, you will be able to apply.


● If you are newly assigned to either of the locations or a newly registered LTR(E), with an accommodation required-by date from now until 31 March 2025, you can apply.

● Yes, if you met the criteria for applying within two months of the ‘go live’ date in January as either you were already overseas and living accompanied in a private dwelling or living unaccompanied overseas with an LTR(E) which pre-dated 2 January 2024 – don’t forget that you have to move into SFA before 21 July 2024.


● Allocations for LTR(E) personnel will be in line with current entitlements i.e. rank-based for officers and needsbased for other ranks.

● There is no entitlement to SSFA – if no SFA at entitlement is available, then one up or down will be considered.

Are you in an established long-term relationship (LTR(E)) and posted to the Falkland Islands or Cyprus?

If so, you may be eligible to be part of a new pilot which runs until 31 March 2025 which will enable you and your family to access SFA in these locations.

● There is no entitlement to transitional protection when you return to the UK should the Modernised Accommodation Offer policy be live at that point.

● Entitlement will continue until the end of the pilot period or the qualifying assignment end date, whichever is later.


The MOD definition of a long-term relationship differs to the Home Office definition and therefore if your LTR(E) partner is not a UK passport holder, you must show that you have lived together for at least two years to be eligible for a visa as a partner of a serving person.

The Home Office will expect evidence of this cohabitation. If you are not married and you cannot evidence that you have lived together for two years, then under current rules you will not meet the definition of a partner and will consequently not be eligible for a visa under armed forces immigration rules. There is no discretion to overlook this requirement. You will not be eligible for SFA unless you have a visa under armed forces immigration rules.


● SBA Cyprus – ‘on-island’ status will be provided by a Sovereign Base

Area Administration (SBAA) status card for service personnel, their long-term partner and any servicerecognised children. This will grant status and access to SBA-delivered medical and health provisions.

● The Falkland Islands – there are no visa requirements for service personnel or their family to live on the island. Entitled residency will grant status and access to defenceprovided medical and health provisions. For a working visa, the local process should be followed once on the island.


● A specific package of allowances has been created for the pilot locations which you can claim during the pilot only.

● Your soldier will need to contact the J1 branch and request a temporary change to PstatCat 1/1s on JPA for the duration of your time on the pilot.

● This will allow you to claim certain allowances, however, it will not entitle you to Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA) or Longer Separation Allowance (LSA). For more details, contact your unit admin team. A

Legendary bridge of lovers, Cyprus. Image:

Farewell to magnolia

Colour change: Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) has decided to move away from the magnolia paint and brown kitchens which used to form part of the standard for Service Family Accommodation (SFA).

The aim is to deliver homes which better reflect modern designs. Initially these changes are being made in SFA which are being completely refurbished, but the hope is that the improved changes will roll out to other homes later on.


To start with, you’ll see white walls instead of the usual magnolia paint, which should make your home look brighter and cleaner, and with the added neutral grey colour of the carpet and curtains, you’ll have more of a blank canvas to make your SFA your home.

Plug sockets are also being replaced with USB and USC sockets so you should see fewer arguments over the phone charger!


Kitchens and bathrooms are also getting a makeover. Instead of the current replacement of kitchen units, each SFA will have a redesign to ensure the best use of space.

Sturdier units are being sourced from a reputable merchant and there will also be a built-in raised oven and separate induction hob along with a new design of flooring and tiling.

Bathrooms will no longer have the ‘much loved’ hospital flooring and more modern tiles will be used. The lockable cabinet is being relocated in the kitchen or utility room and is being replaced with a mirror with a light and shaving point.

Downstairs toilets will also be updated at the same time as the bathroom and all WCs will now have a washbasin installed.

Bijay, who lives in SFA in Aldershot, said: “This is the best SFA we have ever had. My wife and I are so happy to see white walls with grey carpets and curtains, which is a perfect match. We are loving the modern kitchen and bathroom. Everyone who visits always says that we are so lucky to get this beautiful home. Hopefully, everyone’s SFA will be the same standard in the future.”

Obviously this change will be gradual and not everyone moving this summer will see the difference but AFF would love to hear what you think about the updates – A

Bijay and Deepika in the modernised kitchen

The idea came from our neighbours in Salalah (who didn’t actually end up doing it!) but with 18 months left in our Loan Service post, we decided we’d convert a Toyota Coaster school bus - these are very common in the Middle East.

About two months after buying it and starting to strip the seats and other fixtures out, we discovered we were pregnant with twins! This meant we’d be doing the trip with four kids under four, which would certainly make it more challenging!


Together with a small team of Omanis, Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis from the local industrial area, Alex worked late into the night over the summer to get the bus into shape for us to live, sleep, eat, wash and play in for the 40-day, 8,000km journey.

The preparations were significant: as we’d be travelling in June and July we needed an additional air-con unit to make it liveable. This was invaluable but in hindsight we wouldn’t attempt the trip again during the hottest part of the year!

It also meant we needed to fit a kilo-watt of solar panels to the roof and several huge lithium batteries, which also suffered in the heat.

The route itself meant we needed a huge variety of visas, documents and insurance paperwork – all of which we printed in triplicate to ensure a smooth passage.

We also reached out to the Defence Attachés and Loan Service teams along the route and we were genuinely humbled by

Going your own way

Whilst most families jump on a plane to and from their overseas postings, some choose to make the journey rather more of an adventure.

The Privately Arranged Passage (PAP) allowance allows families to use the money they would have been given for their flights home for their own travel costs. We hear from two families who have had some unforgettable experiences by doing just that…

their assistance, hospitality and network of local fixers.


Despite all of our preparations, things will always go wrong. On our trip we needed a new head gasket and engine rebuild in Riyadh, a hasty gear box repair in a retired brigadier’s driveway in Jordan, patching of a hole in the exhaust and a deep clean of the starter motor.

We ran low on the right type of oil, used lots of coolant which we’d brought with us and lost use of the handbrake, but fortunately we had enough stuff (and good luck) to keep us moving.

The most challenging point was getting into Israel from Jordan in an Omaniregistered bus… this attracted a slew of questions and was hot sweaty work stripping everything from the bus for it to be searched in the midmorning heat.

Our highlights included driving up the Red Sea coast of Saudi, travelling through Petra and wild camping near Karak in Jordan as well as island hopping in Croatia; wild camping on the Albania/Montenegro border and driving up the Adriatic coast.

The Mills family – From Oman to Estonia

Whilst every day brought its own challenges, it was a brilliant trip and we made it to Tallinn in good order. If we were to do it again, it would be in a slightly more reliable vehicle and with all passengers over the age of six!


There are certain allowances which may support a family who wish to drive a vehicle instead of flying to or from an overseas assignment.

● Self-Drive may help you claim back some costs for fuel and gives a night’s subsistence when travelling. It can be used for some countries; you can only use this instead of using the options under Overseas Private Vehicle Provision (OPVP).

● Privately Arranged Passage (PAP) helps towards mileage costs, up to the cost of a flight but doesn’t give subsistence. This has to be agreed in advance by the unit admin team and can only be used in certain countries.


The Clemerson family – From Izmir to Yorkshire

After an incredible two years at HQ Allied Land Command in Izmir, it was time for us to return to the UK. Whilst many of our friends had their houses packed up and returned via air, we had decided to join the small group of people that made the return to the UK a real adventure.

Having already bought a roof tent and trailer locally, which we had used on many adventures during our posting, our Ford Kuga was ready to go. We knew we had the PAP to offset the cost of the road trip back (the standard price of our family’s plane tickets was about £1,500) and we wanted to use the full 14 days, taking in as much as we could through each country we stopped in.


If you’ve got a unique travel experience in between overseas postings, with valuable advice to share with others, do let us know at overseassuport@

Our plan was to avoid the major tourist spots and discover more than just the capital cities. We pre-booked camp sites, some self-contained apartments and some hotel rooms prior to setting off just so we knew we had somewhere to sleep – the rules of wild camping varied significantly in each country!


The first leg of our journey took us to Canakkale for a picture in front of the wooden horse used in the film Troy, before leaving Turkey for the final time and driving into Greece where it almost immediately started raining!

The first few days of the trip saw some amazing sites in north-west Greece, North Macedonia and Albania, before heading through Montenegro and into Croatia where we had scheduled a rest day in the incredible but expensive city of Dubrovnik.

Split and Rijeka followed before heading into Slovenia. I would encourage anyone thinking about visiting Slovenia to absolutely go for it – it’s an incredible country with the most hospitable people (as well as the best hot chocolate we have ever tasted)!

Austria and Germany were next on the list and into the Netherlands ahead of the overnight ferry from Rotterdam to Hull. Before we knew it, we had travelled over 4,000km, visited 11 countries in 13 days and had the most incredible experience.


For anyone thinking about driving to Izmir or back to the UK our advice would be go for it, but check all the small print on your vehicle insurance details. Before our trip we found our UK and European car insurance didn’t cover all 11 countries so some car insurance payments were made at international borders.

Also, take plenty of local currency in cash as most petrol stations had toilets that only took cash payments and let your bank know that you are travelling through Europe so they don’t decline your credit cards! A

You can speak to your unit admin team to discuss what is available for your assignment, or feedback your thoughts at


Reaching military communities worldwide

The British Forces Broadcasting Service (BFBS) provides TV, digital, cinema and radio services that are available worldwide to the armed forces and their families.


When you’re overseas BFBS brings you a free mix of the best of current British TV, live sport and big movies.

Where there is good internet overseas, BFBS TV Player offers over 35 channels and allows you to watch your favourite TV shows plus movies and big ticket sport, live or on demand to suit your time zone and location. You can watch on your mobile or connected TV app.

If your internet connection isn’t great but you are in a country within satellite reach covering almost 70% of the globe, BFBS can still offer you 12 TV channels, including BBC, ITV, plus new movies and series as well as live action from Sky Sports and TNT Sports.

For those serving or deployed overseas in remote locations and at sea, BFBS MiPlayer provides BFBS TV live and on demand, as well as BFBS Radio, digital newspapers, magazines and more, either communally or on a personal device, even with limited or no internet.


Listening to BFBS Radio overseas is a great way to listen to music, keep up to date with what’s going on on the base and in the local areas, as well as keeping up with other news.

Live and local radio stations in countries including Canada, Cyprus, Nepal and Gibraltar are part of the military community and, in addition to providing local radio shows, often put on live and virtual community events.

You can listen to BFBS Radio anywhere in the world via the app, the website, or on your smart speaker. In the UK, you can listen to BFBS Radio nationwide

on DAB+, or via FM and AM in specific locations across the UK and Northern Ireland.

If you’re overseas, you can listen via your BFBS TV service, and you can also tune in to BFBS Radio 2, featuring the best of UK radio, including live sport from 5 Live and talkSPORT, news and current affairs from Radio 4, and programmes from Times Radio.

BFBS also has two radio stations dedicated to the Gurkha community – the BFBS Gurkha Network which is available in key locations across the UK, and the BFBS Samishran music service which is available on the website and app.


BFBS has cinemas at bases across the UK, in Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. The Movie Machine also travels the UK bringing the cinema to you.

Alternatively, Cinelink is the easy-to-use, portable movie service that can turn a

BFBS satellite coverage enables access to BFBS services

mess, welfare hub or community venue into a cinema, and is an optional add-on BFBS service to consider asking local command to explore for your community and is available worldwide.


If you’re interested in the latest military news and stories, you can visit forces. net and sign up to the newsletter. The Forces News YouTube channel has more than 785,000 subscribers and offers everything from breaking global military news to videos featuring local community events, activities of individual units, and live streams of military sport.


BFBS provides morale-boosting live entertainment to operational troops around the world. It also brings that same positive energy to events in the UK and can deliver welfare support to community events to suit your budget.



For more information, visit or follow them on social media.

BFBS also donates funding to a variety of projects. You can apply for help via forms.bfbs. com/beneficiaryfund A

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A postcard from...

How long have you been an army family?

We have been married for 20 years.

Time in Oklahoma?

Two years stationed at Fort Sill.

How many other military families live there?

About 27,000 service family members are affiliated to Fort Sill. We are the only British family but are living on a large US military patch which is very sociable. We are also part of the foreign liaison community so have lots of friends from other foreign militaries as well as our US friends.

What’s your quarter like?

Big, quite old but very comfortable. It has great original features such as wooden floors throughout and a lovely big fireplace. It is great to be on the patch as it is really safe, and we never have to worry about locking the doors. The properties are all fully air conditioned which becomes essential in the summer months.

Tim (serving), Olivia, Lucy (18) and Ellie (16)

Are there any employment/ training opportunities?

It is possible to get a work visa, but it takes a while. Olivia does lots of volunteering in places like the thrift store and in community groups.

What about schools/ childcare?

Our children are at boarding school in England so they don’t attend the local schools, although our youngest spent a couple of days visiting a local high school with an American friend. There is a very big elementary school which has a very good reputation. However, the curriculum is very different, and the local high schools are not as well regarded. A lot of the international students also follow their home curriculum so as not to fall behind.

Where do army families get together and who supports you?

There are lots of community spaces where families can

get together, these include community centres, swimming pools, gyms, a bowling alley and clubs.

There are also plenty of outdoor pursuits to try; Fort Sill also has its own outdoor recreation centre on a nearby lake. The main social hub is the Patriot Club which used to be the officers’ club but is now an all-ranks facility. They hold regular functions and events for everyone to attend. Direct UK support is delivered remotely from the Embassy in Washington DC.

How do you find the cost of living out there?

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

Mixed. Food bills are always very high, eating out is much more expensive and car insurance is very high when compared to the UK. We get very good Local Overseas Allowance though, which does help. However, travel costs are lower, fuel is cheap

and there are always very reasonable hotels to stay in where you can get comfortable family rooms.

Initial setting up costs are high but are balanced out by the allowances, a longer tour therefore helps to recoup these costs.

Military discounts are common and there is never any harm in asking. The Get You Home (Overseas) allowance will go some way towards your annual visit home but is unlikely to cover the whole cost. However, ultimately, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity so one should expect to outlay a bit to try and experience some of the best of what the US has to offer.

What are the best things about living there?

The friendly people, the almost constant blue sky, being welcomed into another military community and the travel opportunities. We have visited 26 states and had the most wonderful family adventures. A

A different kind of service

Gill Charlton, a military spouse and a veteran, served 24 years in the army but swapped service for ceremonies to forge a new career as a celebrant.

Celebrants perform wedding and civil partnership celebration ceremonies, vow renewal ceremonies, naming ceremonies and celebration of life ceremonies.

Her time in the military saw Gill serve in the Royal Signals, Intelligence Corps and Adjutant General’s Corps as part of the Army Welfare Service.


She is neurodivergent and has overcome both cancer and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but far from dwelling on the past, she is always on the lookout for opportunities to use her experience to support others through the power of storytelling. In her capacity as a celebrant, the telling of other people’s stories is crucial as she marks the major milestones of life.

Gill’s journey was supported by X-Forces Enterprise (XFE), which provides selfemployment training, mentoring and funding for members of the armed forces community.

“I was lucky to have access to training opportunities delivered by XFE,” Gill says. “These provided me with an insight into the fundamentals of small business ownership and connected me with other veterans on similar journeys. This in turn gave me the confidence to go forward with my decision.

“Running my own business gives me flexibility to manage my time

around existing family and personal commitments, which is really important to me, particularly with the additional challenges of being a service spouse.”


As a professionally trained, independent celebrant, Gill creates and delivers bespoke, personalised ceremonies.

As she’s not tied to any religion or formal legal requirements, the ceremonies can be as traditional or unique as her clients wish.

Martin Wing, Co-CEO at X-Forces Enterprise, said: “Gillian’s journey is a testament to resilience. At XFE, we are proud to have supported Gill and thousands like her to be their own boss and carve their own path in fulfilling careers, with a broad package of free-toaccess support.”

For more on XFE, see page 19. A

A step in theright direction

AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, Katherine Houlston, discusses some recent positive changes to the immigration rules…


From 11 April 2024 the Minimum Income Requirement (MIR) for members of the armed forces sponsoring non-UK partners and children has been a flat figure of £23,496. The MIR will no longer increase depending on the number of children being sponsored.

This is a significant change to the previous MIR, which had long prevented many

non-UK soldiers with two or more children from bringing their families to the UK to join them.

A soldier will start earning £23,496 after 26 weeks’ service or on completion of Initial Trade Training, whichever is sooner. However, it is necessary to have earned that amount for at least six months as you’ll need to provide payslips and bank statements for the six months before the date of application.

The decision to align the MIR to the salary threshold of an army private on completion of training takes into account the unique role played by members of the armed forces, the nature of their service and the sacrifices made.

It also recognises the UK government’s moral obligations to service personnel and their families under the Armed Forces Covenant.

“I have received helpful, clear advice on moving to an armed forces spouse visa and now have a clear path to ILR. Thank you to the AFF team for your persistence!”

It’s worth noting that the MIR under Appendix Armed Forces is different to that under Appendix FM (the civilian route) which will increase to £38,700 by 2025.

For further detail about this new requirement and information about the transitional provisions for those who have already applied, see


There are also other positive changes to the immigration rules for the armed forces.

Inclusion of a route for step-children –previous armed forces immigration rules had missed out a route for step-children of soldiers, meaning that these applications were often refused or were granted on a different route to their parent, leading to long delays and extra expense in trying to rectify the situation.

Having raised this issue for a number of years, we are very pleased to see stepchildren of soldiers provided for in the new rules.

Ability to count time on other routes towards the qualifying period for settlement – the old rules had prevented people who had been in the UK on the

Katie and her family

civilian family route (Appendix FM) or on work routes before switching to the armed forces rules, from counting that time towards the five years needed for an Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) application. You can now count time on those routes provided you have held a visa under Appendix HM Armed Forces for at least 12 months. (Student routes are not a route to settlement so they can’t be counted.)

Katie initially joined her British husband in the UK under civilian family rules, but he then enlisted two months later. In 2020 she switched to the armed forces rules but we explained that she would have to start the five years to settlement all over again as there was no ability at that point to combine the time spent on a different route.

Fortunately for her, the rule change means that she became eligible for ILR last year and can now apply as soon as she wishes.

Katie says: “I reached out to AFF for support navigating the confusing immigration system. I have received helpful, clear advice on moving to an armed forces spouse visa and now have a clear path to ILR. Thank you to the AFF team for your persistence!”

Change to the definition of an unmarried partner – the old rules had required that unmarried couples must have lived together for at least two years to meet the definition of a partner. The new definition of an unmarried partner is that they must meet the ‘durable relationship’ requirement. This does not require you to be living together as long as the relationship is ‘similar’ to a marriage or civil partnership and has been subsisting for more than two years. You can find a link to suggested supporting evidence on

Addition of GCSEs and A-levels to the list of accepted qualifications to meet the English language requirement – in a very welcome change the Home Office will now accept GCSE and A-level English language or literature passed at level 4 or above, as long as the exams were taken following education in a UK school which began while the child was under 18 (we are currently raising the question as to whether this will include MOD schools overseas). A


The Confederation of Service Charities (COBSEO) hosts a number of different cluster groups to help collaborative working between charities and to ensure that issues are raised and solutions and actions identified.

The Non-UK cluster, jointly chaired by AFF and the Royal British Legion, is unique in that single service and MOD representatives are also invited, along with the Home Office and the Office of Veterans Affairs (OVA).

Researchers undertaking projects involving non-UK serving personnel, veterans and families also regularly attend.

This has resulted in a very effective and proactive group which is able to liaise directly with the Home Office on immigration policies and can provide relevant evidence when requested.

Most crucially, the group works together to try to minimise any disadvantage faced by non-UK soldiers, families and veterans across all aspects of life in the UK.

Recent work within the cluster has included:

● Development of a fully comprehensive non-UK tracker, bringing together issues raised by all stakeholders. This document enables issues to be prioritised and provides a route to raise issues higher where they cannot be resolved.

● A briefing paper on the armed forces immigration rules, highlighting a number of areas in which the rules disadvantage the non-UK community. A number of these disadvantages have now been removed by the new Appendix HM Armed Forces and the Home Office has agreed to a meeting later in the year to discuss the rest of them.

● Publication of two separate pieces of research by Anglia Ruskin University and RAND, both looking at understanding and improving the lived experience of non-UK service personnel, families and veterans throughout service and on transition. Research in this area has been lacking so these are very welcome. A

Healthcare support

Moving can be stressful at the best of times but when it’s a regular occurrence, sometimes at short notice, it can be more challenging.

AFF often receives enquiries about transferring healthcare and patient records, so Karen Ross, AFF Health and Additional Needs Specialist, looks at some of the support available when moving during service and also when leaving the armed forces…


The NHS App may allow you to book appointments (although some GP practices don’t allow this function), order repeat prescriptions and choose a pharmacy to collect them from and access your GP health record, so you can see information about your allergies and medicines. Some GP practices allow access to more detailed information like your test results. You can also find your NHS number, register organ donation and use NHS 111 to get local advice and medical help.

When you register with a GP practice, it can be beneficial for you to inform them that you are a member of the armed forces community

To use the app you must be over 13 and registered with a GP surgery in England or the Isle of Man. Young people aged 13–15 will need to contact their GP practice first to access login information and verify their identity. Parents or guardians can request to have their children’s records linked to their account if they are under 13.

If you are registered at a Defence Medical Services (DMS) medical practice, you cannot use the app currently.

If you live in Scotland, you can download the NHS 24 Online App. This can help you to find your nearest healthcare services and to assess your symptoms and find the support and treatment you require.

If you live in Wales, you can access the NHS Wales App but you must be registered with a GP practice in Wales that has connectivity to the app and you must also be aged 16 or over. The NHS Wales App will give you access to health advice, organ and blood donation and access to NHS 111 health advice.


When you move from one location to another in England you will transfer from one Integrated Care Board (ICB) to another. To find which ICB your care will come under, search ‘ICB’ at You can also find information on the GP practices in your new location at

If you’re undergoing treatment, taking medication or are on an NHS waiting list for treatment, it’s important to request a summary of your patient health record before you move, as this can be given

to your new GP practice so they have information before your patient records are transferred.

When you register with a GP practice, it can be beneficial for you to inform them that you are a member of the armed forces community and this can be recorded via a code, which is 988811000000102 for families of serving members of the armed forces. The code is 702348006 for those who are on active military duty and there are others for reservists and veterans. One of the benefits of using these codes is the access you may be eligible for through the NHS Op services that include Op COMMUNITY, Op COURAGE, Op RESTORE and Op NOVA.

If you are due to leave the armed forces or have just left, see armed-forces-community for details of other Op services.


When looking to register with an NHS GP practice in England, it’s worth checking if it’s Veteran Friendly accredited. It’s important to register with a practice as soon as possible and tell them you’ve served/are a service family, rather than wait until you need treatment.

The Veteran Friendly accreditation scheme by the Royal College of GPs and NHS England enables GP practice teams to easily identify, understand and support veterans and their families.

If you’re not sure whether a practice is accredited, you can ask them. Similar schemes are available in Scotland and Wales.

For information on the scheme, email army veteran Dr Jo Ferguson, joanne.ferguson15@nhs. net


services, recognising the key issues that may affect military life.

Ashlee Manning and Lauren Young are the armed forces community leads for Op COMMUNITY in Hertfordshire & West Essex. Their role involves reaching out to the armed forces community, including carers and families, to provide ‘social prescribing’ support.

Social prescribing provides personcentred care by asking individuals specifically what matters to them. The team can then help families to navigate the options to find a service, activity or group in the community that fits their practical, social and emotional needs.

The Op COMMUNITY model of care has been introduced by NHS England in eight pilot sites around the country.

It aims to make sure the armed forces community is able to access NHS

Ashlee and Lauren help with mental health, housing, loneliness, job seeking and signposting to other organisations. They provide advice and guidance on how to use the NHS, including how to continue current treatment and/or keeping NHS waiting list places. They can also liaise with armed forces charities and organisations if needed.

To contact the team, phone 07940 177581 or email


The Victim Witness Care Unit (VWCU) is part of the Defence Serious Crime Command (DSCC) and is independent of the chain of command.

The VWCU provides a central point of contact to victims and witnesses of serious crime committed by a person subject to service law in both the UK and overseas. It also offers support and guidance to victims and witnesses of serious crime, who are yet to formally report the incident to the Defence Serious Crime Unit.

Each person referred to the VWCU


Richard* self-referred his family to Op COMMUNITY. His family had been relocated multiple times, and as a result his wife was removed from their previous dental practice. Having recently given birth, Richard’s wife was unable to access the NHS maternity exemption for dental care as they were still on a waiting list.

Following a private appointment, she discovered that a double root canal was needed, and an infection was taking hold. The couple had tried to register at a dentist in the new location before moving but had not been able to do this.

The Op COMMUNITY link worker was able to suggest multiple dentist practices that could support Richard’s wife and called the practices on her behalf. The worker made it clear that they were a serving family and asked that they were placed on the shortest waiting list. Subsequently the waiting time was reduced to two weeks.

*Name has been changed to protect identity

Op COMMUNITY was introduced as part of the NHS Long Term Plan and Armed Forces Forward View commitment to the armed forces community. The pilots are being evaluated to inform future models of care for the armed forces community.

Awill be allocated a Victim Liaison Officer (VLO) who will act as a central point of contact, providing support and guidance where required, throughout their journey through the service justice system and beyond.

The VWCU works collaboratively with other agencies to provide victims and witnesses access to specialist support.

Contact the VWCU on 07974 074259 from 8am to 4pm Monday to Thursday and 8am to 3.30pm Friday. You can also email - they aim to respond to emails within five working days. A

Ashlee Manning


AFF is often asked to support specific research projects and studies where they complement areas of our policy work. AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross, provides an update on the research and work she has been involved in recently…


AFF has been invited onto the steering group for the Oxford Brookes University research study Supporting All to Thrive This project is being funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust, under the MOD Armed Forces Family Fund Research Grant programme.

The study’s aim is to provide a clearer overview of the educational outcomes of service children with Special Educational Needs and Disability and to understand their educational experiences.


The Families Federations have been invited onto the study advisory group for King’s College London’s Life Q study.

The study is being undertaken to learn more about lifestyle behaviours such as alcohol use, exercise, eating, smoking, vaping and the social lives of non-serving spouses and partners of military personnel and veterans. It has now reached the second stage where the researchers are

undertaking literature reviews and looking at life contexts and behaviours. We will be providing updates on this at


The UK Veterans Family Study was funded by the Forces in Mind Trust and National Lottery Community Fund and provides the first overview of the psychological health and wellbeing of the UK’s veterans and their families. The study involved researchers from the King’s Centre for Military Health Research and Queen’s University Belfast.

Karen, alongside the other Families Federations, was part of the expert advisory group. This study and subsequent report has recommended that research, policy and services should start focusing on the wellbeing of family members of veterans in their own right, rather than just as potential support for the veteran.

It said that most veteran families appeared to have good psychological health after military service, but there was a small number of veterans, partners and adult


The King’s Centre for Military Health Research is looking for family and friends of serving personnel and veterans to join its Military-Connected Family and Friends Panel to help shape research into the serving community. If you’re interested in taking part, email

children who might need support with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety and alcohol misuse.

The mental health impact of caring for a veteran with PTSD was mentioned in interviews with participants. Families also reported difficulties managing finances during and after service, especially when their soldier was discharged unexpectedly and they had no time to plan.


The NHS has a legal requirement to consult with patients, families and carers on the services that it delivers. This is done through Patient and Public Voice (PPV) groups.

Karen represents AFF on the Armed Forces PPV group. Members include serving personnel, reservists, veterans and their families.

The group works with the NHS England Armed Forces healthcare commissioning team to ensure that the needs of the armed forces community are considered. A

Scan here to read the impact report.

Rewards for service

AFF Money & Allowances Specialist Claire Hallam takes a look at the role of the army allowance team…

The two-person allowance team that sits within remuneration policy is currently made up of Lieutenant Colonel Iain Wallace OBE and Major William Hodgson, who are based at the MOD in Whitehall, London.

They sit on the sixth floor amongst the Defence People team, within armed forces remuneration alongside the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Pay Colonel teams. Allowances policy is tri-service and is owned by Chief of Defence People (CDP).

The team develops and communicates financial conditions of service to match the needs of the army – they work hard to explain policy,

whilst also listening to the voice of the service person and their family.

For Iain and Will to influence and highlight the interests of the army, they work to understand the impact of allowances on service personnel and families and use this feedback to protect current allowances, and where possible, enhance them.

Major Hodgson says: “We have cemented a strong and lasting relationship with AFF, who provide a vital feedback loop so that we can hone in on issues affecting service personnel and army families. In conjunction with AFF, we are constantly looking at ways to communicate allowance policy.”


With limited additional funding, the allowance team has been able to improve the offer. They have made a difference in passport and visa provisions for service personnel and their families, simplified Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), enabled more soldiers to be eligible for Overseas Private Vehicle Provision and made several improvements to Get You Home (Overseas) policy.

Although outside of the scope of allowances, the team was also able to bid and secure funding to issue all new joiners to the army with a free HM Forces Railcard, both Regular and Reserve, which was a positive change, especially for junior ranks.

They have also made changes to Respite Provision and School Children’s Visits.


Get You Home (Overseas)

Changes to policy to allow those with dual nationality to use their flight allowance to return to their country of origin. In addition, service personnel are now able to claim night and day subsistence for long journeys and car parking fees at the port of embarkation.

Respite Provision (RP) Service personnel can now

use the accommodation element of RP when back in the UK as part of GYH(O). This combined offer creates more flexibility.

Passports and visas

Personnel are now able to claim for new passports and improved subsistence for those who require travel for visas.

School Children’s Visits (SCVs)

To counter incorrect use of SCVs, an additional one-way journey is now provided to allow a child to travel at public expense to begin higher education if they are abroad at the start of their course. Working with AFF, the offer was changed in six weeks.

Local Overseas Allowance (LOA)

The allowance was enhanced to contribute towards high car insurance costs in the USA.

Overseas Private Vehicle Provision (OPVP)

Service personnel can now claim OPVP when they sell their car in the UK and lease overseas – a new option which became available from 1 January 2024.

Disturbance Expense – Child Element

Feedback from families with children is vitally important, and the team’s paper to increase the Child Element of Disturbance Expense was approved. From 1 April 2024 it increased from £81 to £109.41.

Day Subsistence

The team listened to feedback and supported an uplift to the rates of UK Day Subsistence. This rose from £25 to £30 on 1 April 2024.

Nepal Trek Allowance

Enabled an uplift in rates for the first time in many years. A


Whilst the Modernised Accommodation Offer has been paused, there are two new positive elements which were rolled out in March, which may help support you financially.


New Single Living Accommodation (SLA) waivers became available on 11 March, which means that all serving personnel will now be able to access a waiver, so you don’t need to pay SLA charges for 12 months.


at Work Address from which you are commuting daily.

You must have started or be due to start at your assignment at the relevant duty station within the same or previous tax year to when the property was purchased and be assigned.

refund of legal expense is now available to help first-time buyers wanting to get on the property ladder

It will support you if you live in your own home but need SLA during the week because it’s too far to commute. The home can’t be your Residence at Work Address (which is an address within 50 miles or 90 minutes travel of the duty station).

Previously, army personnel were mostly only able to claim a waiver via the Army Over-37 Provision, and this only helped support those who were married or in a civil partnership or army personnel who were over 37 years of age. The Army Provision has now closed but if you are already on it, don’t worry, your waiver will continue until your next assignment.


A refund of legal expense is now available to help first-time buyers wanting to get on the property ladder and supports towards legal expenses of up to £1,500.

You can claim back legal fees for a solicitor or searches, but it doesn’t include stamp duty. The good news is that it can be used with the Forces Help to Buy scheme.

There are conditions to be eligible and you will need to buy a home near your duty station which is your Residence

You must also have an expectation of at least 12 months left to serve in that assignment or your family should live in the home for 12 months.

You will need to pay the costs yourself first and then claim them back. A


If you’d like to tell us about your issues and concerns, please don’t hesitate to get in touch – see page 3 for all our details.

A healthy slice of parenting paradise

Shared Parental Leave (ShPL) gives you more choice in how you care for your child during their first year. If you’re a working parent, you can opt to share up to 50 weeks leave, and up to 37 weeks of statutory shared parental pay with your partner.

There are several ways you can use ShPL – having time off together or at different times, depending on your own circumstances.

Jon, who is serving in the REME and his wife Wendy, an NHS dentist, decided to take full advantage of their ShPL time together. Jon tells us how it all started…

We have two girls, Leah and Heidi, who were aged two and three months respectively when we started our ShPL experience.

Wendy shared five months of her maternity leave with me, which meant I could take five months ShPL and some annual leave at the same time Wendy was off work.

We did a smaller trip after Leah was born, so we had a good idea of what we could achieve. Wendy’s first words on discovering she was pregnant were, “I’m pregnant! Where shall we go travelling?”, and that’s where it all started.

After much deliberation we decided on central Europe for three months in our caravan, followed by Australia for two months via Thailand and Abu Dhabi. We tried our best to think big, ignored the naysayers and started to plan our adventure.


Wendy planned our route through Europe from Dunkirk to the edge of the Alps and back. We went through Belgium, Holland, Germany, along the Austrian border, then to France and Luxembourg.

We passed wine regions and followed the Romantic Road in Germany where we visited Rothenberg, the most stunning town I have ever seen.

Our halfway point was Oberstdorf, just in the Alps. Here we took cable cars up mountains, tobogganed down hillsides and watched ski jumpers doing their summer training.

Our return journey went via Lake Constance and the Black Forest where we enjoyed a toddler theme park where adults acted as the ride operators. We enjoyed live music, a community-run circus and various swimming pools. We visited Strasbourg, Luxembourg and Lille and marvelled at their beautiful architecture and ancient monuments.

From France we returned to Bristol for a quick pitstop, had some family catch-ups and then packed our bags for part two of our adventure.


The beach soon became our playground, and the kids loved it. They grew in confidence as they played in the surf and enjoyed being pulled along on a bodyboard.

We visited theme parks, went swimming in a shark enclosure and stroked the slimy wings of rays. We sat with kangaroos and watched sleeping koalas, all to the girls’ delight.

To explore more of Australia, Wendy planned a road trip to Sydney. Along the way we visited rainforest parks, great canyons and the Blue Mountains, as well as an old hideout of the infamous highway man, Captain Thunderbolt. It was here that Leah asked if Captain Morgan would be there! (No prizes for guessing what we were drinking in the evenings.)

We saw many animals in the wild, and on one occasion Leah was the first to see a wallaby as we walked through a wood –the experience made her day.

air and others had calves by their side. We sat in awe for nearly two hours, amazed at the sea life in front of us.

Australia was a great place to travel with children. Wildlife was abundant and the ocean teemed with life.


Lastly, we flew to Abu Dhabi; a land of wealth and a mixing pot of world cultures. We visited the incredibly exquisite Presidential Palace and Grand Mosque, we went driving in the sand dunes, rode a camel and watched the sunset from the desert. It was truly amazing and a world so different to any other we had visited.

After four days in Abu Dhabi we flew back to the UK, and it didn’t take long before our minds started to think about our next adventure.

When Wendy first mentioned taking ShPL, I thought “I can’t leave work for several months”. But Wendy responded with “it’s no different to women taking maternity leave” – she had a point.

I had some mental blocks to taking ShPL, but having spent every day for six months with my family, it has been the most fantastic experience and as a result I have developed a closer bond with my children.

Our journey started in Bangkok where we caught up with an old friend, Pun, who I trained with at Sandhurst. He took us to see ancient temples and elephants. We saw as much of Bangkok as we could before departing for Australia.

By now Leah enjoyed flying, she loved learning about take-off and landings, when to pull back on her imaginary control stick and when to hit the brakes. Making the experience fun made flying with a toddler much easier, although it didn’t help with the 3am jet lag!

In Australia we discovered wildlife everywhere, fantastic play parks and pristine beaches with showers and barbecues for all to use.

At Sydney we surfed and played on Bondi Beach, walked along the most spectacular coastline and visited the maritime museum, where Leah loved going through the Second World War submarine and playing pirates on the deck of a tall ship.

On our return journey we visited a lighthouse on a protruding headland where we saw 20-30 migrating whales. One breached every time it came up for

To be part of all the fun we had, as well as the hard times, and all the lifelessons we learnt, is something I will be forever thankful for. I know it will pay dividends in the future development of our children, whilst giving us memories for a lifetime.

Our advice is to take ShPL, if you can. Take as much and do as much as you can, think big and be bold. Ignore the naysayers and seek to create an experience that will stay with you all forever. A

For more information about the Armed Forces Occupational Shared Parental Leave Scheme, see Chapter 27 of JSP 760 and check your personal eligibility on the ShPL page on Discover My Benefits or by speaking to your unit admin team.

A chronicle of the modern British Army

Army&You caught up with portrait photographer Rory Lewis, who provides an update on his Soldiery project…

Above: Capt Anani-Isaac
Right: The then Lt Gen Sharon Nesmith

EMBARKING on the journey of Soldiery has been a profound odyssey, intertwining history, artistry and the rich tapestry of the modern British Army. Over the span of two dedicated years, I crisscrossed the nation, visiting 23 diverse regiments, with their own traditions, uniform and heritage.

From the storied landscapes of Fort George in Inverness to the bustling streets of London, Andover, and Aldershot, my lens captured the essence of the army’s leaders and soldiers.

Living history lesson

The project was more than a visual exploration; it was a living history lesson, a testament to the evolving face of the British Army in the 21st century.

Diversity emerged as a central theme, transcending borders as soldiers from Malawi, Zimbabwe, Canada and Australia shared their unique stories.

As Soldiery evolved, so did the narrative of the British Army. The project expanded to encapsulate the changing dynamics, focusing on the first women assuming combat roles.

The portrait of Lieutenant General Sharon Nesmith became a milestone, commemorating her historic journey from commanding a brigade in 2014 to becoming the first woman promoted to lieutenant general in 2022.

In a recent commission, I added another chapter to my portfolio, capturing the retirement portrait of General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith.

The image, joining the gallery of former Chiefs of

the General Staff, symbolises the historical legacy of military leadership.

Telling a story

My lens has not only documented faces but also the very soul of the British Army. Every scar, every line and every mark tell a story, echoing the sentiments of heroism and responsibility ingrained in these regiments. The portraits aim not just for accuracy but for truth, drawing inspiration from the meticulous detail of George Dawe’s military paintings.

Soldiery is a celebration of the proud identity of each regiment, both past and present. It’s a visual narrative that captures the spirit of the British Army.

Through these portraits, I strive to create not just a collection but a timeless reflection of the soldiers who make history every day.

In every corner of the nation, from the Yorkshire Dales to the heart of London, I have witnessed the faces of the British Army – a living, breathing testament to the enduring legacy of their service.

It’s an privilege to be the storyteller, the chronicler, capturing the essence of the military in its full regalia, exuding the honour and dignity befitting their role.

Soldiery is more than a project; it’s a journey through time, a visual symphony of faces that will resonate as a historical record of the British Army in the early 21st century.

Through my lens, I continue to weave the narrative of the soldiers who, in their diversity and unity, define the soul of the modern British Army.

To find out more, visit soldiery A

Above: Gen Sir Mark Carleton-Smith
Below: Lt Batts

Managing your army career

Who can I speak to about my army career?

The first point of contact for career management is your line manager and the Regimental Career Management Officer (RCMO) or Adjutant for officers. Serving personnel are each responsible for engaging with their own careers and the careers of their subordinates.

Do I get a say in where I’m assigned to next?

The army makes every effort to meet an individual’s posting preferences through appointment boards. The APC always strives to ensure the needs of the army come first; those of officers, soldiers and their families must come a close second. But to be worthy of its pre-eminence

Kentigern House in Glasgow is home to the Army Personnel Centre (APC); with 104 different trade groups, 260 organisations, and assignments on a two to three-year basis, its team have their work cut out.

During a recent visit, Emma Perrin, our Devolved Nations Manager took the opportunity to find out the answers to a few FAQs on how to successfully manage your army career…

the army must be seen to give due consideration to the best interests and preferences of each individual officer and soldier”.

“The needs of the army come first; those of officers, soldiers and their families must come a close second.”

What this means is on an appointing board, every effort will be made to match an individual with one of their preferences. There will be occasions when a directed posting is necessary and an

individual will be assigned to a post not on their list.

The army tries to avoid this, and the serving person can help by filling out their Posting Preference Performa (PPP) on JPA in a varied manner with options in different areas.

I need to stay at my current location, is this possible?

There is a difference between want and need. If a soldier wants to stay in a post when their future availability date (FAD) is on the horizon, depending on the needs of the service and the possible negative career implications of staying in the same place, there is scope for the RCMO to engage with the APC on the soldier’s behalf to ask if an extension is possible.

If a soldier has been in Cyprus for two postings and has asked to extend, this is potentially unfair to their peers who cannot then have the opportunity to be selected for that posting, so there always needs to be a balance of fairness to all.

If there is a need for a person to stay in their current posting, then the need should be communicated to their line manager, chain of command, RCMO, and possibly the welfare officer depending on the circumstances, and then processed to the APC.

There are mechanisms in place within the army to support a variety of situations that the soldier may feel is critical, such as service couples discussions and flexible service.

Emma Perrin

What should I consider before putting my name forward for an overseas posting?

Three of the main considerations that have been known to cause challenges in the past are like for like medical care if posted abroad, educational needs for children and employment opportunities for partners. RCMOs and APC career managers are best positioned to support and advise on stability before an overseas posting is applied for.

If I am assigned to a job or location that I don’t want, can I say no?

In short, no. An assignment order is an order. However, if a soldier believes there is a reason that they can’t be assigned to a particular job or location, depending on

the circumstances, it could be changed. Grounds for a change are usually related to compassionate, medical, welfare or other exceptional circumstances and would be specific for that soldier.

What resources are available from the APC that serving personnel can use outside of the chain of command?

The APC has a tool called Ask a Question in the APC, on the APC Defence Connect page. This tool is a great resource that allows all serving personnel to engage with the APC directly regarding general career/policy advice but not individual cases.

Where can I find career management policy?

Career management (CM)

policy varies in location depending on rank, cap badge and terms of service. All CM policy is open source on MODNet and Defence Connect and can be found by using the search tools, however, if you don’t know what you are looking for, it can be challenging.

Most CM policy can be found on the APC Defence Connect policy portal. It is important to use the expertise of unit RCMOs due to the

nature of policy being owned by APC and individual cap badges, as well as some other stakeholders. The different documents and policies need to be read in conjunction with each other.

How do I stay current with CM policy and changes that are made?

The best way is to follow the APC Defence Connect page and talk to your RCMO. A


Kentigern House, Glasgow

Planning ahead for education

Every family is aware that a move is likely to result in a new school for their children. AFF Education & Childcare Specialist
Anna Hutchinson explains when you need to start applying for schools

The best time to apply is when you first hear the news that you are moving as each area of the UK and overseas has variations to its education offer.


Think carefully about the ages of your children, especially if they are in or are about to enter a critical stage of their education. These phases will involve them focusing on examinations such as GCSEs, A-levels, National 5s, Scottish Highers and so on.

If your child is in one of these phases or will have started in it before you move, then you may be eligible to retain your army home for education reasons. This will impact the whole family so needs to be understood carefully and retention timelines need to be followed. Find out more at or contact

If your child is not in a critical year group and you can easily identify the council area you’re moving to, then search for their website and find the section about schools and admissions. This will let you know what you need to do when applying for school places, whether you need to contact schools directly or apply via the local authority.

You will also find the timeline for

applying. Most areas let you apply in the six weeks/half term in advance of when you need the school place but each area has its own guidance.


If this is the case, your first discussion needs to be with the Overseas Education and Supportability Team (OEST). They can let you know about the education in the country you are moving to, possible implications of a move on your child’s education and how the process works when moving to a new country.

All children up to the age of 18, including those not in school yet, need to have a Defence Children Services (DCS) Confirmation of Supportability before moving overseas. This can take quite a while, especially if your child has additional needs to consider.

Getting in touch with the OEST immediately can mean that the process is understood and enables your family to make informed decisions about your children and their schooling


When you have a confirmed posting and date for the move, check to see if you are within the application window for places and, if so, start applying. It’s better

to apply to a few schools in case your first choice is full.

Local authorities have strict guidance on when they will help with transport costs to schools so if this is something that you need to consider, it would be a good idea to contact the local authority and find out what you might be able to get support with and which, if any, schools you might be able to access transport for.

Think carefully about the ages of your children, especially if they are in or are about to enter a critical stage of their education.


To appeal an unsuccessful school place allocation, you must have applied and have an official rejection.

If this is a school you still want or need to consider, ensure you follow the proper processes for applying and then follow the local authority guidance on making an appeal. If this is an avenue you need to pursue, you should contact the UK Education Advisory Team (UK EAT) as they are an impartial advice service and will be able to explain the appeal process A

Grants go a long way

The Armed Forces Education Trust was established more than 100 years ago and provides financial grants to service children and young people in education. We spoke to Chief Executive, Charmian Hickman, to find out more…

“Balancing the education needs of your children while negotiating postings and deployments can be tricky at the best of times but when these coincide with key exams this can be even harder to manage,” says Charmian.


“Our aim is to help service children overcome any disadvantage to their education resulting from their parent’s service. We understand the challenges that arise with children’s education through having a parent or carer in the armed forces.

“We are passionate about ensuring that no child or young person should be disadvantaged due to their parent’s service.”

The trust first started supporting service children in the 1850s, in a home for the orphans of soldiers in London. It has since grown into a grant-making trust, supporting the children of service personnel and awards more than £400,000 annually.

“As well as helping with boarding fees, at times where there is clearly a need for the child to be at a boarding school and there are no viable alternatives, we also help children in state day schools,” adds Charmian.

“This can be a grant to the school to support a group of service children, for example to help with transition in or out of the school, or with addressing gaps in education, or to individuals.”


One family was pleased to receive a grant to enable sixth-former Abby to stay at the same school and study for her A-levels. “We finally got a place at a special school for our disabled son and then my husband was posted. Thanks to Continuity of Education Allowance (CEA), our daughter had been boarding for a while but our decision to stay in one place meant that CEA ceased.

“A grant from the trust meant that Abby could stay at her school and not move halfway through her A-levels. We so appreciate what an amazing benefit this will be to her future.”

Another family received one-to-one support for their son: “We moved so many times in the first few years of our son’s life. It’s not surprising that no one picked up on his educational needs. When his new school did, the trust gave a grant to the school so that Ben could have some one-to-one support while they put together evidence for an Education and Health and Care Plan and got funding to support him.”

Find out more about how to apply for a grant at A


In England families have been able to claim 15 to 30 hours of funded childcare for their three to four-yearolds for some time. All children were eligible for 15 hours at the age of three and for eligible working families this increased to 30 hours until the child started school.

Changes to the offer are now in the process of being rolled out. In April the offer was extended for eligible working families to access 15 hours of funded childcare for their two-year-olds. From September this will be extended to include 15 funded hours for nine to 23-month-old children within eligible working families.

By September 2025 all children from eligible working families between the ages of nine months and school age will be able to claim up to 30 funded hours of childcare.

Each part of the UK has a slightly different childcare offer available as childcare is the responsibility of each nation.

In 2021 Scotland expanded its offer for all families, who can now claim up to 1,140 hours a year for their three- and four-year-old children. This works out at approximately 30 hours a week if taken during term time. Each local authority area has its own process for applying so it is best to check your local website to see when and how to apply to ensure you don’t miss out.

Wales also offers working families up to 30 hours of early years care, split between childcare and early education. In Wales both partners must be working but this can include those studying for an undergraduate or postgraduate qualification or enrolled on a further education course that will last 10 weeks or longer.

To find out what you might be entitled to, we recommend looking at Childcare Choices, a website which lets you know what’s available to you based on where you are in the UK and the age of your children.

Charmian Hickman

The school that goes wherever you go

When academic excellence goes online

Life as a military family comes with duties that can take you across the world. However, performing your duties does not have to mean disrupting your child’s education.

With King’s InterHigh, your child will receive an online education that comes with 50 years of academic excellence. Whether Primary, Secondary or Sixth form education, all lessons will be conducted by fully UK and Internationally qualified and experienced teachers.

Making lessons come alive with technology

Online lessons do not have to be a dull experience. With a sophisticated cloud-based learning platform, your child will be able to interact with their classmates through chats, polls, quizzes, and virtual simulations. Beyond that, King’s InterHigh uses Augmented Reality (AR) technology to make each lesson an immersive experience.

King’s InterHigh is also the first school to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) online. Thanks to the extensive research, testing and curation

done by King’s InterHigh, your child will be able to complete the programme using virtual reality, to really bring subjects to life.

Designed for flexibility

The demands of a military family can mean that your child needs an education that is just as ‘on the move’ as you are.

Here are the ways that King’s InterHigh’s online lessons have been set up to cater to these changing needs and locations.

1. Choose your time zone

With a focus on the British Curriculum, our live and interactive lessons are taught across three time zones (GMT/BST, GMT+4, GMT+7).

2. Never miss a lesson

With each lesson being recorded and accessible 24/7, your child can learn at their own pace and timing.

3. Personalised for every unique need

All lessons are designed to support students of all learning abilities — including young people with special educational needs and disabilities

(SEND). Our teachers are trained in SEND so they will know when a child needs more support and how best to cater to their needs both during lessons and with the online dashboards.

4. It’s in the results

As part of the Inspired Education Group, over 91% of students get into their first-choice university. This is made even more inspiring with almost 60% of A-level students achieving A and A* grades. Additionally, 1 in 3 graduates attend Russell Group or Ivy League universities.

Always learning, always with the family

Growing up in a military family means your child faces unique challenges unlike other children. However, frequent relocations don’t have to mean frequent educational disruptions and changes. With King’s InterHigh’s online learning model, your child will always have academic continuity and, just as important, they can keep the friendships they have formed.

These friendships will also grow with their opportunities for real-life interactions. As part of the world’s leading education group, your child’s growth will be complemented with virtual events and clubs, in-person school trips and opportunities to go to summer camps at over 110 premium Inspired international schools across five continents.

You can find out more about King’s InterHigh at

Hear from our King’s InterHigh students:

“The flexible and online nature of InterHigh meant that Ben was able to cover the course content suitable for his age group from home, but most importantly, he was still able to surf.” This approach not only supported Ben’s athletic endeavours but also provided crucial support for his sister Lilly, who has dyslexia, allowing her to thrive academically. For Iona, maintaining family cohesion amidst their adventurous lifestyle was paramount. She encourages parents facing similar challenges to consider alternative learning options like King’s InterHigh for a happier and more fulfilling educational experience that keeps the family connected. Iona Larg, King’s InterHigh Parent

“We moved our child to King’s InterHigh after a horrendous experience in mainstream provision where his autistic, sensory and mental health needs were not met. Since joining King’s InterHigh, our child’s school-based anxieties and barriers to learning have greatly reduced and he is engaging really well with lessons and his love of learning is returning. It’s both a pleasure to see and a huge relief to us as parents.” Louise H. King’s InterHigh Parent

“After many years of fighting for a suitable education for our daughter we were finally in a position to be able to try Kings InterHigh school and my only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner. She is so much happier here and she is finally enjoying and engaging in her lessons. Our daughter has SEN and this is without a doubt the best thing for her.” Shelley L. King’s InterHigh Parent



ST Edmund’s College and Prep School quickly becomes a ‘home from home’ for its students.

Set amongst 400 acres of rolling Hertfordshire countryside, the School sits midway between central London and Cambridge, just off the connecting A10. Both Ware and Hertford Stations are on the doorstep, and there are three major airports within an hour’s drive (Stansted 25 minutes, Luton 30 minutes and Heathrow about an hour away). Being just 15 minutes from the northernmost part of the M25 means that central London is, by car or by train, less than an hour away.

We asked Forces friendly schools and colleges to ‘sell’ their surrounds to prospective pupils and parents

St Edmund’s enjoys an attractive balance of the traditional and the modern. Its beautiful Grade I Listed Chapel sits alongside boarding facilities that are relaxed and well-appointed. Teaching facilities are outstanding and recent inspections have reflected that its teaching and learning standards are of the very highest quality.

The experienced boarding team leads a balanced and engaging programme of cultural and social events, including theatre and cinema visits, bespoke small group activities (such as fishing or golf trips), and visits to local areas of interest such as London and Cambridge.

Set alongside a co-curricular programme that features up to 200 different activities for

students to try, enjoy and engage with, the opportunity to develop academic, professional or social skills is never far away.

St Edmund’s has a highly reputed and long-standing Combined Cadet Force (both Army and RAF functions are available) that has its own base and indoor shooting range on site.

Boarders are welcomed to the College from Year 7 right through to the Sixth Form.

With a strong focus on leadership, service and values throughout their education, you’ll recognise a St Edmund’s pupil whenever you meet one.

Open Days and private tours are available on request: call 01920 824247 or visit for further details.


CHAFYN Grove School in Wiltshire is incredibly spoilt when it comes to location – based in the striking medieval city of Salisbury, it is 20 miles from the south coast and around 90 minutes by direct train to London Waterloo and England’s vibrant capital.

Chafyn’s 200 pupils regularly get to enjoy trips out to famous landmarks such as Stonehenge and Old Sarum and to roam in the New Forest, which is a mere 15-minute drive away.

When the boys and girls are not offsite, they are fortunate to have a fantastic and comprehensive range of facilities on offer including: a superb two-storey sports hall; a 25m four-lane outdoor, heated swimming pool; two all-weather AstroTurf pitches; tennis and netball courts; a cricket ground; football and rugby pitch; two squash courts and a climbing wall.

Chafyn Grove has recently announced it will be extending its provision from age 13 (Year 8) up to age 16 (Year 11). The first cohort will progress into Year 9 in September 2026 and move through the school to become Chafyn’s first Year 11 students,

taking their GCSEs in 2028.

Chafyn Grove’s spacious site and first-class facilities already provide excellent age-appropriate spaces and additional facilities and areas will also be developed over the years ahead.


MILLFIELD Prep School is located in the historic market town of Glastonbury, nestled beneath the iconic Glastonbury Tor. The co-educational boarding school for ages 2-13 is set in over 200 acres of Somerset countryside, with access to outstanding onsite facilities including an equestrian centre, 25 metre swimming pool, golf courses, science centre, music halls and numerous sports pitches.

The school is a short, sevenminute drive away from Millfield’s campus which share its facilities with Millfield Prep pupils.

Millfield’s campus offers a further 250 acres of Somerset countryside for pupils to benefit from and enjoy, as well as an Olympic-sized swimming pool, Art Gallery, Music School and 400-seat theatre.

Boarding starts from age 7 and the school is currently home to 114 full boarders from over 31 different countries. Boarders

live with pupils from all over the world in five houses, situated on or within a few minutes’ walk of campus. Full boarders enjoy an evening and weekend programme packed full of exciting activities such as trips to Westonsuper-Mare beach, the cinema, international sports fixtures in Bristol and Bath, bowling, Go Ape, baking and craft nights.

Of a summer’s evening, a whole house walk up Glastonbury Tor with views stretching across the Somerset Levels and beyond is a firm favourite.

Millfield Prep is ideally located

one hour from the vibrant cities of Bath and Bristol, and 1 hour 45 minutes from London (Castle Cary to Paddington Station).

The onsite travel office provides a coach, minibus or taxi transfer to London or regional airports, at the start and end of terms and on exeat weekends.

Visit Millfield Prep School’s Somerset campus at their next Open Day on Saturday 5 October, or contact prepadmissions@ to arrange a personal tour.


SET in 50 acres of Surrey parkland, Gordon’s School’s beautiful grounds are just 20 minutes’ drive from London, conveniently located within easy reach of both Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, and within ten minutes of rail services.

The school’s location means that students are within a short distance of the National Shooting Centre in Bisley for competitions and the countryside for walks, runs and cycle rides. And with the M3 just minutes away, there is easy access for trips, visits and competitions further afield.

The school operates a tri-service CCF, compulsory for all students in Year 10. Many of the weekly CCF afternoons are held on site whether on the flight simulators for the RAF; shooting range or using the fields and woods for navigation and command tasks. Every term each of the Services holds a field day. These might take place with the Royal Engineers at Gibraltar Barracks; in Portsmouth with the Royal Navy or an RAF Station, all within easy reach.

There is also ease of access for Dartmoor for the Ten Tors, the Surrey Hills and Wales for the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme expeditions, and London’s theatres, music venues and art galleries for creative arts students.

The school’s location also works well for its partnerships with Harlequins in South West London, Netball Super league team Surrey Storm in Guildford and National Vanarama League side Aldershot Town FC.

Gordon’s has many nearby primary schools so, as part of their volunteering outreach work, students visit them, helping with sports days, reading, science and music. Student Art Ambassadors also take their passion into the local community, running art workshops with primary schoolchildren and adults with learning disabilities.

Every summer sees families in the community turn up to school with picnic blankets and chairs

for Summers Arts, a celebration of the school’s Creative Arts Department featuring dance, music and art and the West End Christmas Fayre is always hosted by Gordon’s.

The school’s iconic Pipes and Drums Band, the heartbeat to the school since its inception in 1885, provides pipers for Remembrance Services across the locality as well as further afield in Ypres and the Brookwood Military Cemetery.

With almost 300 residential boarders at the school, it is ideally placed for weekend entertainment, be it ice skating at Hampton Court Palace, shopping at nearby Woking or Guildford or water sports at Thorpe Park.


CHILDHOOD years should be precious. And don’t we know just how much the essence of that truism is at risk these days? A sense of place and rootedness are of course particularly important for the children of Forces families, writes headmaster Tim Butcher

The precise location and immediate surroundings of a school may, however, only come into consideration for the most practical of reasons and perhaps not because they add to the preciousness of that childhood experience. And yet they really can, and should. With the degree of flexibility that boarding affords,

Forces parents can potentially give more weight than most to choosing a school based on the fact that its particular location and local environment will hugely enhance the experience of being a pupil there.

At The Pilgrims’ School, here in Winchester, we feel that our location is practically an educational resource in itself, and it gives the school a uniquely special atmosphere and spirit. As an ex-Forces child who boarded at Pilgrims’ myself, I can personally attest to the magical way in which the school’s location was central to my sense of belonging within the boarding family.

Nestled between the Cathedral and the College, our acres of playing fields sit within the


while our boys frequently head to the adjacent water meadows, perhaps for some fly fishing or rowing. A mixture of medieval and modern, our buildings mirror a central part of our ethos: developing a sense of our heritage, our past, to inform a progressive journey into the future; while services and ceremonies such as Remembrance hosted by our neighbours, the Cathedral and College, mean our boys also develop a sense of occasion.

And so the maxim ‘location, location, location’ is proven once more. Phil and Kirsty would be pleased…

ancient bailey wall of Wolvesey Castle, hosting scores


THE Duke of York’s Royal Military School, founded in 1803, is set in over 150 acres of picturesque Kentish countryside, atop the iconic White Cliffs of Dover. Offering high-quality education and pastoral care for students aged 11 to 18, the school is a home-fromhome environment to over 200 students from Forces families.

Its enviable location not only offers stunning natural surroundings but also places the school within walking distance of the historic Dover Castle, providing a unique blend of

natural beauty and cultural heritage.

The school is recognised for its strong academic focus, having received two SSAT Educational Outcomes Awards. Its regularly updated curriculum offers a wide range of GCSE, A Level, and BTEC options, with graduates often progressing to top universities, including Russell Group.

Boarding life and personal development are nurtured by experienced houseparents. The vibrant community ensures that all 500 students engage in weekend activities and trips, fostering strong, life-long friendships.

On-site, students have access to

an indoor heated swimming pool, fitness suite, AstroTurf pitches, tennis courts, athletics track, squash courts, band hall, dance studio, and drama studio to name a few.

The school’s position ensures excellent connectivity. Major road links make it easily accessible, while the nearby Dover ferry port offers crossings to Calais and Dunkirk, facilitating easy travel for those serving in mainland Europe. The proximity to the Eurotunnel and Eurostar stations makes international travel convenient. Additionally, the high-speed rail route to London St Pancras brings the

capital within an hour’s journey. The school is also implementing Garrison transport links from September 2024, at selected school holidays, for serving families.

Living and studying at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School means becoming part of a community that benefits from both serene natural beauty, pastoral excellence, and great transport links. This unique combination ensures students can thrive in a supportive environment, while staying connected to broader cultural and educational opportunities.


CHOOSING the right boarding prep school is a crucial decision for any family, but for military parents, it carries even more weight. The unique lifestyle of military families, with frequent relocations and the demands of service, necessitates a stable, nurturing and flexible educational environment for their children. This is where the location of a boarding prep school becomes paramount. Sandroyd School, nestled in the heart of the picturesque Wiltshire countryside, exemplifies the perfect setting for military families seeking a home away from home for their children.

One of the foremost considerations for military parents is the school’s proximity to key military bases. Sandroyd is ideally located within easy reach of several military establishments, including Salisbury Plain, a pivotal location for the British

Army. This proximity ensures that parents can visit their children with minimal travel time when stationed locally, providing peace of mind and maintaining family bonds despite the demands of military duty. The transient nature of military life often means that children need a stable environment to thrive. Sandroyd offers a consistent and supportive community, allowing children to build lasting friendships and continuity in their education. The school’s flexible boarding options, including flexi and full

boarding, cater specifically to the needs of military families, ensuring that each child can find a rhythm that suits their family’s lifestyle.

At Sandroyd, pastoral care is a cornerstone of the school’s ethos. Understanding the unique challenges faced by military children, the school has developed a robust support system to ensure every child feels secure, valued, and understood. From personal tutors to houseparents, the dedicated pastoral team is always

on hand to offer guidance and support, creating a nurturing environment that mirrors the warmth and security of home. Military parents often seek schools that provide not only academic excellence but also opportunities for a well-rounded individual. Sandroyd excels in both areas. The school offers a rigorous academic curriculum complemented by a rich array of extracurricular activities, including performing arts, and sports. This holistic approach ensures that children develop the skills, confidence, and resilience needed to excel in all areas of life.

The sense of community at Sandroyd is palpable from the moment you enter the school grounds. For military families, who often face extended periods of separation, this strong community support network is invaluable. The school’s values of respect, integrity, and compassion resonate deeply with military families, aligning perfectly with the principles instilled in service life. For military parents deployed abroad, staying connected with their child’s education is crucial. Regular updates, parent-teacher meetings (virtual if required), and a parent portal ensure that military parents can remain engaged with their child’s school life, regardless of their location.

Choosing a boarding prep school is a significant decision, especially for military families who need stability and support amidst their unique lifestyle challenges. Sandroyd, with its prime location, exceptional pastoral care, and commitment to a well-rounded education, stands out as an ideal choice. Here, military children not only receive a top-tier education but also find a second home where they can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally. For military parents seeking the best for their children, Sandroyd truly offers the perfect blend!

Image: Millie Pilkington
Image: Millie Pilkington


MOORLAND School has welcomed children from the military community for more than ten years, providing children with much needed stability and a familiar learning environment. Our school is a small, family co-educational CEA approved establishment. The environment

we create at Moorland provides a nurtured, safe space where your child can feel at home.

A Moorland education provides exceptional teaching and pastoral care for all students, including our military dependent children who have families based all over the world.  This high level of care is something Moorland prides itself upon.  We understand the needs of your children, especially when they are far away from family

and friends, and our warm and friendly team of boarding staff and excellent Junior and Senior School staff are here to provide support to both children and families. With dedicated military liaison staff, we are able to work with Army Welfare Services to understand the needs of your family and help with the process and eligibility of CEA Funding applications.



I left the RAF 12 years ago when my eldest son Oliver was two and a half as my partner and I were both serving and knew that our luck with co-location was about to come to an end. This was a new chapter for us with me focusing on being a full-time mum and supporting my army husband in his career.

This gave us the flexibility to welcome two more children, Charlie and Emily, into our lives and to move around with the military.

With Oliver now at boarding school, our keenness to demonstrate mobility came at the cost of our two younger children frequently leaving friends, clubs, stability and familiarity. I spend most of my days going around and around in my head trying to work out the best possible solution for our next posting, which invariably means prioritising the happiness of one child


over the other, which fills me with guilt and uncertainty.

With the cost of living ever-increasing, I also needed to decide whether to attempt to embark on a meaningful career but every time I contemplated a ‘real job’ I was hit with the seemingly insurmountable hurdles – my husband’s career always came first and I just couldn’t see a way to make the two things work without halfcommitting to a job.

Instead, I bought our cocker spaniel, Skye, to keep me company during the day and purchased a craft business ‘HomeIs’ from another military spouse creating personalised wall plaques in the shape of houses.

Two years on and I’m so proud of its success but with Facebook as my key marketing tool, I am keen to attract those not on the platform.

a small world

I had always been interested in miniatures and doll’s houses and started my hobby in 2020 when I saw a French-style doll’s house online. I messaged the lady who posted the picture and she made me my first custom French chateau doll’s house. I then began to start furnishing it and filling it with miniatures.

I usually buy the miniatures in kit form and paint and decorate them in my favourite style – French baroque.

I take inspiration from antique and Renaissance pieces displayed in museums, on Instagram and also a visit to Paris gave me lots of ideas.

I love the architecture of French buildings and I once made a key holder with the front as a façade of a French building complete with an oeil-de-boeuf window.

If there is something that I cannot find that I want for my houses I make it myself

using materials such as wood, clay and card. I have made lots of things including an armoire, wall panels, miniature food and coffered ceilings.

I have several houses that I display in my home, including a French patisserie and a room box which I made into a pub, named the Plump Pug. I also have several animals displayed inside the

I feel so much joy when I get an order for a ‘forever home,’ ‘new baby/pet’ or ‘end of a career’ and weirdly feel a share in their accomplishment, privileged that they have shared their journey with me.

It’s fascinating to see all the weird and wonderful locations the military sends us to. I often find myself Googling places that I have never heard of!

Every new block has its own tale to tell of unique memories and experiences and every house or cottage is the start of someone’s incredible life journey.

With a degree in English and philosophy, I never thought my underachieving art A-level would be the one that would be the tool for my employment but c’est la vie! Find out more at A

doll’s houses, which include two pugs (modelled on my own pugs), a Siamese cat and a chihuahua.

My latest project included completely renovating an old doll’s house, which took me about 18 months. This included completely re-wiring the electrics and decorating it to a high standard.

I have built a large following on Instagram and the community is very supportive. I regularly go to miniature fairs and shows and meet up with fellow miniaturists.

My work colleagues at the Defence Serious Crime Unit are amazed by my hobby and are always intrigued by how I do it.

It’s an escape from everyday life and I enjoy spending time visualising how I want a certain piece to look and then seeing the end result. It fits into military life in my spare time, usually doing bits after work or at weekends.

See more of Jennifer’s work at world A

Moving house is famously stressful, but add in a military relocation, and you’ve got a summer shambles.

I remember those summers filled with farewells to cherished friends and colleagues you’d worked hard to build a reputation with, whilst trying to secure schools for the kids, miles away. It’s a whirlwind of chaos, heartache and cardboard boxes.

The pre-march out inspections –hiding the burns on the carpet from the time you left your straighteners on while you calmed the kids and briefed the


babysitter in your ball gown while the minibus was waiting outside containing half the regiment to take you to a mess dinner (no pressure).

Then there’s the actual move day, with strangers rummaging through your life. Kids and pets running riot and the long drive across the country to find the new and exciting patch. Arriving at the new house with all eyes on you, expecting you to know where things go, like you have been there before.

You’re exhausted and masking the uncertainty of a fresh start, with new neighbours popping in to check you out – while you feel at your worst!

It’s taken me many years, many moves and many meltdowns to realise that you need to look after yourself during all of this, and I am a trained nurse and life coach so you’d think I’d have twigged sooner!

Amidst the chaos, self-care is key. It’s okay to pause, breathe and prioritise your own well-being. Eat well, drink water, your body will thank you for it!

Putting down roots

Being a military wife and mum hasn’t been easy and having no stable support system or ‘village’ around you can make childcare and having your own career quite difficult.

I find I end up taking any job in the first year of moving just so I can have some form of money coming in, and then by the second year I find a better suited job and, just as I’m settling in to work and trying to make a way for myself, it’s time to move again!

Our latest posting has started much the same and we have been here in Newcastle just over two years and we are due posting in December. But this time is different as I have recently become self-employed and bought a franchise running baby and toddler classes.

I love what I do and with my little girl now in school I can do the school run every day and not be so reliant on childcare.

Make a list of five things you love to do and do them, even if it means a long soak in your ‘beautiful new bathroom’, even if you haven’t unpacked the candles yet.

We all know that military spouses are the unsung heroes in the military move. Planning, navigating, organising and supporting each move with grace and resilience. So, amidst the unpacking and settling in, take a moment to reflect on your journey and embrace the growth it brings to you. Yes, it’s tough, but you’ve done it before, and you’ll do it again. Each move brings opportunities for decluttering, self-reflection and new beginnings.

So, to all the amazing military spouses out there, you shape shifter, project manager, co-ordinator, family supporter, doer of all the things – take a well-deserved break before the next adventure begins.

Find Sam on Insta @sam_darlington_lifecoach or A

The intention was to be able to set up classes at any new posting but after running my business for the past seven months and seeing how much time and energy it takes to establish a small business, I quickly realised our constant moving around just wouldn’t work in reality. So we are putting down roots and buying a home. With my little girl settled in school and with my business going from strength to strength, and actually starting to have friends and a social life, it’s hopefully going to be the best decision.

I’m not sure what family life will look like for us going forward and where my husband will be posted next – we are hoping Catterick and he could commute or come back at weekends. It’s not ideal as of course we want to stay together as a family but after almost nine years and three

moves, I just can’t face the upheaval of another military posting.

I am incredibly proud of my husband and his career and have always supported and followed him to where his job takes him. But what people don’t see is that as the military spouse our dreams and careers will always be put on hold or be affected by the transient lifestyle. My stalled career progression and lack of stable income has been a bitter pill to swallow at times. But this feels like it’s finally time to put my dreams first and build something for myself whilst creating a stable environment for my daughter.

Find Geri on Insta

@theplaygroupnewcastle A





Courageous Creatures, written by Lance Corporal Elliot Reynolds, tells the story of five woodland creatures who are united by having family members serving in different branches of the armed forces. These friends embody resilience and courage despite the absence of their loved ones due to deployment.

The heartwarming tale, set in Braveheart Woods, celebrates their unwavering spirit while fostering important conversations about mental health and coping strategies.

Aimed at preparing young children for the deployment of a loved one, Courageous Creatures offers a narrative filled with understanding, support and the affirming power of community and love.

Young readers can relate to and speak about the ways the deployment of a loved one makes them feel and how to process those feelings.

We have two copies of the book to be won – just scan the QR code to enter. The closing date is 16 August 2024.

Readers can claim 20 per cent off at courageouscreatures. by using the code deployment


Kings Camps, part of not-for-profit Kings Active Foundation, has been operating sports and activity camps for children since 1991, and we’re delighted that they are partnering with Annington and the British Army again this year to offer sports and activity camps to serving families. Their mission is to get children active, having fun and learning together by providing screen-free activities.

The sports and activity camps are designed for ages 5-17, and offer age-specific programmes. The Multi Active programme for 5-14s offers a week of more than 30 sports and active games, age tailored to each group. A typical

summer camp day includes the sports and activity sessions, time to socialise and team challenges.

Rookie Academy for 15-17s allows teens to enjoy sports and activities, and develop leadership skills. Rookie Academy builds confidence, is a place to make friends and is a great start for a career in sports coaching or working with children.

Annington has subsidised the cost of the places to £90 for serving army personnel at bases across the UK and Europe. A full list of the venues can be found at

All the camps in England are registered with Ofsted. To book places or for more details visit or call 0114 263 2160.


Grease was the word at St John’s School in Cyprus in their latest stage production. Students at the MOD secondary school brought the house down when they played to a packed 400-seat theatre for three nights in a row. The show was the culmination of months of rehearsals and was the second big production staged by the school after a 13-year gap.

Theatregoers attending described the three performances as “amazing” and “brilliant” and applauded the “super talented” cast.

Headteacher Colin Guyton praised all who were involved, highlighting how the cast epitomised the school’s value of commitment, describing them as “truly exceptional”. He went on to thank them, the directors and more than 50 volunteers associated with the show.


James, four, is a seasoned air traveller but was captivated by the passenger cabin of an historic Comet airliner when he and his dad, a weapons engineer, spent an afternoon at IWM Duxford.

The carefully laid dining table, complete with a lace tablecloth, harking back to a more exclusive age of air travel, fascinated him just as much as the huge B-52 Stratofortress or even the fastest ever Concorde, which still carries its testing equipment.

Screened next to the Lancaster bomber, wartime film footage of the famous bouncing bomb being tested also caught his eye. In fact when he went home and told his mum about it he explained – using his arms to demonstrate – how it was spinning before it hit the water.

The museum near Cambridge is home to an extensive range of historic aircraft and military equipment. Many are housed in two huge hangars – AirSpace and the American Air Museum, others in buildings that were in use when the airfield was a Battle of Britain fighter base.

In the land warfare building

there is a fascinating walk through the battlefields of the First World War through to more recent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Uniformed mannequins dotted around the darkened displays were a little intimidating for James.

He’d been interested through the entire visit, with just the occasional reassurance that he could have a souvenir and an ice cream at the end if he was good. So the last stop was the gift shop and there was plenty of choice.

It’s a big site and there’s a lot to see, so make sure you allow plenty of time for rests and snack breaks. Work has also started on a huge new, inclusive play area outside the Armoury Café.

Visit for ticket and opening information, family activity weekends, flying display details and an accessibility guide.


The National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire has launched its new, free Stick Man trail for families. The permanent trail features five carved and colourful wooden characters, that complement the visitor attraction’s popular existing Stick Man sculpture.

Inspired by Julia Donaldson’s classic children’s tale, the new milelong trail follows the adventures of Stick Man as he tries to get home to his Family Tree, with younger visitors encouraged to complete activities exploring wildlife, nature, and the stories they encounter along the route.

“Our original Stick Man trail has proven to be a huge family favourite, with thousands of visitors exploring the route since it opened in 2019,” explains Rachel Smith of the National Memorial Arboretum. “This new trail is longer and more interactive, featuring stunning woodcarvings that will really capture the imagination of our visitors.”

Those exploring the new trail can pick up a free, self-led trail sheet upon arrival at the arboretum by visiting the welcome desk.

The arboretum features two outdoor play areas, a picnic area, restaurant and coffee shop. Book your visit in advance at

Images: National Memorial Arboretum
James in the AirSpace hangar
One of the Land Warfare Building exhibits, a truck called Helen
One of General Montgomery’s campaign caravans
James is fascinated by the dining table in the Comet
The nose of Memphis Belle star B-17 Sally B
James tries a mock-up Fighter cockpit for size

Giveaways Wonder of waterways

Click the giveaways tab at

Entries close on 16 August 2024.

Experience the joys of a break spent exploring Britain’s beautiful canals with Anglo Welsh, the narrowboat holiday company.

From peaceful rural retreats to vibrant waterside city centres, Anglo Welsh offers the choice of hundreds of destinations from 10 bases across England and Wales.

Moor up in the centre of exciting towns and cities like Stratford-uponAvon, Chester or Oxford. Or visit iconic sites like the UNESCO World Heritage Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in North Wales or the Anderton Boat Lift in Cheshire.

Terms & conditions

You don’t need to be an expert, tuition is provided as part of the package and Anglo Welsh’s holidays are child and pet-friendly too.

Service personnel can claim up to 15 per cent off, visit or call 0117 304 1122 to book.

You could win a short break aboard a Weir Class narrowboat for up to four people, worth up to £1,140

Prize is open to serving regular or reserve families only. Short breaks can be weekend (3 nights) or midweek (4 nights). The Weir Class narrowboat can be booked from Anglo Welsh’s Trevor, Great Haywood, Bunbury, Oxford, Wootton Wawen or Whixall bases only, and must be from price band B. The holiday can be taken any time in 2024, subject to availability. For more information see No other discounts or offers can run in conjunction. A winner wishing to book a bigger or more luxurious boat can top up at their own expense. Up to one pet, fuel and a compulsory £50 nonrefundable damage waiver are included, but no other expenses are included.

Antler art

Army spouse and self-taught artist Jen Mackenzie began making striking antler wall art during a posting to Inverness in 2010.

Now in their own home, Jen’s Highland business Antler Art, is run from the garden workshop.

She describes her work as “a jumble of decoupage, sculpture, painting, and a hefty dollop of flair!”.

Previous collections include Liberty of London fabric designs and House of Hackney wallpaper.

Find out more at A&Y readers can claim a 15 per cent discount (enter FORCES15 at the checkout or quote if ordering a bespoke piece).

One reader will win a £125 gift voucher

All things pretty

Having juggled the challenges of numerous house moves and an assortment of jobs, military spouse Pip Sharp decided to set up her own business, Boxes and Bows with EzBez.

Pip said: “My daughter and I started making hair bows as a hobby. We asked friends what they thought about us selling them – they were very encouraging, so we set up a Facebook group and sold our bespoke hair bows at the request of our customers. Follow us on social media.”

One reader will win a strawberry duo – soap and shower gel, and a paint splatter print medium hair bow. @boxesandbowswithezbez

Leadership insight

War and Peace: The Life and Times of General Sir Richard Barrons offers a glimpse into the life of a four-star general whose service spanned nearly four decades, covering major global conflicts and the evolving nature of warfare.

Barrons reflects on experiences from Germany, the Cold War era, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Northern Ireland, and pivotal roles within the Ministry of Defence.

Through his vivid recounting, Barrons reveals the profound challenges and ethical dilemmas faced by those in command, offering a nuanced perspective on the responsibilities and burdens of leadership.

It’s a must-read for those interested in military history, leadership, and the ever-changing landscape of global security.

Five readers can each win a copy worth £25

Book Club

Army & You and Reading Force Book Club, have fun sharing books!

Magic and monsters

In this edition’s Army&You and Reading Force Book Club, service children tell us what they thought of The Magic of Me by Ben Cort.


WE LOVED the illustrations, especially the page with all the little monsters eating a feast. The book made us happy and we enjoyed reading it with Mummy and Daddy. Daddy works away a lot and we like reading with him when he is home.


HARPER SAID: “The book was very nice and I like the drawings. The dragon and the tiger are my favourites.”

THE MAGIC of Me is a great book about all the wonderful things to consider in our world. We loved the illustrations and having to turn the book around and really interact with the story. The pages are colourful and we loved to read all the words in different fonts. Reading this book made us discuss fears, things we love and have a real giggle about funny monsters. We then drew monsters that we think live inside us. A fab book that can be read over and over!

HARPER’S MUM said: “I thought the book was illustrated beautifully and had some lovely takeaway moments about being aware of who you are and all the amazing things your imagination can do.”


READING FORCE is the free shared reading initiative for forces families where you can share a book and talk about it, together at home or via video call if separated. 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. Teens receive a special journal. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE, or register online at



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