Army&You Winter 2013

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Army &You WINTER 2013


{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

WELLBEING WITH WORDS How picking up a pen helped one Army wife

UNITED FRONT Advice from across the pond on coping with longer deployments


RED CARPET TREATMENT New housing contract to make a difference to your Service home



JUST THE JOB Employment expert shares exclusive CV writing hints!

What YOU need to know about going steady in the Service



GIVE THEM A TOP-UP You can top-up the WelComE account of entitled UK Service personnel from the comfort of your home.

WelComE Customer Contact Centre

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For more details visit


One Army, one family


N THIS edition of your magazine we recognise the wider Army family with a range of inspiring stories; the unmarried partners of soldiers who don’t always have access to the military environment, the Service mum who made it through her son’s deployment thanks to the support of a Military Wives Choir and the stay-at-home dad whose wife is a deployed medic. We learn about the support available when your soldier deploys from Cyprus; from across the pond three American Army spouses share their experience of family life during nine month operational tours and Hannah Evans, Service spouse and author, takes a humorous and honest look at her soldier’s deployment as the

Mother Of (three) Boys: the MOB. We pass on how AFF plans to support Army Reserve families and also show you how your enquiry helps us build a bigger picture of evidence – so do keep contacting AFF with your concerns at And if you fancy a treat, do enter our competitions dotted among the pages – including a fabulous two-night break in the capital plus some spending money! Also, don’t forget to check the latest news on our website, The Army&You team would like to wish all our readers a Happy Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year.

Charlotte Eadie, Editor

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie

DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd AFF, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 7, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ Tel: 01264 382314 © All MOD British Crown Copyright images are courtesy of Defence News Imagery


We love to hear from you. If you’ve got a story you would like to share about Army life, do let us know – email deped@aff.

DISTRIBUTION Are you getting it four times a year? A free copy of Army&You should reach every Army family every season. It’s posted to all UK SFA and is sent overseas via BFPO. If you are not receiving your copy, contact your local AFF Co-ordinator or call the AFF Distribution Team on 01264 382313 or Andover Mil 2313. Email

PUBLISHER Army&You is published quarterly by TylerBale Communications on behalf of the Army Families Federation. Editorial content and illustrations © Army Families Federation. Not to be reproduced without permission from the Editor.

ADVERTISEMENTS For information about advertising in Army&You, contact: TylerBale, Clockhouse, Dogflud Way, Farnham, Surrey GU9 7UD Email: Tel: 01252 714870

COMPETITIONS To enter, click the Reader Giveaways tab at and follow the links, or send a postcard to Army&You, IDL 414, Ramillies Building, Floor 1, Zone 7, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ. Include your name, address, telephone number and name of the giveaway. One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 17 January 2014. Winners’ names are published on the Army&You website at


SUBSCRIBE TO ARMY&YOU Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Far-flung overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Make sure you find out the latest news from the Army Families Federation by subscribing to Army&You for free! For more details, visit


winter 2013 Army&You 03




7 A WORD FROM... AFF Chief Executive Catherine Spencer looks at soldiers’ working hours

8 AFF IN ACTION How you can support AFF through volunteering

13 MOB RULE Blogger explains how writing helped her through her soldier’s deployment

15 TOP TIPS FOR PARENTS Army spouse and mum-of-four shares handy hints for raising children

18 UNITED FRONT Julie McCarthy explores the realities of nine-month deployments with US families



21 FORCES SWEETHEARTS Uncovering the facts about life as the partner of a serving soldier

25 WELLBEING WITH WORDS Writing workshops help the healing process for injured soldier’s wife

27 VOCAL SUPPORT Army mum sings the praises of the Military Wives Choir community


28 MAGIC CARPETS Why a new contract might mean the red carpet treament for Service families

33 PUT A CORK IN IT Understand units and count the calories with AFF’s alcohol awareness guide

34 SHOW STOPPER Exclusive interview with The Great British Bake Off star Beca Lyne-Pirkis

39 WRITE ON A&Y chats to employment expert Joanna Murchie about writing the perfect CV

43 REMOTE REWARDS How pursuing a distance-learning degree boosted a Service spouse’s career


ON THE COVER Army couple Tilly Lambert and Adam Lee embrace life in the Forces Picture: Graeme Main

64 POSTBAG Your views about every aspect of Service life

winter 2013 Army&You 05


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†Bupa’s HM Forces membership records Nov 2013. *Calls may be recorded and may be monitored. Calls from landlines to 0808 numbers are free, however, mobile phone providers may charge. Bupa health insurance is provided by Bupa Insurance Limited. Registered in England and Wales No. 3956433 Bupa Insurance Limited is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Arranged and administered by Bupa Insurance Services Limited, which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.Registered in England and Wales No. 3829851. Registered office: Bupa House, 15-19 Bloomsbury Way, London WC1A 2BA.



© Celia Manninga


Recruit the soldier, retain the family We are beginning to see long overdue improvements in the delivery of housing, healthcare and education for Forces families. There’s a long way to go but the Armed Forces Covenant, which aims to remove disadvantage from Service life, is beginning to open doors across Government to ensure that your unique needs are considered. AFF has significant input into the Covenant and we’re always keen to hear from you on any area where you think more could be done. We depend on your evidence to demonstrate where there are disadvantages and through our links with the Army chain of command, Government and service providers like DIO and MHS, we make sure your voice is heard. So keep telling us your concerns through our AFF Co-ordinators, and by visiting our website and completing our surveys at

I made a compelling and strong case for a pay rise for your soldier to the Armed Forces Pay Review Body in October, the results of which we’ll know more on in the New Year. I am all too aware that your soldier’s pay packet has reduced in real terms as a result of pay freezes/caps. This needs to be addressed if the Forces are to remain a competitive employer as the economy improves. The phrase “recruit the soldier, retain the family” may be overused but inability to spend meaningful family time combined with a drop in “real” pay must be addressed if families are to encourage our soldiers to remain serving.


I am concerned that current working hours are unsustainable

YOUR SOLDIER’S WORKING HOURS Thank you to all those families who responded to AFF’s annual survey, which this year focused on your soldier’s working hours. It paints a pretty bleak picture of Army life and I am concerned that current working hours are unsustainable. Whilst specific periods of intense activity are acceptable around deployment and exercise, the now normal working day for our soldiers gives no time to redress the balance of long absences and is not being rewarded by pay.

WORKING HOURS SURVEY 2013 Our recent survey showed the impact that defence cuts are having on family life. More than 2,500 of you responded and initial findings show that:

i 71% of you have seen an increase in your soldier’s hours in the last two years i 65% of soldiers didn’t manage to take all their leave entitlement last year i 19% of you have incurred extra childcare costs i 20% of you have needed extra help from family due to the increase i 14% of you have had to give up work due to your soldier’s hours increasing i 35% of soldiers are working on average 10 hours a day (not including commute) i 30% of you agree that your soldier does not have a good work/life balance Further details can be found at winter 2013 Army&You 07




BOOTS on the ground

AFF is looking for people to “be our boots on the ground” in an exciting new volunteer programme launching this January. Our aim is to have something to suit everyone and we are focusing on flexible roles with flexible hours. We know you have busy lives and the positions are designed to fit around you – whether you are an Army spouse, the parent, partner or sibling of a soldier – or just someone with an interest in Army life. WHAT CAN YOU DO? There are three types of roles; event support, communicating with families, and focus groups. Can you help us with attending a range of events from coffee mornings to passing out parades? Can you help us reach our dispersed communities through leaflet drops, email cascades and surveys? Can you spend some time sharing your experiences on specific issues? We hope to have opportunities in as many locations as possible but if there isn’t something near you, you could take part in our focus groups which will be run online. This enables you to support AFF from the comfort of your own home. Time will be taken with each individual to work out where we can help you in any self-development plans that you may have. There will also be some training to ensure you are fully supported. This will be role-dependent and is designed to be enjoyable.

“Flexible roles with flexible hours”

FIND OUT MORE We are inviting applicants to volunteer from all sections of the Army family community, and beyond to those who have an understanding of the impact military life has on families. More details are available on our website. Please visit now and see if there is something right for you –

What happens to your enquiry to AFF? MORE than 9,000 families approached AFF last year to ask for help or simply to tell us their thoughts. Our local AFF Co-ordinators can resolve individual problems, but what if what is happening to you is happening to lots of families? At AFF we aim to resolve the problem at local level but ensure that if it is affecting more than one family that we campaign at a higher level to ensure that the policy is changed.

08 Army&You winter 2013

Each of your enquiries goes through our evidence cycle:

1. You approach AFF 2. You are helped by AFF 3. Your enquiry is recorded anonymously on our database

4. Our database is analysed

Don’t sit quietly when something about Army family life is bothering you. Do get in touch with us here at AFF, either through your local AFF Co-ordinator or our team of Specialists via

for trends

5. We investigate trends and propose a way ahead 6. We lobby the MOD and wider agencies 7. Policy is changed.





Picture: Professional Images


2013 has seen an addition to the Covenant ‘family’. Julie Lowe, AFF Covenant Liaison, speaks to the MOD Armed Forces Covenant Team to find out what the new arrival means for Army families…


HE Corporate Covenant was launched in June to complement the Armed Forces Covenant and sit alongside the Community Covenant. WHAT IS A CORPORATE COVENANT? It’s a pledge from a business or charitable organisation wishing to demonstrate their concrete support for the Armed Forces community. Its aim is to ensure that serving personnel, Reserves, veterans and families face no disadvantage when either using the services of a company or working for them. Organisations pledge to uphold

who choose to be members of the the principles of the Armed Forces Reserve Forces Covenant. Commitments could include: l Offering l Supporting discounts to the employment MORE INFO members of the of Service The AFF website ( Armed Forces spouses and has a designated Armed Forces community. partners Covenant section, outlining the Catriona l Offering content and scope of the Covenant. Shaw, from the flexibility in The MOD Armed Forces Covenant Covenant Team, granting leave Team also provide details at explains: “Many for Service spouses and forces-covenant already support partners before, our Armed during and after Forces but the Corporate Covenant deployment allows them to do so formally. l Seeking to support any employees “The Armed Forces and their families give a huge amount to our country and it’s fantastic to see the real difference the Corporate Covenant is having.”

Good news for Service Children’s Visits You told us you were unhappy that full-time university students, with parents serving overseas, are no longer eligible for financial assistance towards flight costs home during the holidays. University accommodation is not always available in the holidays and so families face a considerable financial burden in bringing their children home. AFF took this issue to the chain of command and briefed at the highest level. We are delighted to say that our campaign has secured a change in the allowance system and the annual SCVs for dependants in tertiary education up to a maximum age of 23 years for personnel serving overseas has been restored. For further details, your soldier can check out the DIN 2013 01-199 on the Defence Intranet.

COMPANIES ON BOARD Many companies have now signed up to the scheme including Serco who offer interviews to Service personnel who meet the selection criteria. National Express has pledged discounts for Service personnel and their families, and Barclays is demonstrating its commitment by providing free calls to Armed Forces customers on deployment using a WelComE call card. Barclays will also manually review mortgage applications to ensure Service personnel are not disadvantaged as a result of gaps in their address history arising from their service. So look out for businesses showing their support by displaying the Corporate Covenant logo. winter 2013 Army&You 09


GRAPEVINE Really useful bits about Army life

Snap shot

© Crown copyright 2013

Our selection of the best images we have come across during the production of Army&You...

© Legotale

1. Season’s greeting Christmas in Afghanistan courtesy of Cpl Dek Taylor’s festive photo

© Handan Erek

2. Rising to the challenge A Lego™ version of The Great British Bake Off semi-finalist Beca Lyne-Pirkis. More on page 34!

3. SSAFA memorial Two brothers leave flowers for their father as UK & US families gather in Glasgow

4. Hot wheels for heroes The guys at Tedworth House took a spin in the #GREAT12C via @McLarenGroup 10 Army&You winter 2013

A mother’s tale F ORMER Army mum Eleanor Broaders has had a book of her poetry accepted into the Imperial War Museum’s permanent collection. The poet describes her self-published collection, Run Fast, Keep Low as “the story of a mum and how war affects families when sometimes the families get forgotten about”. Eleanor began writing poetry as a teenager and she found it helped her cope with experiences whilst son Kevin was away on operations in Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan. During his tour in Helmand, Kevin suffered a seizure related to the pressure of the deployment and was later medically discharged. Eleanor has since been supporting Kevin as his carer with assistance from SSAFA as a member of its Support Group for Families of Injured Service Personnel. You can order Run Fast, Keep Low through, with proceeds going to SSAFA and other military charities. a WIN! Army&You has a copy of this poignant collection, worth £7.99, to give away. To be in with a chance of winning, see competition rules on page three. Mark postal entries “Poetry”.

“” Sign up for swap shop For what should a hero look like? If not the ordinary man standing beside you, With all his heroic deeds unseen

LITTLE Wardrobe is a new online initiative giving you the opportunity to swap the clothes your little ones have outgrown. It’s an easy way to exchange top quality and pre-loved clothing for both babies and children up to the age of eight. Simply bundle up six to eight items of your children’s outgrown clothes and list them on the website with photographs and a description. Every bundle is listed according to age, gender and season, making the browsing process quick and easy. Why not join the Little Wardrobe community? Visit for a welcome pack and details.


Gone, but not

forgotten Join the world’s library BOOKCROSSING is a free, fun way to track and share books via social networking. You can tag and track your books by marking them with a unique identity number – once it’s registered on the site, you can follow your book and connect with other readers. With more than two million users and almost ten million titles around the world so far, you can share your love of books, find out where your books have been, buy books at discounted prices, and manage your bookshelf both on and offline. Instead of letting your old favourites collect dust – why not pass them on to another avid reader? Find out more at

YOUR VOTE COUNTS IT’S great news that the electoral voting window has been extended to ensure that Armed Forces families living overseas will be able to get their postal vote back to the ballot. The Electoral Registration and Administration Act 2013 extends the timetable for UK Parliamentary elections from 17 to 25 working days. Ballot papers are currently sent out just 11 days before the poll closes, but they can now be sent earlier to postal voters. The provisions should come into effect next year. a Make sure you are registered to vote –

Top tweets Our troops are just outstanding! My deepest respect and gratitude to them all! makes me proud to be British! #showyoursupport


CREATED by veteran James Lugassy and his brother, Notes With Wings is a free military specific memorial site. Inspired by the loss of a comrade, the website allows anyone to create an eternal memorial that captures the personality of a loved one and gives friends and family a place to add limitless memories using words, pictures, videos and more. Creating a memorial is simple. By adding in a touching eulogy and the medals earned, your hero will be reunited with comrades forever. All content can be moderated and

your memorial can be accessed by our caring public to leave their words of thanks and respect. a For more information, log on to the website at

Big white wall goes mobile AWARD-WINNING digital mental health and wellbeing service Big White Wall (BWW) is to roll out a mobile app, thanks to funding from the Forces in Mind Trust and the Department of Health. BWW has been a resounding success, delivering therapeutic services to more than 11,000 people and helping them to manage their mental health in the comfort of their own homes. Free to all UK serving personnel, veterans and their families, they offer the Armed Forces community help and support as well as the opportunity to form bonds within a safe environment. Due to be launched in early 2014, the app will enable you to access help and support on the go, whenever you need it. For more information, visit

Charity helps soldiers soar ARMY of Angels is a UK military charity providing support to members of the Armed Forces who have been injured, physically or mentally, while serving their country, as well as offering support to

their families too. Committed to helping our heroes and making a difference in their lives, the charity offers grant assistance for needs such as household necessities and alterations,

career retraining and rehabilitation equipment as well as holding charity events. To find out more about the charity or to apply for a grant, visit www.armyofangels.

What you’ve been saying about Army life on Twitter. Follow us @ArmyandYou and @The_AFF...

Please support @recruit4spouses helping military spouses find employment - the spouses are the strength behind the strong

Can finally say my hubby’s home this month amazing times ahead I’m in the “grown up club” we now own a house :D xxx

I love seeing Army families coming back together as one #MeltsMyHeart



@florixoxo winter 2013 Army&You 11


All Ranks,Tri-Service members’ club in London’s West End. • 2 minutes from Oxford Street, Hyde Park and Marble Arch • Modern, tastefully decorated bedrooms • Disabled friendly rooms • Rooms with air-conditioning • Free Wi-Fi throughout • Event Rooms for every occasion • Contemporary Lounge Bar for drinks, afternoon tea or light bites • Club Restaurant, serving Modern European cuisine with a range of British classics • Breakfast buffet with a wide range of healthy and traditional options • Reading Room for a quiet escape

To book call us on 0207 616 8346 or email



12 Army&You winter 2013

The Victory Services Club for Veterans, Serving Members of the Armed Forces, and their families.

Victory Services Club 63-79 Seymour Street London | W2 2HF



Mob rule


The five year old clung limpet-like to his khaki-clad leg. The four year old wailed. The two year old wandered about looking utterly confused. I swallowed hard, choking on the words. ‘I love you,’ I whispered, ‘please take care.’ He strode down the path, unable to look back. One husband bound for Afghanistan, three sons under six, and me, the Mother Of (three) Boys: the MOB [aka Hannah Evans]


MET up with a fellow Forces wife, whose husband was on the same tour as mine. We cried together. A bit. “I’m thinking of setting up as a florist,” she announced one weekend, mid-sobs. I stared at her. The idea of doing anything more than merely surviving the next six months seemed as foreign to me as the country where my husband was. “I’ve always wanted to give it a go,” she said, “and now seems like a good time to do something different.” I nodded, thoughtful. I COULDN’T WAIT FOR MONDAY I dropped my kids off and I had exactly two and three quarter hours before preschool pick up. Scrabbling about in the study, I found the magazine, picked up the phone and enrolled in a course with The Writers Bureau. When I was eight I decided that I would be a writer. So write I did. Tales of hedgehogs and horses, poems about roses and love, stories of travel and emotional turmoil. But I hadn’t taken it seriously, ’til now. Sure, I’d wondered what I might do when the children were all at school, had pondered what career I might be able combine with an ever-absent husband and the “flexibility” of Forces life. And writing had always been an option in the back of my mind, but I’d never got any further than sporadic meanderings. NEW BEGINNING I threw myself into The Writers Bureau assignments. I attended events (yes, actually went out), talked to established writers (not just children under six), got

Hannah Evans’ debut book

plenty of “constructive” criticism (harsh but fair), practised and practised, and endeavoured to improve. I wrote – as people always tell you to – about what I knew. I wrote about Forces life, my family, about the trials and tribulations of being a mother… of boys. If, as a result of my new-found focus, the deployment didn’t exactly whizz past, it certainly didn’t go any slower. And then, a national newspaper published one of my pieces. The headline capped a none-too-flattering photo of me in my jeans. “You should write a book!”, said friends, and thus my first publication, MOB Rule: Lessons Learned by a Mother of Boys, was born. Well, conceived anyway. I’d snatch hours at the keyboard between sundry drop offs and last minute pick-ups, minutes between putting on the washing and hanging it out. I’d scribble anecdotes on the back of shopping lists,

If, as a result of my new-found focus the deployment

didn’t whizz past, it certainly didn’t go any slower

jot down brainwaves mid-soup stir or at the kitchen sink. Some nights I dreamt in artistic alliteration. So now, in 2013, my friend lives in Wales surrounded by avalanche roses and her stunning creations. And MOB Rule was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury. YOUR MOMENT My husband continues to lead an unaccompanied life and me and the boys are still mostly home alone, but you can’t have everything. So for anyone whose spouse or partner is about to be deployed, my heart and hopes go out to you and your kin. Their departure needn’t all be bad because while they’re deployed you, as spouse-in-waiting, could be otherwise “employed”. This might just be your moment to give it a go. 2 For more info, visit mobruleblog. or follow Hannah Evans on Twitter @followtheMoB Mob Rule is available in all good bookshops. winter 2013 Army&You 13

14 Army&You winter 2013








FOLLOW the Lullaby Trust’s guidelines. It gives clear, simple advice on positioning in the cot, room temperature and the benefits of using a soother.

IT’S reassuring to go on a paediatric first aid course. The British Red Cross runs courses specifically for parents to help you cope with emergencies.




USE parenting books as a reference rather than a set of rules that must not be broken. Trust your instincts; if what you’re doing feels right and you and your baby are healthy and happy, stick with it!

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HAVING an upstairs and downstairs changing kit saves you continually running up and down. Place a doubled up muslin, well tucked in, at the head area of where your baby sleeps. If they’re a little sick, you only need to change the muslin rather than all the bedding.


A RELAXED and rested parent is better for baby than a tidy house! Rest when you can, remembering to turn off your phone. If relatives come to stay, make sure they are looking after you rather than the other way round! If you have time before you have your baby, stock up your freezer to save you having to cook when your new arrival comes along.


SPEAK to friends about what’s essential and what they could have done without. Try out all new equipment before your baby is born – you don’t want to be working out how the steriliser works with a very hungry baby crying. Practise putting in the car seat and folding the pram.




Nanny and maternity nurse Sarah Wheeler is an Army spouse and mum of four who offers support and advice to new parents. Here, she shares her top ten tips for caring for your most treasured possession…



REMAIN open minded about breastfeeding – it takes time and determination. As well as receiving help from your midwife and health visitor, lots of organisations offer support. Have formula, bottles and a steriliser at home so you won’t need to do a midnight dash to the supermarket if you are struggling with breastfeeding!



ENCOURAGE your baby to settle themselves to sleep by being put into their crib awake. Try not react to every tiny noise, they may settle back to sleep after a few minutes. Differentiate between night and day feeds by keeping night time feeds calm, in dim light and with little interaction. If your baby falls asleep half way through the last feed of the evening, try changing their nappy to wake them up and encourage them to take some more.


TRY and get out for a walk with your baby every day – even better if you can tie this in with a coffee, a slice of cake and a natter with a friend!



Love them a lot! Keep one end clean and the other end fed. Everything else is optional!

winter 2013 Army&You xx




N A hidden walled garden in Lancashire, the Dig In North West project team welcomes anyone from the military community to join them for some gardening, chat and a brew. Programme founder and Senior Horticultural Therapist Donna RoweGreen tells us more… Mud, mud, glorious mud… well, compost if I am being pedantic. Is there anything better than getting your hands dirty and sowing some seeds? Or potting up some herbs to grow in even the smallest garden? Or harvesting peas? You get the picture. Here at Ashton Park, Preston, we do all of this and more. Dig In North West is a not-for-profit project that offers a relaxed atmosphere for serving Regular, Reserve and veteran Service families. It’s not a talking therapy or a commercial market garden, but merely a place to meet people

A RARE BREED? Stay-at-home dads are not the rare breed they once were. According to the Office for National Statistics, there were 189,000 of them in the UK in 2008 and the figure is rising. As the husband of an Army Medic, Nigel Jackson tells us what life is like from the perspective of a male Service spouse…

who have a shared experience, to come together and support each other. REGULAR SESSIONS As well as our routine monthly family activities, we have a programme for the school holidays which includes decorating plant pots, a sensory treasure trail and an arts and craft picnic. These sessions are only available to military families and thanks to the generosity of sponsors Greggs the Bakers, we’re able to offer them for free. This time 12 months ago the garden was an overgrown jungle. We were very fortunate to have Channel 5’s Construction Squad, called Operation Homefront, help us transform it into a beautiful oasis. Along with local volunteers and businesses, they cleared the site and built the garden in just four days!


AM a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) with three children aged three, nine and ten. I left my job to look after the children so my wife Louise can have a career in the Army. She is currently deployed for six-and-ahalf months.

community, such as when my threeyear-old girl wants to use the toilet when we’re out; I find very few male toilets that have changing facilities, so I end up using the disabled one much to the consternation of the people waiting to use it!

MAKING FRIENDS Being a SAHD does have some challenges within a predominantly female environment. For the first few weeks, everyone I met assumed that I was a soldier on leave looking after the children, so the conversation was difficult to start with. But as time passed the other parents (mums) realised and began to include me within their circle of friends. I now get invites to various social events and it’s great to be accepted.

THE SAME ISSUES I have the same concerns and challenges that any female parent has when their partner goes away, whether it’s for a course or deployment. There’s the “missing you” syndrome, school events, clubs and so on, but my network of friends are very supportive and they freely offer help and advice. Of course, on our next posting I know I will have to start over. Luckily, my skin is thicker than a rhino’s and I’m prepared for it. I know there aren’t many of us who choose this option but I can assure you it’s not a soft one.

IT’S A SOCIETY THING Some of the difficulties I face are experienced by dads everywhere when caring for their children, not just in the Forces 16 Army&You winter 2013

Go to for more information or if you would like to come and visit, email me at info@ I’ll have the kettle on – mud is optional.

l Are you a stay-at-home dad married to a soldier? Tell us your story, email @ArmyandYou


Happy family: Avery Maddaloni with husband John and girls Kate and Faith

A&Y Feature

In it for the LONG HAUL

At the start of her two-year posting to America last September, Julie McCarthy’s husband arrived home a week into his new job with the news that he might be deploying to the Middle East for nine months. At around the same time, the MOD announced that operational tours may be extended for UK Armed Forces personnel. Just how do American spouses cope with longer-length deployments? 18 Army&You winter 2013


{ YOUR FAMILY } Avery has been married for 13 years and has two daughters aged four and five. Linda has been married for 17 years and has a son aged seven. Cheryl has been married forever and has two teenage daughters. HOW DO YOU PREPARE FOR SUCH A LONG PERIOD OF SEPARATION? Avery: I collect important documents together and sell vehicles that we won’t need for the nine months. I try to get organised but there’s also a fair amount of freaking out and swearing! Linda: Us too! We try to spend time together as a family to create memories which Deacon and I can talk about while my husband is away.

seeing your husband and having your child see that his parent is alright is worth it. GETTING BACK TO NORMAL ON HIS RETURN WAS FOR ME, ONE OF THE HARDEST THINGS ABOUT MY HUSBAND’S DEPLOYMENT. WHAT DO YOU DO TO REINTEGRATE YOUR SOLDIER BACK INTO THE FAMILY? A: Try not to make it too overwhelming with the kids. He is not used to caring for them by himself; it’s too much of an adjustment to do it without preparation.

WHAT ABOUT YOUR CHILDREN? HOW DO YOU READY THEM? A REPORT IN 2009 STATED THAT IT WAS Cheryl: It’s easier now that the girls are older NOT THE LENGTH OF TOURS THAT CAUSED and to some degree have their own lives to be ISSUES WITH FAMILY DYNAMICS BUT THE getting on with but they also understand the NUMBER OF DEPLOYMENTS. WOULD dangers of operational deployments and can YOU AGREE? get scared for their dad. Thankfully this A: I think the number last tour was peaceful. of deployments A: We bought Daddy is harder than Dolls which have “We talked about the length due my husband’s photo daddy leaving to preparing and printed on them. We and filled two reintegrating the soldier talked about daddy with their family. After leaving and filled two jars jars with 270 a while of waiting for the with 270 chocolate kisses one chocolate kisses deployment to begin you mostly for each day he’s away so daddy one for each day just want them to leave to start can kiss them every day. he’s away” the clock ticking and get on with L: Deacon has known for a while the “new normal”. about his daddy leaving, we try L: I‘d agree – once they are not to make a big deal out of it. gone it does tend to get easier We showed him where he was and you can see an end. going and talked about how we Constant leaving is much harder could all keep in touch. on the kids. HOW DO YOU KEEP IN Thankfully for me, my husband stayed with the rear TOUCH WITH YOUR party while 75th Fires Bde deployed. SOLDIER? But the spouses I’ve met in America have shown me C: We emailed each other that families can and do survive long separations. It’s every day and spoke not easy but with the support of organisations like whenever possible. AFF, it is possible. A: We talk on the phone on average twice a week and Skype on Sundays. NINE-MONTH TOURS ATTRACT NO R&R ENTITLEMENT (IN THE BRITISH ARMY THE SOLDIER GETS TWO PERIODS OF R&R OF 14 DAYS) – HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THAT? L: We never had R&R. I think it is a double edged sword. Disruptive yes, but in the end

If your soldier is deployed and you need some help or advice, visit www. and click on personnel support or contact your local AFF Co-ordinator via winter 2013 Army&You xx

Š Crown Copyright / MoD / Malcolm Cochrane Photography

Celebrate our soldiers this Christmas

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FORCES sweethearts The appeal of a man or woman in uniform is a familiar stereotype in the dating world, but what’s it really like to be in a relationship with a soldier? Kate Viggers talks to partners of serving personnel to find out...

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juggling a long-distance relationship with ALLING in love with a soldier can her studies in Scotland. Her fiancé had to mean entering an alien world commute weekly from the base to be with where frequent separation, her and their son. lack of stability and deployment “I didn’t have any contact with the worries become the norm. Army. Jamie was missing out on being “The hardest thing is the uncertainty,” a parent, so I moved to Catterick,” she says Nic Porrill whose boyfriend serves in Tidworth. “Jim’s away a lot and doesn’t tell explains. “We’re a stronger family unit and everyone’s in the me much!” same situation here, Like many so it’s easier to talk.” “unmarrieds” Nic I had the impression lives in her own everything was aimed at BEING RECOGNISED home, so doesn’t marrieds but actually Male partners can find have instant access the Army community has it particularly hard to to a sympathetic been very welcoming adapt to military life; military-savvy despite increased environment. “I numbers of female don’t get that sense soldiers, they remain of community from a minority. Stacey Sturman, who serves in being on patch.” Middle Wallop, met Rob 12 years ago and Daisy Gibbs also felt disconnected

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they recently married. “We’ve been together probably more than most couples around our estate but I feel a bit awkward at times; people look at me differently because it’s my wife serving,” Rob says. “Every group event is all women – mums and tots, wives’ coffee mornings. I’m sure this happens in all bases but it’s the 21st century!” Partners like Rob or Daisy – in a committed relationship, with children – can feel devalued and ignored by the system; non-dependants aren’t allowed onto camp unescorted, for example. Housing rules cause frustration, too. Service Families Accommodation (SFA) is prioritised for married personnel, so Daisy and Jamie have to wait until after their wedding next May to apply. In the meantime, they rent privately in the garrison at a higher rate than their married @ArmyandYou



Tilly Lambert and boyfriend Adam Lee; Elle, Rob and Stacey Sturman.

neighbours. The Sturmans have also experienced housing issues. During Stacey’s first posting Rob was only allowed to stay a few nights a week as they weren’t married, even though she had their newborn at home. When Stacey deployed, Rob had to move in with family members because he wasn’t entitled to remain in SFA. “I had to travel a fair distance as my daughter’s nursery was near Stacey’s quarter, which we still had to pay for every month,” he says. “There were briefs for partners and spouses and I didn’t get asked to any. I believe it’s because I’m a bloke and it’s usually the other way round.” Stacey adds: “The reason we didn’t get married is because we simply couldn’t afford it – £900 per month was going on our childcare costs.” Having lived with her husband before their marriage, Bex Valentine, AFF’s Director Personnel, knows that the unit’s response to a “non-entitled person” can have a big impact. “I think it’s critical that unmarried partners feel welcome and able to use the help available,” she says. “Their concerns are the same as those of any spouse.” COMMUNICATING The Army says the challenge in supporting unmarrieds lies in relying on soldiers to provide accurate information about their dependants.

Some soldiers don’t want to include their AFF has appointed a Social Media Assistant to enhance its online support. partner in work stuff or a partner may not “It’s an effective way of connecting wish to be involved, viewing the Service with people we can’t reach through career as separate from normal life. the SFA letterbox,” explains Catherine “Unless the Army is informed about Spencer, AFF Chief Executive. Regimental significant relationships, it cannot meet Facebook pages advertise events geared welfare requirements,” adds Major Dave towards spouses and partners. Coward, SO2 Fam Reserves (PS4). Nic says: “At first I had the impression “Often, parents are listed as next of kin everything was aimed at marrieds but so nobody knows the partner exists. The actually the Army community has been onus is on the individual to keep their very welcoming.” personnel record up-to-date.” A relationship with a soldier clearly It’s also important to check your soldier presents challenges unlike those has told the Army about you because it experienced by could affect financial civilian couples – but benefits; not all it has its upsides! entitlements are “Jim and I really based on marital Supporting unmarrieds value our time status. Benefits lies in relying on together,” says Nic. outside those soldiers to provide Rob adds: “I get provided by the accurate information about their dependants free access to the MOD could be camp gym, which I do affected too, for appreciate! I love the example insurance fact my wife is living beneficiaries. her dream and will Tilly Lambert, from support her all the way.” Hampshire, thinks it’s vital to take an interest in her boyfriend’s profession. l To read about how the Army helped an “Civvie friends don’t always understand unmarried partner through a crisis, see and it makes such a difference to know Postbag on page 66. the soldiers he works with, especially if they’re deploying.” If you are an unmarried partner, there’s lots of useful, relevant REACHING THE WIDER FAMILY information online at The internet helps many unmarrieds join and in with Service life and feel less isolated. winter 2013 Army&You 23


Wellbeing with words When your soldier is no longer deployed, you sometimes think that you don’t need to fear that knock on the door anymore. For wife, Joanne Steele, that fear was reignited when a policeman came to tell her that her husband, Ben, had been involved in a motorbike accident. Here she tells us how creative writing workshops at the Help for Heroes Recovery Centre at Tedworth House in Tidworth helped her to deal with the life-changing consequences…


N SEPTEMBER last year, Ben lost control of his motorbike on a bend resulting in a through-knee amputation on his left leg. The initial aftermath of the accident was non-stop. Ben spent four weeks in hospital before going on to rehabilitation at DMRC Headley Court; supporting him and reorganising our domestic lives – including an impending move to an adapted quarter – became my priority.

The workshops taught me the importance of doing something for yourself during difficult times

TEDWORTH HOUSE Tedworth House Recovery Centre, run by Help for Heroes, and writers from the literary charity, English PEN, have been holding creative writing workshops for residents and day visitors as part of the holistic approach to recovery. I was invited along as a member of the Help for Heroes Band of Sisters, a support network for the loved ones of wounded, ill and injured Service personnel. Before the accident I had been writing non-fiction and blogging for a couple of years with a view to building myself a freelance career, whilst

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working as a temporary administrator with the NHS. Writing had been on hold since the accident, so when the email about the workshops came in the New Year it was an ideal opportunity to get back to it and to meet the team at Tedworth House and others in a similar situation.

Rediscovering that I can write fiction has also inspired my determination to pursue a freelance career; and having that focus – an element of self-preservation – has given me the strength to deal with Ben’s injuries and our changing lifestyle.

REDISCOVERING WRITING As an aspiring writer, it was insightful listening to the life stories, works and methods of the different writers. It was also encouraging to learn that I am not the only one who suffers from writer’s block. Hearing the standard of the work produced by the group – when creative writing is so outside the military comfort zone – was both humbling and inspiring. By reminding me how much I enjoyed writing stories and poetry at school, the workshops taught me the importance of doing something for yourself during difficult times when it might seem too selfindulgent.

USEFUL CONTACTS Band of Sisters team bandofsisters 01980 844280 @ArmyandYou



VOCAL SUPPORT After going with some trepidation to her first rehearsal with the Military Wives Choir, Army mum, and former Army wife, Mary Burdick soon realised she needn’t have worried. Here she tells us about her journey with Salisbury Plain MWC…

Picture: Liz



Y HUSBAND had left the Army nearly ten years previously, so I wasn’t even sure that I still qualified as a military wife. I did think, however, that since our son Nick had followed his dad into the Gunners, I’d be okay – and I was right! I was made to feel so welcome, and it turned out that I had a lot more in common with many of the ladies than I thought I would.

Falklands and Bosnia. Stories of difficulties with quarters, postings and babysitters take me back to when my husband was serving. Despite all the problems, it was a life I loved and one I’ve missed.

EMPATHY I had done a bit of singing in the past, but nothing on this scale. Our rehearsals are attended by around 70 ladies. Everything kicks off with a COMFORTING CHOIR cuppa – and quite often cake My son Nick is in Afghanistan – as we catch up with each as I write this, so the choir has other’s news. been a huge comfort to I can appreciate me. Other ladies are the stresses going through and strains of the same “THE CHOIR the current emotions, and operational HAS BEEN A I feel more tours as they HUGE COMFORT connected to are similar to TO ME” what’s going what we went on as a result. through when I’m always our soldiers were being asked how away on exercises in he is and when he’ll be Germany and on repeated back, so it’s good to know that tours of Northern Ireland, the others care.

SPECIAL BUZZ Singing together with friends gives you a special high. It’s a real incentive to get organised, get some lippy on and drag yourself away from the telly! Then, of course, there’s the amazing buzz of a public performance; that really makes all the hard work involved so rewarding. MY HIGHLIGHTS I feel privileged to have performed at high-profile events such as the Leeds Castle Classical Concert to an audience of 18,000. However, local performances such as homecomings are really special as they often involve some of the choir’s family members. I was thrilled to perform

at one of Sir Cliff Richard’s concerts, as he was one of my teenage idols! We all have different commitments in our busy lives, but singing with my talented, strong and supportive new friends is a special time just for me. I would encourage anyone thinking about joining their local choir to go ahead and give it a try – it’s completely transformed my life! If you are a lady with a military connection – Regular or Reserve Servicewoman, wife, co-habiting partner, mother, sister, daughter or support worker within the Service community, you can connect with your nearest choir at www.

MARY BURDICK: PROFILE l Became an Army wife (1982) l Two sons, Nick and Edward l Posted to Germany, UK, Texas l Husband left the Army (2003) l Became an Army mum (2006) l Joined MWC (2012) winter 2013 Army&You 27


AN END TO In theory, you will never move into a quarter with stained floors again! Here, AFF Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, tells us why you can expect the red carpet treatment…


HEN the new maintenance contract for Service Families Accommodation (SFA) in the UK is awarded next year, many changes are being planned – including the provision of carpets. Under the current arrangements, floor coverings aren’t included so it can be a laborious process to get your carpets changed. The New Housing Prime (NHP) contractor will now be responsible for carpets, which will hopefully increase availability and mean that you get them replaced faster once they have been approved! All floor coverings have to be of the same or a higher standard than the ones you currently see in SFA. FUTURE IMPROVEMENTS I recently attended a demonstration event to see the new choice of carpet and lino. I’m pleased to report that, whilst it’s beige and very neutral, it looks nice and should go with most household colour schemes (so much better than the old terracotta if any one remembers that!). The good news is as part of the contract, a cleaning and repair service will be offered.

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I watched while a small burn mark was re-tufted and everyday stains were removed in front of my eyes. A larger mark was cut out and replaced and even going on my hands and knees I couldn’t see where the repair had been done! This service will be available at any time (at a reduced cost), so it should help to keep your carpets up to scratch and reduce charges on move-out. It also means that if you are charged for stains they will be dealt with before the next family moves in. TOP CLEANING TIPS 4 Act quickly after a spill before it becomes a permanent stain 4 Blot liquids with a dry absorbent cloth (do not rub or pour water on as this may spread the stain) 4 Make up a weak solution of a quarter of a teaspoon of washing up liquid to a cup of lukewarm water – always test in an inconspicuous place first. An alternative is a weak solution of water and

white vinegar 4 Work the solution in gently (don’t rub) from the edges into the centre of the spill 4 Allow the solution to remain on the stain for a few minutes and then blot 4 Continue to do this until you can’t see any of the spill appearing on the cloth 4 When the spill is totally gone, rinse well with cold water and blot the area until it is as dry as possible 4 If this doesn’t remove the spill, you could try buying a stain remover specific to the spill but read the instructions first 4 Burn marks may need a professional to cut out and repair, but try gently rubbing the surface with sandpaper or wire wool and then hoovering before you call in the experts.




your quarter


(Annex B to Chapter 7) which your soldier can F YOU’RE moving into Service Families access on the Defence Intranet. If the items add Accommodation (SFA) for the first time up to 50 per cent or less, you will pay the you might not have all the items part furnished charge, or if it adds up you need to furnish your to 51 or more, the furnished charge home. will apply. Help is at hand as housing Example cost The unfurnished charge is only can be provided furnished or (per day) applicable to SFA equipped part furnished. Grade 1 Type C SFA: with carpets, curtains and a It’s straightforward Unfurnished: £9.55 cooker, but not other furniture Part furnished: £10 to arrange by Furnished: £10.45 items (except where these stating what you are fitted, such as built in need at the time you wardrobes). apply for your quarter If you need extra furniture and there are a range of once you’re settled, or you want items available from dining tables to hand furniture back, contact your local and chairs and lounge furniture through to Accommodation Services Unit. bedsteads and mattresses. If there isn’t a telephone number in your SFA pack, ask your local Housing Officer or the WHAT ARE THE CHARGES? HASC – 0800 169 6322. When you move out, Charges are based on percentage points the HASC will inform the furniture providers so applied to each item depending on the type they can make arrangements. of the property – these are listed in JSP 464

BREAKING THE MOULD LAST year AFF launched its “mould database” in order to gather as much information about how many Service Families Accommodation (SFA) have mould and damp problems. The residents of Elm Hill in Warminster got behind this project and ten houses were recorded on our database. DIO agreed to carry out intrusive structural checks on sample properties to see if remedial works were required. The investigations revealed that the properties were suffering from water ingress through poor roofs and cold

bridging, resulting in damp and mould in upstairs rooms. ROOT CAUSE After a successful funding bid, DIO is replacing all the roofs at Elm Hill, which should remove the root cause of the damp and eradicate the mould which these houses – and families – have been plagued with for many years. This is a huge success story and the AFF database is currently being used by DIO to help them pinpoint

more areas which may need further investigation and repairs. By families, AFF, MHS and DIO working together we can improve our standard of living on the MOD estate. If you have any issues with damp and mould in your SFA or SSFA, keep reporting them to MHS and take the time to fill in our database at

! WIN BEAUTIFUL BALANCE BIKES GET your kids into cycling this winter with MyBeautifulBike’s range of children’s balance bikes. As busy mums and dads, it’s often difficult to teach your children the skill of riding a bike. Designed to be used by very young children, these pedal-less bikes are moved by pushing along the ground with their feet. With no stabilisers attached, your child will learn to balance and steer quickly, getting them ready for their first “grown-up” bike later on. Visit to find out more. a Army&You is giving away a fabulous girls or boys balance bike to two lucky winners (worth £49.99 each). See page three for entry details, and mark postal entries “Bike”. Don’t forget to let us know if you would like the girl’s or boy’s bike!

Working together we can improve our

standard of living on the MOD estate

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DON’T IGNORE SAFETY CHECKS There are lots of reasons why we need to give access for contractors to enter our quarter. Although it’s time consuming to fit these appointments into our busy lives, it’s essential that we do to ensure our family’s safety…

8 GAS INSPECTIONS DIO has a statutory requirement to undertake gas safety checks. Failure to allow access for inspections is a serious breach of your licence to occupy a quarter. Unfortunately, AFF is aware that some families are not permitting access for these free inspections. If you fail to be there when an appointment has been arranged, a revised yellow safety warning will now be issued. Failure to permit access at the next appointment will trigger a red safety warning and DIO may contact your soldier’s chain of command in an effort to gain access. To ensure the wellbeing of your family and neighbours, please do not ignore these important safety checks.

8 ASBESTOS SURVEY ALL buildings built in the UK during the last century may contain asbestos containing materials. Whilst these do not present a danger if they are kept in good order and not disturbed, DIO has been carrying out

Your AFF Housing Specialist Do you have any concerns, questions or feedback to give us on housing issues? Contact our AFF Specialist, Cat Calder, on 07789 551158 or

surveys of SFA. You shouldn’t be unduly worried if you receive a visit from a surveyor, as the purpose is to determine and record where asbestos is. This will help DIO to manage these properties more effectively, especially during periods of major refurbishment where the ultimate goal is to remove asbestos completely. If you receive an appointment, please do permit access.

8 RADON WATCH YOU may also be asked to allow DIO to carry out radon monitoring at your quarter. Radon is a naturally occurring gas produced from some soils and rocks, which could affect the health of people who are exposed longterm to high concentrations. The current radon survey is aimed at lower risk areas and a small number of SFA where access has not been available previously. SFA in areas of high radon concentrations have already been monitored, and where required, measures have been put in place. a For further information on any of these checks, contact our AFF Housing Specialist, Cat Calder at

The magic is in the mitten MAGIC Mitten is the first ever handheld baby calming aid that plays settling white noise sounds that only your baby can hear. The specially composed sounds have a soothing effect even if your little one has colic. The clever design allows you to securely and easily hold your baby while holding the Magic Mitten to your baby’s ear. It has a fixed volume providing a safe decibel level and three sound options, including mother’s heartbeat, ocean waves and rain on a tin roof. To find out more, visit Army&You has a Magic Mitten worth £29 up for grabs. See page three for entry details. Mark postal entries “Magic Mitten”.

FIND IT HERE Did you know you can find lots of information about Service Families Accommodation on the website? There are sections on entitlement, applications, moving, repairs and complaints, as well as lots of useful contacts including the Housing Allocations Service Centre and maintenance helpdesks. Search for SFA at

LIVING Bovington Garrison is the first military base to sign a pledge to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination as part of the Time to Change campaign. Bovington Medical Centre Matron, Major Vanessa Crossey, explains…




WANTED to improve the situation for families in Bovington. Issues that affect people here are the isolated location – some people don’t drive or have access to a car. There’s also separation from their partner and feelings of anxiousness, loneliness or depression. The Time to Change pledge can be carried out in many ways – an employer could alter their culture and policies so that people with mental health problems are supported at work. It isn’t a quality mark or endorsement; organisations don’t have to pass a test or submit a lengthy application. What matters is that they are taking action that’s realistic and right for them which will lead to a reduction in discrimination within the organisation or in the wider community. LOCAL SUPPORT Bovington Garrison has supported soldiers and families through a series of initiatives, such as “Tea and Talk” workshops to challenge people’s perceptions about mental health and, more recently, a “Coffee and Chat” group which meets every week. Working closely with my NHS colleagues and with the support of the chain of command, I hope that this will encourage other medical centres across the country to participate. The MOD will be signing up later this year to reinforce the Army’s commitment to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

l If you are interested in undertaking a similar health promotion campaign within your unit, contact Vanessa on 01929 403474 l Visit the HIVE for information on the Coffee and Chat group l Further information on Time to Change:

Getting you FIT for work ARE you struggling with your job due to a mental health issue? You could get support and guidance through the free and confidential Workplace Mental Health Support Service delivered by Remploy. If you’re the spouse, partner, boyfriend/ girlfriend or parent of a soldier, you may face stress, sadness or worry when your family member is away, which could impact on you in your place of work. Remploy’s experienced advisers offer work-focused mental health support for

up to six months, aimed at helping you remain in, or return to your role. Support is tailored to your needs and includes: l Assessment of your needs to identify suitable coping strategies l A personalised support plan l Suggestions for adjustments in the workplace or in working practices l Guidance for employers on supporting employees with mental health conditions. Go to or call 0845 146 0501 for more details.

YOUR AFF HEALTH & ADDITIONAL NEEDS SPECIALIST Do you have any concerns, questions or feedback to give us on health or additional needs issues? Contact our AFF Specialist, Karen Ross, on 07552 861983 or l This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

Arty celebration


S PART of its 25th year celebrations, SSAFA Forces Additional Needs and Disability Forum (FANDF) is holding an art competition. The theme, “Celebrating Life and Achievement”, is aimed at those people who have loved ones with additional needs and disabilities. The competition is open to youngsters aged four to 18 as well as adults in the Service community and prize winners will have their work exhibited at the FANDF Art Exhibition. You don’t have to be Rembrandt, just grab your paintbrush, pen or pencil and get creating! 2 Send your entries to: Jane Barnes, SSAFA, Queen Elizabeth House, 4 St Dunstan’s Hill, London, EC3R 8AD. For more information, call 020 7463 9234 or email The closing date is March 31. 32 Army&You winter 2013



Cork your consumption


T IS difficult to talk about alcohol awareness without it sounding like preaching, so I promise this isn’t going to be a sermon, writes AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, Karen Ross. However, it’s an important subject, especially with recent coverage of the increase in alcohol-related health conditions. Much of the media blames the binge drinking culture and we have all seen images of this in the news. HITTING THE BOTTLE Traditionally the Army has been considered a “thirsty” organisation. It’s part of the social scene and encourages comradeship, but it can also impact on your soldier’s behaviour and health. Research has estimated that in the Army, 75 per cent of violent offences are alcohol related. Vital resources are used to treat illness or injury brought about by alcohol misuse. WIDER PROBLEM So does it only extend to serving soldiers or is drinking a wider problem in the community? I remember the scene in the TV drama Homefront (I can hear many groans) when one of the wives strapped a drip bag of vodka to her thigh so she could have a cheap night out on the booze! Although this isn’t a true representation of Army spouses, we need to consider what our drinking habits are.

The other thing that often surprises How many of us regularly get together en people is the amount masse when our of calories in alcohol. soldiers are away So if you are trying and crack open “IS ALCOHOL BECOMING to lose weight check a bottle or two of AN EMOTIONAL those calories before wine? CRUTCH FOR YOU?” you have that glass! Often we feel we deserve it after TIPS TO HELP coping with everything on our own. So is NHS Choices ( has some alcohol becoming an emotional crutch for excellent information and a downloadable you or for someone close to you? alcohol unit calculator or check out a drinks tracker app for your phone HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? available from iTunes. l Even social drinkers may be putting Change4Life ( their health at risk l Nine million people drink more than the has a short video on sneaky drinks, including tips on cutting alcohol intake. recommended daily amount l 2-3 units of alcohol per day could add up to a serious health problem for women l Men should drink no more than 3-4 units per day USEFUL LINKS l A pint and a half of beer = 3-4 units l One medium glass of wine = 2.1 units Supports families affected by alcohol The Department of Health advises that or drugs you should have at least two alcohol-free days a week to allow your liver to recover Helping people resolve from even the smallest amount. problematic drinking It doesn’t take much to drink more than the recommended amount, particularly Promotes responsible with Christmas just around the corner. drinking You don’t have to give up completely, Drinkline but it may be worth considering cutting 0800 917 8282 down a little or at least being aware of what you’re drinking.

Show stopper Chatting cakes, choirs and camaraderie with Bake Off’s Beca


© BBC Pictures

IVEN its somewhat unfair reputation as a craft favoured by genteel housewives in middle England, the rise of baking into edge-of-the-seat primetime TV has been phenomenal. Thanks to BBC’s The Great British Bake Off, families across the nation have become au fait with soggy bottoms, pondered over pastry and deliberated over dough. And for viewers with a soldier in their life, the show’s most recent series had added spice thanks to the addition of Army wife Beca Lyne-Pirkis. The Aldershot-based baker, whose husband Matt is a corporal serving with 4th Medical Regiment, enjoyed an impressive run to the competition’s semifinals where she came within a whisker of making the last three.

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Speaking to Army&You, the full-time mum said that despite finishing filming in June, she has only recently been able to digest just how well she performed. “Whenever I’m asked about the standard of baking on the show, I always say that it was amazing without really including myself,” she explained. “I had a blip in week two – bread week – when my loaf stuck to the baking tray. I was annoyed because it’s something that I have done so many times and I was in a situation where I knew that one mistake could get me kicked out. “I got through that and then I had a great run until the semi-final where the decision came down to taste and sometimes they liked it and sometimes they didn’t. “I was very disappointed to go out, but it has been nice to have had people coming up to me since the programme

saying I should not have gone and that if it came down to a vote, they would have voted for me.” FOOD FANATIC Earning her place among the 13 bakers vying for the TV show’s culinary crown was the highlight-to-date of Beca’s almost life-long love for baking. From growing up in Wales around two grandmothers with a flair for cooking to testing out her recipes on family and friends, the 32-year-old admits to food playing a key role in her life – almost to the point where she made it her career. “I have literally baked ever since I could stand next to my mum while she was in the kitchen,” she said. “Food has been a huge part of my upbringing. “I would have pursued it further, but it isn’t the most appealing career to tell your parents you want to have, so I went down the route of working in sponsorship and being quite hectic.” Beca’s time in the cut-and-thrust of corporate life came to an end when she got married to Matt and fell pregnant, at which point she left her job. And it was while she was waiting for the arrival of daughter Mari that the aspiring baker got hooked on a previous series of The Great British Bake Off. Although she was unsure about putting herself under the scrutiny of expert judges Mary Berry and Paul Hollywood, Beca’s family finally convinced her to apply for the programme. “Both my parents and my brother were saying that I should enter because I baked @ArmyandYou


HER TOUGHEST BAKE “I found the top-and-bottom fruit pie quite difficult. The dough needs time to rest because it shrinks if you bake it too soon after kneading, but we only had two hours to finish the bake.” BUDGET-FRIENDLY COOKING “My previous job was quite well paid, but when I left and we became a single-income family we were very careful with money. “We sit down for ten minutes at the start of each week to plan our meals and decide who is doing what. “We make sure that we don’t waste anything, so if we have lamb on Sunday I will use any meat left on the bone to make soup during the week. I always have pastry and that means there’s a lot I can do – both sweet and savoury.” PAUL AND MARY “Mary Berry is incredible really – she’s 78 and her knowledge is phenomenal. She would come up to my bench and talk to me or give me a hug in the morning. She’s very fair and always found a positive with what you had made and gave you constructive criticism. “The editing makes Paul appear a certain way, but he kept himself to himself because he didn’t want anyone’s personality to influence his judging. He was always available to give advice and you could ask him questions if something went wrong to find out how to improve.”

© BBC Pictures

BAKING FOR FRIENDS “We have coffee mornings in Aldershot every Wednesday and the wives enjoy what I make, but I think they’re scared to bake me anything! “I personally haven’t got much of a sweet tooth, so if I’m ever judging a competition and you want to make the top three, make something savoury!”

all the time and loved making cakes and bread,” she added. “It took me about two months to get myself in gear and actually send the form off. “I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to do it – to appear on national TV and have the pressure of wondering if I would be liked or whether I would do well or not. “The application process was quite lengthy because they really test your knowledge on baking and ask for examples of your experiences, both good and bad. “They then did a phone interview

followed by an audition where I had to make two of my own recipes. Before they even considered you as a contestant you had to prove you could bake, so it was good to know they were strict on who got through. I was very proud to make it from 14,000 applicants.” TOUGH COMPETITION Taking her place in the famous Bake Off tent, Beca soon realised that the stringent entry process meant she was up against the crème de la crème of

British baking talent. Far from being fazed by the quality of competition, Beca rose to the challenge and had her rivals feeling the heat right up until her unfortunate exit. Her lack of nerves about taking on such talented opponents – which Beca puts down to “doing something she loves” – did not extend to the entire process. Previously used to baking under her own steam, she was suddenly expected to create masterpieces against huge time constraints and with other bakers and a TV crew buzzing around. She said: “I am very competitive and it was interesting when I met everyone for the first time because I didn’t know what their strengths and weaknesses were. “In the first week I could tell that the standard was amazing and it just went up and up from there. I quite quickly had to come to terms with that and the fact that I was baking in a kitchen I didn’t

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know, surrounded by production crew, sound men and other bakers. “I don’t usually bake around other people, so it was hard when things were going wrong around me. “I could hear it happening but had to try not to be distracted. “The competition itself isn’t designed to deliberately trip anyone up. All of the challenges are hard, but they are possible and it meant that if someone did well you knew they were a force to be reckoned with.”

music to pursue her other love of singing. As a member of Aldershot Military Wives Choir, Beca has forged close relationships with a growing group of like-minded people who understand the challenges of being married to a soldier. She said: “I didn’t really feel part of the community until I joined up. It’s a great way to meet people who live nearby who share a passion for singing. “My degree is in music, so through the choir I have got to know people who have similar interests. “They were probably my best supporters through the Bake Off process. “One of our key objectives is providing a support network for wives and girlfriends when a family is posted.

We have been lucky to be in one place for almost three years, but others get moved around a lot. “If you are in a choir, you can find another near to wherever you move and instantly be around like-minded people.” MORALE BOOSTER Wherever following the flag takes the Lyne-Pirkis family in the coming years, those lucky enough to meet Beca will undoubtedly get to benefit from her baking brilliance. And while she gains personal satisfaction from creating showstopping sweet and savoury treats, Beca remains keenly aware of the importance of food in lifting spirits when times get tough. “I have been looking more and more at how food boosts morale, especially in the Army,” she concluded. “If your other half has been away and living on rations, they think about home-cooked meals a lot. “One of our good friends is currently in Afghanistan and I will be sending him some brownies, but equally if a child is missing their dad or you are cooking your husband his favourite meal, food is hugely important.”

© BBC Pictures

EXCITING FUTURE Since winning an army of fans with her bubbly personality and brilliant baking, Beca has been splitting spending time with her family with an avalanche of interest from a host of media outlets. Her character has also brought about discussions over a possible Welshlanguage TV show, a book deal and a spot teaching at a cooking school. She also shared a recipe for a delicious cake in aid of SSAFA’s Big Brew Up fundraising campaign and has continued to bake for her husband’s unit and other Army families. But as much as food remains a central part of her life, Beca has found time to make use of her degree in

In the first week I could tell the standard was amazing and it just went up and up from there

winter 2013 Army&You 37


Building on tradition Flourishing on innovation Set in beautiful rural West Midlands countryside, Lucton offers outstanding educational, sporting and extra-curricular opportunities to boys and girls from Pre Prep to A level. Lucton is currently home to many forces children and offers a happy, family environment. Please call to arrange a visit or to receive a copy of the prospectus.


• Excellent results • Sixth Form Centre • Sport for all • Equestrian Centre • CCF


Lucton, Herefordshire HR6 9PN

01568 782000 38 Army&You winter 2013

New Equestrian Centre @ArmyandYou


CV writing: emphasise the positive Joanna Murchie is a CV writer and interview coach who specialises in helping those in the military and their spouses. She frequently features as an expert on BBC local radio and has been nominated in the 2013 UK Mumpreneur Awards…


S BOTH a military wife and CV consultant, I am often asked by my clients how Armed Forces spouses can create a strong CV. On paper it can often look as though we have followed a chequered career path, frequently moving, sometimes undergoing several career changes and never really sticking at anything for any length of time. My own CV is testament to this; after 13 years following my dream career in the film industry, I had a major change of direction after

giving birth to my first child. I now run my own business – a pretty unexpected change in professional direction, but not an uncommon story for a military spouse. Make the most of it The advice I always give clients is don’t hide anything on your CV. If your life as an Army partner has involved moving around the country (or the world), changing jobs and working in positions with little relevance to your qualifications, explain this. Put a positive spin on this in your

Top 5 tips for the perfect CV 1. Keep it to two pages. Any more than this and you risk it simply not being read. The only exception to this is complex medical CVs 2. Put some thought into the style and layout, but no gimmicks! Nothing puts off a prospective employer more than a “flashy” and over-designed CV

3. Include a well-constructed and informative personal profile at the start, which gives a snapshot of your skills and experience but leaves the reader wanting to know more. Try to pack it full of search engine-friendly keywords 4. Use bullet-pointing rather than prose for your career history as it’s far more likely to be read properly

5. Don’t waste space. You only have two pages, so fill them wisely with vital information. There is no need to list all your exam results, and your personal interests section should be a maximum of one line

Military wife and CV guru Joanna


CV and turn what an employer could view as a disadvantage into an asset. Make the most of the wide experience and diverse skillset you have acquired whilst successfully balancing a challenging home life. Spell this out to an employer, be proud of what you have achieved; they should respect you for it (and if they don’t, maybe it’s not the right job for you after all). a Visit to find out more. Joanna is offering a free covering letter, worth £15.99, to anyone who mentions Army&You when placing an order.

FIVE lucky Army&You readers can win a free in-depth CV review from Joanna. See our competition rules on page three for details of how to enter. Mark postal entries “CV”.


winter 2013 Army&You 39


Preparing for life’s journey

PAY ONLY 10% OF THE FEES, AROUND £830 PER TERM* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2014/15. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.



Currently Archant Best British Boarding School BOYS 7 - 18 with boarding from 9 Tel: 01600 710433

GIRLS 7 - 18 with boarding from 9

Tel: 01600 711104

40 Army&You winter 2013




4. Once your application is submitted, if you don’t get a

With lots of experience in interviewing candidates for posts at AFF, we asked our Director Personnel, Bex Valentine, to share her top tips for job seekers…

5. If you’re invited to interview, confirm your attendance

1. Consider that you will leave an impression from the moment you pick up the phone to a potential future employer 2. Read all information supplied with the job advert – it might answer some of the questions you have and spare you an embarrassing call with the employer!


ASAP. Read the invite carefully; if you have any questions about the process, call the employer to discuss

6. At interview, listen carefully to the questions and answer all parts – this might sound obvious, but it’s easy to stray from the question, especially if you’re nervous. If you need something repeating, ask the panel – it’s not a problem! 7. If you’re not invited to attend an interview or are unsuccessful at one, ask for feedback; it’s perfectly acceptable to do so. Some employers may not be able to provide this as some vacancies will attract hundreds of applications, but it doesn’t hurt to ask and could prove really useful.

3. Follow instructions and provide what’s asked for – don’t forget to spellcheck. Remember, employers use your application form to shortlist for interview – be clear what you could bring to the role and tailor your application to the job description


confirmation of receipt, check it has arrived. Many employers will conduct their recruiting business via email. Check your junk box regularly

At AFF, we are committed to making the application process informative. We are happy to answer any questions potential applicants might have and are dedicated to providing constructive feedback to people who weren’t shortlisted or successful at interview. Roles at AFF are many and varied, including full- and part-time, homeand office-based. Keep an eye on our website – – and our social media to view current vacancies or sign up to our e-News.

BETTER CHECKS, BETTER FOR YOU The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) that has replaced the Criminal Record Bureau allows you to take your checks certificate with you from job-to-job. The DBS has created two videos – available via YouTube – which explain how the updated service can benefit you and your employer. For more information, log on to www. or send an email to AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist, Caroline Mayne, at

Flexible business – sign up! TWO Army wives have teamed up to bring you a business opportunity. All That Glitters currently has several stores and a website selling jewellery and accessories at affordable prices and now they are launching their @ Home party business. There’s three different ways to get involved, depending on how much you want to invest. The starter pack can earn you a profit of over £200. You own all of your own stock, so you don’t have to wait for commission to be paid – the money you take is yours. If you don’t want to part with any cash upfront you can become an agent and earn your starter pack rather than paying for it. All That Glitters is looking to recruit a consultant on every patch, so get in touch now. Go to


All That Glitters @ Home is giving away a Carrie necklace, worth £18, to one lucky Army&You reader. See page three for how to enter. Mark postal entries “Glitter”.

Your AFF Employment, Training, Allowances & Money Specialist Do you have any concerns, questions or feedback to give us on employment, training, allowances and money issues? Contact our AFF Specialist, Caroline Mayne, on 07799 045955 or a This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity

winter 2013 Army&You 41

Please check our website for a constantly updated list of jobs for which we are recruiting now.

{ EMPLOYMENT & TRAINING } Masters to museum: Julia in her role at Gainsborough’s House in Sudbury, the childhood home of 18th century artist Thomas Gainsborough

a If you would like more information about higher education, contact our Employment, Training, Money & Allowances Specialist, Caroline Mayne,

Picture: Gainsborough’s House



to distance learning

Museum Assistant and former AFF East Anglia Co-ordinator Julia Smith considers higher education options and shares her experience of distance learning whilst following the flag…


WO years ago I started a Masters degree by distance learning – definitely the only option given that we moved twice during the course. If you think this might be for you, the best way to prepare is to thoroughly research the possibilities.

WHY? A degree could lead you to work in a field you are passionate about, either now or in preparation for when your spouse leaves the Army. I started looking at a career in museums and galleries as I wanted to work in an area that really fascinated me, and chose a Masters as it’s essential for those wanting to enter this sector.

FINDING YOUR COURSE Don’t assume that you are not eligible to apply because you don’t have the qualifications needed; check whether the university will accept professional experience in lieu of A Levels or secondary qualifications, or research an access course. The Open University is a large provider of distance learning courses and offers flexible options. I opted for a distance learning course from the University of Leicester because

of the reputation of the department, and they were willing to send the course packages to me in Germany.

DEDICATED SPACE Receiving the parcels was always exciting but then the hard work began! One of the best tips I received was to set up a dedicated workspace that encourages you to study. The kitchen table just won’t do if you need to clear everything off each time in order to work. If you don’t have the advantage of a spare room, then an organised and uncluttered desk will do the job. Whilst distance learning requires lots of self-discipline, you will usually be offered tutors to help with any questions or issues. You may be required to attend the university sometimes, so do consider this if you’re likely to be posted overseas. I remember feeling quite frustrated about being unable to easily access specialist books. It was too costly and time consuming to make a special visit, so do plan ahead.

THE COST It’s easy to underestimate the time and cost of a degree. It’s tricky to earn whilst you study and certain sectors require lots

of work experience. I went to the Imperial War Museum for a work placement. It was fantastic experience and helped to put everything I was learning into context, but it was completely unpaid. Don’t let the rise in tuition fees put you off, but do research what you’re entitled to and factor in the cost of the degree. If you haven’t accessed student finance before, you can apply for a loan to cover the tuition fees. Check your eligibility for a grant or see if there are any smaller pots of money available through your institution or from external organisations.

IT’S ALL WORTHWHILE Studying for a degree under any circumstances will require dedication, money and time. Fortunately I feel that our investment has already proved worthwhile. Since graduating I have started a job in a small museum and hope to remain in the sector wherever the flag may lead.

Find out more online ; UK student finance ; Student loans mythbusting ; The Open University ; Open & Distance Learning Quality Council

winter 2013 Army&You 43

MONEY&YOU { MONEY&YOU } IT’S YOUR PRIVILEGE DID you know the Armed Forces & Veterans Privilege MasterCard® offers up to ten per cent cashback for Service families and veterans? The AF&V Card is accepted at more than 35 million retailers and ATMs globally and is pay-as-you-go, so it carries no risk of getting into debt. It also gives you free membership to Armed Forces & Veterans Estates, an organisation offering exclusive savings on property. AF&V supports Service charities. For further information, visit

AID AVAILABLE ARMED Forces families have been reminded that they may be entitled to access free legal aid. Applicants are meanstested, but the MOD believes military families are reluctant to seek professional advice as it is perceived as too expensive. However, almost 50 per cent of people qualify for free legal aid, with many more eligible for assistance. For details, email or call 01980 615973.

PAX changes incoming YOU should be aware that there will be some changes to the personal accident and optional life and critical illness insurance, commonly known as PAX, in January 2014. At the same time the PAX personal accident premium will increase by ten per cent, the first increase since 2011. Enhancements to the package reflect advances in medical treatment, as well as changes to the type of injuries sustained by plan members. Exclusions to the policy remain unchanged. If your soldier already has Service Life Insurance and

PAX, they will automatically be insured under the new scheme for the same level of cover purchased. If your soldier isn’t insured, it’s worth considering. It is a personal choice whether to purchase independent insurance cover – MOD provides benefits under the Armed Forces Pension Schemes, the War Pension Scheme and the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme. You can find more information at www. or

Financial force at your service HAVE you discovered the new MoneyForce website yet? Designed specially for you and your soldier, it’s packed with useful info and there are some great tools to help you with all things financial. The site is easy to understand, free to use, completely impartial and there are no adverts or links to any external financial providers. It highlights the sorts of financial considerations that you and your soldier should be making at different stages of your life and career:

£ Managing money – borrowing, saving, budgeting, spending and planning for the future; £ Your soldier’s career – pay and career structures, allowances, deployments and assignments; £ Life and family – setting up home, marriage, divorce, children; £ Managing crises – information and guidance for tough times; £ Tools – budget, car cost and credit card calculators; £ Get help now – links to organisations that can help alcohol, debt and emotional problems, war pensions and compensation. l

JOINING BACK UP IT is not uncommon after a round of redundancies for some Service personnel to re-enter the Armed Forces, either in active service or full-time Reserve service. Do you have to repay the redundancy lump sums? How lovely it would be to give a straightforward “yes” or “no”, but life in the military just isn’t that simple. The Special Capital Payment for those on AFPS75 and Compensation Lump Sum for those on AFPS05 (that is the additional redundancy lump sum) is repayable in full, or in part, if you are re-employed on pretty much any form of full or part-time service. The amount repayable is calculated using the value of your soldier’s lump sum and the number of days between redundancy and re-employment. Full details of the formulae and a list of exceptions to this rule can be checked on the Forces Pension Society website All Armed Forces personnel, serving or retired, and any family member with connections to a Service person are eligible to join the Forces Pension Society and enjoy the membership benefits. If you would like to join, call 020 7820 9988. 44 Army&You winter 2013



School report THE waitingGAME APPLYING FOR A SCHOOL PLACE WITHOUT AN ADDRESS At the AFF Germany Families’ Conference earlier this year, Minister for Defence Personnel, Welfare and Veterans, Mark Francois MP was asked if he would look into the allocation of school places in advance of moving to an area. Although your soldier’s unit address can be used, AFF is aware that this is not always suitable. In some cases, Local Authorities are advising to wait until you are actually living in the area. WHAT IS AFF DOING TO HELP? Our AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott, has written a report which has been sent to Government ministers and other education agencies to highlight an issue in the new Schools Admissions Code 2012 – which is worded in such a way that it allows for no forward planning by families. You can view the policy document at AFF has asked that the Minister speaks to other Government departments and experts to change the phrasing of the code to help you. EVIDENCE NEEDED If you are experiencing difficulties in trying to apply for school place without an address, please email Lucy at

The brand new Pupil Information Profile (PIP), specifically designed for Service children, provides your child’s new teacher with immediate, relevant electronic information about your young one. Lucy Scott, AFF Education & Childcare Specialist, tells us more…


IP informs schools to ensure that your child starts their new school with all the appropriate information on file. AFF has been involved in the consultation process from the beginning, along with representatives from far flung countries such as Kenya and the United States of America. Schools in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland as well as Service Children’s Education (SCE) schools overseas have also inputted into its development. I met with Olivia Denson, Assistant Director Children & Young People (CEAS), who initiated the MOD project, which will be widely available in the New Year.

She explained how the PIP will smooth the transition from school to school: “The responses have been overwhelmingly positive. We urge schools to use this to supplement and improve the quality of transfer information for Service children as PIP is relevant and appropriate.” GET INVOLVED You can help by letting your school know as early as possible when you are moving. Pop in and ask if they are aware of PIP – and if you need any further information you can email me at uk or contact the Directorate of Children and Young People by logging on to uk/directoratechildren-andyoung-people

JANUARY CENSUS 2014 WHAT: The Government collects information on pupils and schools via a census three times a year WHEN: The spring census for schools will take place on Thursday, January 16, 2014 WHY: This date is important as it is when schools can apply for the Service Premium – extra money to support military children

YOUR AFF EDUCATION & CHILDCARE SPECIALIST Do you have any concerns, questions or feedback to give us on education and childcare issues? Contact our AFF Specialist, Lucy Scott, on 07527 492869 or xx Army&You winter 2013

WHO: You can help by ensuring that your children’s school knows that you or your partner are in the military HOW: Pop in as soon as possible and let the school administrator know you are a Service family WHERE: We had lots of information on how schools have been spending this money in the autumn edition of Army&You – view our archive at






WHERE? @ArmyandYou

Independent day and boarding school for boys and girls aged 4 to 18

Entrance Test Days 1 February 2014 – Years 3 to 10 8 February 2014 – Sixth Form For further information on our competitive fees and Forces discount please contact Julia Simpson, admissions Secretary, telephone: 01833 696030 or email:

B E PA RT O F T H E T E A M Co-educational day & boarding: ages 13 –18 telephone: 01823 328204 > A Woodard School

Barnard CaStle SChool | Barnard CaStle | CountY durham dl12 8un

48 Army&You winter 2013



t e k c i T to ride

in demand, you With an increase children’s ur may find that yo ot be as close n ay school place m ld like. ou to home as you w can be an it For some parents getting your st ju e su everyday is ere, Lucy Scott, kids to school. H hildcare C AFF Education & the basics on es Specialist, outlin tlement… ti en t or free transp


e UIDANCE from th ucation Ed r fo Department d Wales an d an (DfE) for Engl neral states that the ge t is two en m re measu walking distance ht, and eig r de un aged miles for children and ildren aged eight three miles for ch ilar. In gulations are sim over. Scotland’s re ed at the ages are divid Northern Ireland, y school. the end of primar t the shortest This distance is no d by road but the distance travelle ng which a child, shortest route alo lk necessary, may wa accompanied as e lud inc ay m d an safety with reasonable idleways. footpaths and br why you may This could explain e nt distances by th be quoted differe d an ns io iss m ad (LA’s) Local Authority’s transport teams.


Army&You has a family ticket for this fantastic show to give away, courtesy of Db Promotions UK. The lucky winner can choose the opening night of any venue. See page three for details on how to enter. Mark postal entries “Disney”.

ar o make it very cle The regulations als h ac ld be able to re that children shou m the school day fro school to benefit stresses from the without strains or d asonable safety an journey and in re comfort. arest appropriate If you chose the ne u u are living and yo school to where yo ay, aw er ed a place furth have been allocat rt. po le for free trans you may be eligib

ICE-COOL PRIZE REV up for non-stop fun with four of your favourite stories in Disney-On-Ice presents World of Fantasy. Thrill to high-speed stunts as the crew of Disney/Pixar’s CARS race across the ice. Dive into The Little Mermaid’s enchanting undersea kingdom. Enter the mystical world of Pixie Hollow with Tinker Bell and the Disney Fairies. And witness the Toy Story gang escape from Sunnyside Daycare – the toys are back in town! With dazzling skating and special effects, don’t miss the chance to gain a lifetime of memories! Service families get 20 per cent off selected shows. Go to www.dbpromotions. for show times and prices or call 0121 308 4511.

tails bsite for more de Check your LA we ’s issue with the LA and if you have an hool ld contact their sc decision, you shou ch ea d they will assess transport team an case individually. hool believe that all sc Here at AFF, we ss ce ould have easy ac aged children sh to school. ol ncerns about scho If you have any co at e m children, contact transport for your

USEFUL LINKS to-school Search for hometransport at: k k v.u go d. lan ot .uk ov n.g io at uc www.ed



Powder is the scarf firm for all occasions. Their autumn/winter range features uniquely designed accessories in a range of colours. Powder’s new Harris range includes Berry, Amber or Ice Mix and the chic tweedy look is perfect with a cream coat or jumper. Powder also stocks arm warmers and hats from just £10. Visit A&Y and Powder are giving five readers the chance to win a Harris Scarf in a colour of your choice, worth £20 each. See the how to enter box on page three. Mark postal entries “Scarf”.

winter 2013 Army&You 49

WOW! Boarding in a top Surrey school for ÂŁ4,483 per term. l Boarding and Flexi Boarding for boys and girls aged 7-18 l Huge range of extra-curricular sports and activities l Excellent academic results l Situated in 260 acres of parkland near Reigate, Surrey


Sat 15th March and Sat 17th May 9.00 – 10.30am Gatton Park Reigate Surrey RH2 0TD 01737 649001 @RAASchoolGatton

Co-educational, day & boarding school for ages 3-18 in South-East England

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First Class Teaching. Broad and stimulating education. Supportive, welcoming family atmosphere. Diverse range of extra-curricular opportunities. Please call for futher details of our Open Mornings Strong academic results at 11+, GCSE and A Level Small classes offering close individual attention Excellent pastoral care with a Christian ethos Modern en-suite boarding accommodation Exceptional facilities including 500-seat Theatre, Sports Complex and Indoor Swimming Pool Generous Forces Bursaries available

For more information or to arrange a visit: T: +44 (0)1843 572931 E: Ramsgate, Kent CT11 7AE 50 Army&You winter 2013

For further information please contact Mrs Gayle Webb Tel: 01985 210160 Email:





HE Forces Project is part of Family Friends, a charity in Berkshire which provides shortterm professional support to those with children up to 18 years who are going through difficult times, at home or at school. The organisation recognises that Service families face a unique set of challenges, so they work in partnership with local services and the Army Welfare Service to provide help and assistance. They help to ensure positive outcomes for families and strengthen links between children, their schools and the Forces community. The Forces Project is staffed by Kate

Saunders, Michele Cook and Anna Morgan-Cox. Kate explains: “Being a parent can present all sorts of challenges and sometimes a listening ear or a helping hand during a difficult time can make all the difference. “No matter how small your concern might be, if it’s worrying you, it’s important to us.” WEAR WITH PRIDE The introduction of a Home and Away T-shirt Project for those facing deployment provided a positive activity. Families created a design inspired by “what’s special/different/great about my family” for both for the child and the deploying adult. T-shirts are being proudly worn by mums and dads off duty in Afghanistan and cherished by children at home. One mum, Rachel, describes how it has helped. “I have nothing but praise for Family Friends and all the support they have offered me over the last few months,” she says. “My children were thrilled with the

SLEEP A-GO GO PERFECT for snuggling into this winter, the Merino Kids Go Go Bag™ is a 100 per cent natural baby sleeping bag that helps establish sleep routines and might even prevent your baby waking in the night. Made from merino wool, the soft and silky fabric will keep your baby cool in summer and warm in winter, reducing the risk of overheating. You won’t need sheets or blankets, simply a layer of clothing within the bag. Your child can move around the cot, while remaining warm in their bedding. The unique

T-shirts they made with their daddy before his deployment. I have found the charity very compassionate and understanding.” A Unit Welfare Officer who has used the service adds: “On several occasions our welfare team has sought advice and has been given clear and concise support. “This is a fantastic organisation that provides an unquantifiable level of support to both welfare teams and families. It’s an absolute must.” Family Friends can also help with many other issues such as stress, isolation, depression, disability and troubles with teenagers to name just a few.


vent function means you can simply transfer your child from car seat or buggy straight into their cot or bed.


l For 20% off Merino Kids Standard Weight Go Go Bags™ use code MF20 at

Army&You has teamed up with Merino Kids UK to offer one lucky reader the chance to win a Go Go Bag™ worth £65. See page three for more details. Mark postal entries “Merino”.

winter 2013 Army&You 51

Explore the Magic of Kerala South India

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Tailor-made package tours at affordable rates! Get some much needed R&R on South India’s finest beaches, luxury houseboats, elephant rides and hillside retreats. All our tours are tailor-made to suit YOUR needs, just tell us your preferences and we will create the right trip for YOU!

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Legal Advice and Guidance You Can Trust... Forces Law Network Solicitor members offer legal services to serving and retired personnel throughout the world (including Reservists, the Civil Service and their families). Initial advice and guidance is FREE with 10% discount thereafter. Our reputation is well supported with over 60 years’ experience in legal assistance to the Armed Forces.

0845 6011260 52 Army&You winter 2013


Photos © Crown copyright 2013

Litigation Personal Injury Courts Martial Criminal Law Family Law

Photos © Crown copyright 2013

Forces Employment Resettlement Grants Wills and Probate Lasting Powers of Attorney House Sale or Purchase (LSAP)





ERVICE pupils rose to the challenge by taking part in Mindsets, an Outward Bound Trust programme designed to develop participants’ confidence and resilience. Youngsters from Beeslack Community High School near Edinburgh began with a challenging mountain rescue exercise in the Pentland Hills, followed by a residential programme. The course comprised a series of progressively more adventurous challenges, culminating in a threeday expedition in the West Highlands, including an ascent of Ben Nevis by the older children. The programme helped develop

the students’ skills, fostering greater determination to achieve their goals. Back in school, teachers observed a positive change in attitude and behaviour, with graduates more determined to succeed and younger children displaying more independence and confidence. The strong bond that now exists between the pupils will help them to cope with the effects of deployment of a family member. l The programme was jointly funded by the MOD and Midlothian Council. If you or your child’s school would like to know more, send an email to or call 01931 740000.

Review: Skylanders Swap Force THERE will be few Service families out there untouched by the Skylanders phenomenon. Whether parents persuaded to procure a “portal” or relatives recruited to find rare characters, most adults are all too aware of Activision’s hit video game franchise. Combining platformstyle gameplay with collectable toys that come to life in a game, the original two releases caught the imagination of younger gamers. The arrival of a third installment ahead of Christmas – Skylanders Swap Force – suggests this playground fad is unlikely to fade any time soon.

However, the series’ popularity should not just be attributed to children’s desire to collect. The fact of the matter is Swap Force is actually a very good game that makes great use of innovative technology. Indeed, this latest offering is the pick of the bunch. The title’s new play pattern – “swapability” – lets gamers interchange the top and bottom halves of 16 characters, mixing and matching their powers and moves. In a world of inanimate Moshi Monsters and Match Attax, Skylanders Swap Force represents enduring entertainment and fantastic value for money.


Fun and games Set up by two military wives, Emily Hewitt and Clare Malec, Tinder & Tide sells a range of practical products from sleeping bags to sling shots, kites to collapsible kettles, to ensure that you are properly equipped for life in the open air. Each item has been selected because it is durable and looks good too. Visit Army&You and Tinder & Tide are giving away a rounders set worth £24.99. To enter see page three. Mark postal entries “Rounders”. winter 2013 Army&You 53


Picture: Corporal

, MO Andy Reddy RLC

ht D Crown copyrig



ARLIER this year I wrote about AFF’s planned work with Reserve Force (RF) families and units to look at support for this geographically-dispersed section of the military community. Never before has an article I have written produced such feedback. Concerned Regimental Operations Support Officers came to us outlining the brilliant work they do on behalf of their families. Newsletters outlining regimental activities, information for families and calendars of events came flooding in. I am very pleased to come back to you – eating a little bit of humble pie – to say that is exactly what our work at AFF discovered. Challenges do exist, and I am sure no one would dispute this. Meeting the needs of the RF families especially

during times of mobilisation where you may live many hundreds of miles from your RF soldier’s unit is not easy. However, where there are challenges, there are also solutions to be found. The key message to any RF family is to make yourself known to your soldier’s unit. There is value in identifying yourself as part of the RF population, so that the unit can look out for you. Reaching out At our AFF Families’ Conference in 2012, more support for RF families was a hot topic. As a result, we have developed a three-pronged approach to making sure your needs are not forgotten: u AFF offers bespoke marketing packs which can be sent to any RF unit to help support families

u Our AFF Co-ordinators in all areas of the UK now have extra hours to try to reach out to more RF families and raise awareness through units u AFF UK Director is gathering evidence to take to brigades so that RF families are considered at every step alongside the needs of Regular units’ issues. More communication Here at AFF we are committed to providing the best level of support to RF families that we can. To help you, AFF needs evidence. If you are a Reserve Force family and you have an issue or concern or perhaps want to share the positives of how your unit has supported you, please contact your local AFF Co-ordinator via our website – – or email

CONTACT AFF UNITED KINGDOM AFF Central Office, IDL 414, Ramillies Building, Floor 1, Zone 7, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ. T: 01264 3823244 CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CO-ORDINATOR: REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345

SOUTH EAST 07733 147001

EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807

NORTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492863


LONDON 07901 778948

SOUTH HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803

OXFORDSHIRE 07787 091883


SALISBURY PLAIN 07527 492783

YORKSHIRE 07557 977141

SCOTLAND 07780 093115

SOUTH WEST 07787 301826

WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290

WALES 07527 492868

54 Army&You winter 2013

AFF NORTHERN IRELAND Building 301, Welfare Centre, Thiepval Barracks, BFPO 801 T: 028 9226 6875 or Mil 66875 F: 028 9226 6117 or Mil 66117 NI CO-ORDINATOR 07729 159013



HOME ALONE IN BFC It’s easy to forget that Servicemen and women often deploy from Cyprus. AFF Director Cyprus, Phil Robertson, tells us how you will be supported during an operational tour…

YOUR ENTITLEMENTS Wherever you are based your station can claim the Families Welfare Grant of £4.40 per person, per week to be used for welfare purposes during the deployment. There are other allowances which kick If you have any queries on any of these allowances, speak to your unit admin office or email us here at AFF Cyprus at

CONTACT AFF CYPRUS Room 129, Block E, Episkopi Support Unit, BFPO 53 T: 00 357 2596 2110 or Local: 25 962110 F: Local 25 211677 Regional Manager: E: CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CO-ORDINATOR: ESBA: WSBA: Find us on Facebook or tweet us @affcyprus

in when your soldier is on operations which you might be entitled to. Check your eligibility with your admin office. ARE OTHER L LONGER SEPARATION ALLOWANCES ALLOWANCE: The rate WHICH KICK IN WHEN you are paid at depends YOUR SOLDIER IS ON on the number of days OPERATIONS WHICH the serving person YOU MIGHT BE has been away for (it is ENTITLED TO cumulative over the course of his or her time in the Army). You can see your accumulated number of days on the bottom right of the serving person’s pay slip. L CONCESSIONARY TRAVEL FOR IMMEDIATE FAMILIES (CTF): This allows you to claim the expense of a return flight to the UK for each member of your household or, if approved in advance, you can reverse it to have up to two close family members fly out to see you. Ordinarily you should use the © Crown copyright 2013


F YOU have been in Cyprus for a while, you may have a job here and any kids will probably be settled at school so it makes sense not to move to the UK when your soldier deploys. Akrotiri and Ay Nik have well established support networks and if you live in Dhekelia or Episkopi, it’s likely that your unit will arrange meetings and events during the deployment. However, if you’re not with a large unit make sure you let your welfare staff know your soldier is deployed, it’s their job to stay in contact with you.

Trooper, but if a civilian flight is cheaper you may be able to travel that way. If the serving spouse is due to be away for more than 119 days you can claim one CTF journey and if the deployment is for more than 182 days, you can claim two. L CONTRIBUTION IN LIEU OF COUNCIL TAX: All personnel living in SFA who deploy on ops are entitled to a rebate. This should be done automatically. L LOCAL OVERSEAS ALLOWANCE (LOA): Married personnel retain full LOA so long as you stay in Cyprus. However, if you choose to go back to the UK for the duration of the tour you will not be paid LOA. L OP ALLOWANCE: This is based on a daily rate and is paid at the end of the deployment. Entitlement depends on where your soldier has been deployed. THERE

F&C ENQUIRIES IN CYPRUS AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth advisers are the only people at AFF qualified to provide advice on issues of citizenship and visas. If you are based in Cyprus with questions on these topics, please contact our F&C Assistant, Michelle Prince-Burnett by emailing

In the meantime you may be able to find information on our F&C webpages at

winter 2013 Army&You 55



in BFG I

N response to increasing demand, British Forces Early Years Service (BFEYS) is now registering nannies in BFG and western Europe, offering parents an alternative form of registered childcare. Finding the right kind of registered childcare can be a difficult decision as you weigh up the pros and cons – whether that’s home-based (registered childminders and nannies) or group based (nurseries, pre-schools, extended day care). Whatever your choice, using registered services means that essential standards have been met. It also allows for Working Tax Credit and employer voucher schemes – a Government initiative designed to help working parents pay for childcare. You can convert part of your salary into vouchers before your usual tax and National


Insurance contributions are taken. Visit for information on the Armed Forces Childcare Scheme administered through Sodexo. In BFG and western Europe, BFEYS is the organisation responsible for the regulation of childcare provision on military premises or in Service Families Accommodation (SFA). If you are a childminder, you must register with BFEYS otherwise you can jeopardise your licence to occupy SFA. If you are a nanny, you can register on the voluntary part of the MOD Childcare Register. It’s a great way to show your employer that you have a commitment to development and a high standard of care. Plus if you are registered, parents are able to claim tax relief on their childcare costs.

CARS Changes are being made to the charges within the BFG vehicle licensing, testing and fuel coupon schemes. Most BFG vehicle owners will be better off and tax-free benefits will continue throughout the drawdown. The changes aim to include the introduction of an individual fuel card.

SHOPPING The system for tax-free shopping in BFG has been revised. If you’re thinking of making that special purchase, there is now a choice of three different forms depending on the value of your item. Each pack costs €3 and your Official Procurement Agency will be able to advise you which shops deal with which system.

xx Army&You winter 2013

WHY CONSIDER USING A NANNY? Employing a nanny to care for your children in your own home means they can focus solely on your children and it may be a more costeffective option

if you have two or three children. You have some potential flexibility; some nannies are willing to work different hours and part-days, which nurseries may not be able to offer. If you employ a nanny, you become an employer and need to know your responsibilities. Refer to BFG Standing Order 3217 for details. HOW IS MY NANNY REGISTERED? Contact your local BFEYS office and once you have returned the completed application form, an inspector will arrange a visit to check the nanny has: l An EHIC card or medical insurance. Unless a nanny is a dependant, they are not entitled to use the medical centre and facilities on camp l Permission from the Housing & Community Support Officer (HCSO) to live in your accommodation l Level 2 childcare qualification (a local childminding course will be accepted) l Disclosure and Barring Service checks (previously CRB clearance).

For more info on BFEYS, visit or call +49 (0)2161 472 4434. If you are resident in England, contact Ofsted ( If you live on a base outside of western Europe, contact SSAFA ( @ArmyandYou


Auf wiedersehen TO APPLICATION ANGST Applying for your German quarter needn’t be stressful. Lisa Horder, AFF’s Paderborn Co-ordinator, outlines some handy hints to ensure your move runs smoothly…


because your child has Special HEN applying for your Educational Needs SFA in Germany, you will l If you’re expecting – save time by need to complete form including a letter from your Medical 1132 and return it to your Centre confirming the date your baby is Welfare Office. Download the form from due. Your entitlement could change and the Germany pages at you may need a bigger house when junior Remember to include as much is born information as possible; it’s fine to send l If you have pets. Some quarters in an attachment with further details if Germany are rented by the Army and the necessary. landlord might not allow animals. If you Often, families fail to provide vital don’t declare them and are allocated one information about their needs. When it of these properties you will not be comes to allocating a house, able to move in. the details you provide Completing your form will affect the offer you HIVE HELP correctly helps to avoid receive. It’s important FOR MOVERS delays. to tell them: HIVE Europe’s new guide On The housing l If you or your The Move tells you everything you department in soldier don’t need to know about returning to live Germany will drive – some SFA the UK. The booklet is packed with try their best to are far from the useful information and includes all allocate you a barracks the updated policy and procedure suitable SFA but l If you or anyone updates to support families as they don’t have a in the family Germany draws down. Visit crystal ball. has disabilities – If you don’t tell them, especially if your house they won’t know! needs adaptations. For more hints and tips about Complete AGAI 108 as soon moving to Germany, log on to our as any additional needs become website at or give us a apparent call on 0049 (0) 5221 297 9644. l If you need to be close to school

CONTACT AFF GERMANY Block 2, Waltgeri Strasse 85, Herford 32049 T: 0049 (0) 5221 297 9644 E: or visit the AFF website at CONTACT YOUR LOCAL CO-ORDINATOR: GUTERSLOH HOHNE 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 0049 (0)1522 547 7710

PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741

STRONG BONDS IN BFG FAMILIES in BFG have benefitted from The Strong Bonds Programme, which aims to strengthen relationships in order to prevent a relationship crisis. It’s had a significant impact on the welfare of families in Hohne Garrison, especially heading into a period of deployment and drawdown. At the core of the programme are informal community-based courses built around a meal, including “the marriage course”, “parenting children course” and “parenting teenagers course” as well as a “dealing with distance” module discussing the emotional cycle of deployment. One Army spouse says: “It was so good for us to see that our feelings were normal in the run up to deployment and that there were positive things we could do to avoid more difficulties.” As well as courses in Hohne and Fallingbostel, Strong Bonds offers community activities as well as fun weekends that help families bond and have a break from Army life. Email strongbondsbfg@, call Ruth Pyrke on 05051 962 2515, or visit the STRONG BONDS BFG page on Facebook.

Find us on Facebook or tweet us @affgermany

winter 2013 Army&You 57



Asking for HELP ARE YOU IN THE UK WITHOUT A VALID VISA? YOU ARE NOT ALONE. THE F&C TEAM RECEIVES CALLS EVERY MONTH FROM SPOUSES WHOSE DEPENDANT VISAS HAVE EXPIRED, BUT WE KNOW THAT THERE ARE MANY MORE OF YOU OUT THERE TOO SCARED OR EMBARRASSED TO ASK FOR HELP. KATHERINE HOULSTON, AFF’S FOREIGN & COMMONWEALTH SPECIALIST, ADVISES ON WHAT TO DO… PLEASE pick up the phone and call us. Here at AFF we offer a confidential service and our job is to help, not to inform on you. The alternative is to live a second-class existence: constantly worrying about being

found out, not being able to work, study or travel outside the UK. Whatever the reasons for your visa expiring – whether you forgot or didn’t have time to renew it or couldn’t afford the fee, we can offer advice and will

hopefully be able to assist you in applying for a new visa. If your child is a British citizen you have a right to remain; we can tell you which visa to apply for and can advise and assist with any supporting documents.



CITIZENSHIP APPLICATIONS Since October, spouses and soldiers wishing to naturalise as a British English language citizen now need to take both a Life in UK test and a B1 English Language test. This includes applications from spouses overseas, under the Crown Service rules. SETTLEMENT APPLICATIONS Spouses married to British Citizen soldiers who are applying for settlement (ILR or ILE) now need to complete both a Life in UK test and a B1 English language test. Spouses married to Commonwealth soldiers who have served for five years will NOT have to meet these new requirements if they already have a valid visa as a dependant. It is not necessary for spouses who qualify to take either a Life in UK test or an English language test,

58 Army&You winter 2013

Sala Tanoa

Sala’s visa expired in August 2012, but having to cope with a young baby whilst her husband was deployed in Afghanistan and then involved in Op Olympics meant she had little opportunity to renew it. I reassured her that she could not be removed from the UK as she was the primary carer of her British citizen child. She sent off the application form with her supporting statement explaining the circumstances and six weeks later was granted Leave to Remain. Sala explains: “Being without a visa was very difficult but now that I have one again I can travel home to see my family. I am very happy that it has all been sorted out.”

even if the application is made after 1st December. However, all spouses who are issued a visa under the new immigration rules to be introduced on 1st December will have to meet these new requirements. s

APPLICATIONS FROM SPOUSES OVERSEAS If your soldier is a British citizen and you are applying for a 27-month spouse visa, you do not have to meet this new requirement, you are only required to have taken an A1 English Language test. This is because although you are required to select the “settlement” option on the online form, you are not applying for ILE; you are applying for a 27-month visa. l Further information can be found on the F&C webpages at www.aff.


{ FOREIGN&COMMONWEALTH } AFF success story: Changes to policy domestic violence Following a sustained campaign by AFF and other Service charities, UKBA has agreed to change its policy regarding applications for Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) by spouses of soldiers who are victims of domestic violence. Katherine Houlston, AFF’s Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist, tells us more… THE BACKGROUND F&C spouses have always been disadvantaged by their soldier’s immigration status and have been prevented from applying for ILR because they were not considered to be coming to the UK to settle. WHAT DID AFF DO ABOUT IT? We wrote letters to ministers and pushed for the issue to be included in the Armed Forces Covenant. We made contact with nonmilitary organisations and raised the issue at both MOD and Home Office meetings.

has broken down as a result of the domestic violence. This change in policy will apply to spouses in the UK under the new Armed Forces immigration rules. At the time of going to press it was unclear whether the policy will extend to those spouses in the UK under the existing “transition” rules.

Your AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Assistant Do you have any concerns, questions or feedback on Foreign & Commonwealth issues? Contact our F&C Assistant, Michelle Prince-Burnett, on 07785 939626 or email The AFF team have been out and about representing your views. We visited F&C families in Cyprus to hear your concerns first-hand and we recently briefed the Fijian High Commissioner.

WHAT’S NEXT? AFF will seek clarification on the new policy and continue working to help spouses who will not qualify for ILR because the soldier has not served for four years.

WHO DOES THIS NEW POLICY APPLY TO? UKBA will now allow spouses of F&C soldiers to apply for ILR if the soldier has served for four years and if the marriage

HELP For details about this and other issues we are working on, go to the F&C webpages at

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winter 2013 Army&You 59

ARMY&ME LYDIA BAYLIS Singer/songwriter

My earliest military memory is of our quarters in Berlin – particularly the kitchen! I also remember seeing my uncles on Horse Guards Parade for the birthday parade. There were also lots of pictures of both my father and grandfather in uniform around the house. I think the greatest challenge and the greatest benefit of being part of a military family is the moving around! It is great as it teaches you to make friends easily and adapt to different surroundings and countries. But obviously it also involves saying goodbye and leaving friends behind. If I was in charge of the country and could do one thing to improve the lives of military families, it would be to try and raise funding and awareness to help support those affected by combat stress. There is so much to do to help soldiers’ families, but I have been learning a lot [about combat stress] recently with my work for Walk on Wales. For families separated by deployments, I think that listening to something hopeful and happy would suit best! Fleetwood Mac’s Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow is wonderful, upbeat and forward-looking, even if you “wake up and don’t want to smile”. If I was in charge of a Military Wives Choir for a day and had to pick one song for the ladies to sing, it would be Stand by Me. I know it’s a cliche, but it’s such a wonderful sentiment that reflects the support these women give everyday. It also lends itself perfectly to being sung by a choir! Growing up around the military has influenced some of my music. I have a song called Hollow Bones that is about soldiers’ experiences. It was partly influenced by my father’s memories of the Sir Galahad in the Falklands and how that incident has affected him since. 2014 will see me releasing my first album, A Darker Trace, and doing more touring around the UK. Very exciting times!

Lydia’s debut album, A Darker Trace, will be released in April 2014. Visit for more information or follow @LydiaBaylis

xx Army&You winter 2013


winter winter2013 2013 Army&You Army&You 61 xx


Easy stuffed peppers by James Martin These couldn’t be simpler. Serve as part of a platter of antipasti or alongside James’s sticky lamb chops for a crowd-pleasing lunch. Serves 4 B 1 yellow pepper, cut in half, seeds removed B 2 red peppers, cut in half, seeds removed B 1 orange pepper, cut in half, seeds removed B 1 red onion, cut into eighths B 2 tomatoes, cut into quarters B 8 small sprigs rosemary B 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil B Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ Gas 4. Place the peppers, cut-sides facing up, into a roasting tray. Add an onion eighth, a tomato quarter and a sprig of rosemary to each pepper. Season to taste with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then drizzle over the olive oil. Transfer the peppers to the oven and roast for 30-40 minutes until the peppers are tender and slightly blackened. Remove and serve hot, warm or at room temperature.

SATURDAY KITCHEN COOKING BIBLE is published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Hardback £20, eBook £11. Photography: Andrew Hayes-Watkins

62 Army&You winter 2013



Retail POSITIVE PLAY therapy In need of inspiration for some lastminute Christmas gifts? Look no further than A&Y’s handy guide...

IF you’ve ever raised an eyebrow at the curvaceous bodies or adult clothing adorning some well-known children’s dolls, this range may be just up your street. Lottie’s Hero Dolls have been designed to promote a positive

body image for young girls and were created after 18 months of research with experts including psychologists, nutritionists and, of course, parents. Each doll features a child-like body and lacks make-up, jewellery or high heels with the commendable aim of stopping girls from growing up too soon. Themes include a butterfly protector, karate champion, lighthouse keeper and even a pirate queen. Each doll costs £16.99.

Organic undies FEEL like treating the man in your life this Christmas? You could do a lot worse than certified organic cotton boxer briefs and T-shirts from Cock&Bull Menswear. Designed and made entirely in the UK, the stylish range includes boxers from £22 and T-shirts from £25. l

One for all FOR better or worse, onesies have become a fixture in wardrobes up and down the country and the All-in-One Company is looking to make the most of the trend with its customisable outfits. Whether you’re a fan of leopard print or bright colours or fancy adding a flourish to your onesie with a pair of animal ears, a tail or a mobile phone pocket, the firm’s garments can be designed online to be as outlandish as your imagination. Available for adults, children and even babies, these winter warmers will certainly make sure you stand out this season.

RO SOLE PGIVE yourVIDER feet a treat with SOLE’s Custom Footbeds. The innovative insoles mould to your feet and provide support to help deal with conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Available in different thicknesses for uses ranging from walking and running to cycling and sports, the range also includes an insulated set ideal for the extremeties of the winter weather. And at £38 per pair, SOLE’s off-the-peg inserts are much cheaper than custom-built orthotics. Visit for a full review. l

I Am Malala THE inspirational story of the girl who singlehandedly showed that the pen is mightier than the sword should be required reading for people of all ages. Since being shot in the head for championing

her right to education, Malala has become a global icon for peace and this is a gripping account of the remarkable 16-yearold’s journey so far. Available now, published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson. winter 2013 Army&You 63



Tell us about it!

If you feel strongly about something or have some positive feedback, get in touch – you don’t need to worry that it will affect your soldier’s career. Please include your name and address. They will not be revealed to anyone outside AFF without your permission. We do not print anonymous letters but are always happy to withhold your name and contact details.


GET IN TOUCH To have your say on the issues affecting you, send your letters or emails to the Editor at

Lack of support

Star letter Q The writer of this letter wins a £30 bouquet from Nursery Fresh Postal Flowers, to give or receive anywhere in mainland Britain. Nursery Fresh offers discounts to Army personnel and their families. Beautiful presentation bouquets can be sent anywhere in the UK by overnight carrier via our secure online shop www. If you prefer to arrange your own flowers for weddings, special occasions or Mess events, then Nursery Fresh can deliver wholesale quantities direct to your door with no minimum order. Log on to www. nurseryfresh. com to place your order or find out more. 64 Army&You winter 2013

I AM getting in touch to air my grievances about how differently spouses are treated when their soldiers are away in Canada or Kenya and so on compared to when they’re in Afghanistan. While I appreciate that in a war zone there are much greater risks and therefore cause for worry, I don’t think families whose soldier is abroad elsewhere should be cast aside as unimportant. When my husband was on ops, our welfare team laid on regular events. He’s now been sent to Canada for three-ish months (I say “ish” because we have had no briefing). We have no end date, no BFPO address and the soldiers have no internet access. There are a few shared phones which rarely have a signal. They have no eBluey facility and they go on a 36-day exercise during which there is absolutely no contact. I’m finding it much harder than when he was in Afghanistan. I raised my concerns with the welfare office and was pointed in the direction of a mums and tots group and Home-Start. This doesn’t help me with feelings of loss and anxiety, and what about those people who don’t have children? A friend of mine wrote on a Facebook page asking if anyone had any coping tips. She received abusive replies from other people with their soldier in Afghanistan, outraged that we should ask for support as though they were the only ones who deserved it. Is it such a ludicrous idea that we may be struggling too? And for our children, it doesn’t matter whether it’s three months or six, it’s still a long time to them. I strongly believe this is something which should be reviewed by the welfare system. Name & address supplied

Response from Brig John Donnelly, Directorate Personal Services (Army): I am concerned that you do not feel that you are receiving the required levels of welfare support. It is normal for units deploying soldiers to either Canada or Kenya to run briefings for families before they go and also during the deployment. I would expect these briefings to cover the dates of the deployment, the postal addresses and other key information. Owing to the nature of operational deployments the Army provides additional funding and support for the rear parties and families. However, this

does not prevent rear parties organising briefings and activities for units deploying for training, to ensure that our families are properly supported. The eBluey system is available for Afghanistan, Kenya (BFPO 680) and Canada (BFPO 670). You should contact your Unit Welfare Officer to raise your concerns if you continue to feel you are not being properly supported during deployments. You will be reassured to know that members of my team are looking at how we can improve the support to the families of those training overseas to ensure that we are doing all that we can. @ArmyandYou



Capital prize

FANCY a trip to London this spring, but don’t want to break the bank? Look no further than the Victory Services Club for a family break in a club exclusively for the Armed Forces. With modern and attractive facilities right in the heart of London, the Victory Services Club offers impeccable service in a great location, and as a serving member of the Armed Forces, membership is free. Register online at and start planning your trip today! Army&You is thrilled to team up with the Victory Services Club to offer a two-night weekend break in a family room (two adults and one child under 12 years of age) including breakfast on both mornings, worth more than £160.

And as if that wasn’t enough, you will also receive a £50 Selfridges voucher and a VSC Teddy Bear! To enter, click the Giveaways tab at and follow the links, or send a postcard to Army&You, IDL 414, Ramillies Building, Floor 1, Zone 7, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ. Mark postal entries “VSC”. Full details can be found on page three.



WE have recently been posted to central London and my fouryear-old son needs his BCG (TB) vaccine. The NHS only immunises babies in “at risk” areas. I have been told by our Health Visitor that the NHS don’t do “catchup” immunisations to older children who move into the

area, so I am having to pay for a private session at £140! I know it’s not a great deal when compared to the value of your child’s health but I feel like I shouldn’t have to pay as we don’t have any choice about where we move to. Shouldn’t the Army be paying or should the NHS take our situation into account? Name & address supplied

Response from David Ross, Defence Consultant Advisor in Public Health: Vaccination against tuberculosis (TB) has always been fraught with difficulty because most of the population in the UK are at extremely low risk, with only small numbers at high risk. Contracting TB requires prolonged exposure to someone currently displaying symptoms and actively spreading the bacteria, usually by coughing. In practice, this someone needs to be a family member or at least a person you spend a great deal of time with. Only those families are at high risk but how do we reach them? UK vaccination policy is to target localised areas where TB rates are highest rather than vaccinate the entire population. In some areas, a blanket vaccination policy of children under the age of one is undertaken to ensure all high-risk children are offered the vaccine. One of these areas is London. General opinion is that the vaccine is more effective in young infants but even then it may not prevent an individual getting TB. While we understand why some people would still prefer to be vaccinated, we would not routinely recommend anyone who does not fall into these categories to do so. There may be other circumstances where we would consider it, such as travelling to a high-risk country such as Nepal. If an individual is concerned, they should discuss this with their GP or health visitor. Further information can be found at winter 2013 Army&You 65


te a n o i s as Comp ing t t e g Army t it righ IN MARCH this year I discovered a small lump on my breast. I’m only 31 and was fit and healthy so I wasn’t overly concerned but went to the doctors to have it checked out. Within minutes of the ultrasound starting it became obvious that they were looking at more than just a cyst, and I was immediately sent for a full mammogram and nine biopsies. They told me with almost near-certainty that I had breast cancer. To say that it was the biggest shock of my life would be an understatement. I just couldn’t comprehend that with two young children, no other signs of illness and no family history of breast cancer, it was happening to me. Somehow I managed to drive home, where I had to break the news to my husband. That would

become the one and only hospital attend appointments, to be on-hand for appointment he hasn’t attended with me. school drop-offs or be my hospital taxi I was facing a full year of treatment, service, whilst still allowing him to do a starting with chemotherapy, a worthwhile job for the Army. In our case, mastectomy and finally radiotherapy. the Regiment has put our welfare first The Regiment has tried everything within and have prioritised my health and my their power to support us throughout husband’s ability to support me whilst this difficult time. My husband was minimising the impact on his career. We immediately withdrawn from his realise this is an incredibly fortunate impending squadron command and his position to be in, and are thankful to tour of Afghanistan. This meant that I the chain of command for being so have had my partner by my side every understanding and flexible. step of the way. He remained in his Whilst I’m sure there are other families current job, which despite being very who have not experienced such a busy, gave him leave to attend every positive response to a compassionate chemotherapy session with me case and there are examples and remain at home in the of how the Army has “got it days following treatment wrong”, it is great to know eat It is gr hat when I was too poorly to that sometimes the Army wt to kno es the look after our children. does put the needs of im somet e We live in our own families first and gets h puts t s e Army i home and he has it very, very right. My l i of fam an hour commute to husband’s presence is needs first work. However, his undoubtedly helping me Regiment recognised in my battle against the that being located close to cancer, and his Regiment has our house would be beneficial, played a very significant part in and offered him a job working nearby. making that possible. It will be flexible enough for him to Kady Chatman


caring SIDE

ABOUT two weeks before the end of my boyfriend’s tour, I suffered a miscarriage. This was difficult enough but mixed in with being alone, I found it extremely tough. I felt like I should carry on and power through, after all it was only two weeks until he was 66 Army&You winter 2013

home. As an unmarried partner I didn’t think the Army would be able to help. I spoke to my boyfriend and told him what the doctors had said. I knew he would be upset if I didn’t tell him and I was torn between making him worry and making him feel like I didn’t

tell him anything. I decided it would be best if he knew. I could hear in his voice that he wanted to come home, but although I wanted him to I told him I felt I had to be brave. Neither of us was giving in! In the end, a chat with one of the lads and his troop

commander made his mind up and he was going to come home. I had a call from our welfare officer that afternoon. She told me they were going to do everything they could, but it may take longer than usual as it wasn’t a Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre request and had to go through his Commanding Officer for clearance. She also said that if I needed anything in the meantime to give her a ring. That call alone made me feel better. Within five days of telling him, we were working through it together. The house wasn’t tidy; I hadn’t had my nails done or a tan and, even worse,

no waxing! It wasn’t the whirlwind, posttour romantic reunion you hope for, but thanks to the welfare team and the regiment, it was exactly what we needed. We were too brave and stubborn, thinking they wouldn’t help us as we aren’t married, but we were wrong. I can’t thank them enough. Our welfare officer understood that not everyone gets married straight away and more people like to live together first. I’m lucky they looked at our circumstances rather than regulations. It’s comforting to know that they can help you, even if you aren’t married. Details supplied @ArmyandYou

Jeep with 速