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Army&You Winter 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Friends of the Forces Championing the charities crusading for Service families




What’s your ideal home?


How to boost your skills when posted overseas



KEEPING YOU IN TOUCH WelComE (Welfare Communications Everywhere) - providing communication services to link entitled UK Service personnel on operational duty with their families and friends back home.

Free* voicemail Family and friends based in the UK, Germany and Cyprus can leave voicemail messages for entitled UK Service personnel currently serving on operational duty overseas. Entitled deployed personnel can retrieve voicemail messages for free in-theatre. Entitled deployed personnel, family and friends can top-up WelComE Account Cards via the Online Account Manager. Visit for details.

WelComE Customer Contact Centre * Free when calling from a UK, German or Cypriot landline Mobile and international call costs may vary. Check with your mobile/service provider

10255 - Š Paradigm. All rights reserved. WelComE is a Registered Trademark of Astrium Limited.

Online top-up service


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

EDITOR Charlotte Eadie DEPUTY EDITOR Lisa Youd // 01264 382314 Army&You, IDL 414, Floor 1, Zone 6, Ramillies Building, Marlborough Lines, Monxton Road, Andover SP11 8HJ AFF UK CENTRAL OFFICE 01264 382324 // REGIONAL MANAGER SOUTH 07824 534345 // OXFORDSHIRE/M4 CORRIDOR 07787 091883 // HAMPSHIRE 07527 492803 //



REGIONAL MANAGER CENTRAL 07824 534357 // NORTH EAST 07557 977141 // WEST MIDLANDS 07557 977290 // EAST MIDLANDS 07587 456280 // EAST ANGLIA 07527 492807 // REGIONAL MANAGER NORTH 07585 333115 // NORTH WEST 07733 147001 // SCOTLAND 07780 093115 // WALES 07527 492868 // NORTHERN IRELAND 07729 159013 // AFF OVERSEAS 0044 (0)7795 596568 // EUROPEAN JOINT SUPPORT UNIT CANADA KENYA GERMANY 0049 (0)1525 7435450 // GUTERSLOH 0049 (0)176 254 85 762 // PADERBORN 0049 (0)1520 744 9741 // CYPRUS (00357) 2596 2289 // BRUNEI ESBA




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


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


COMPETITIONS To enter, click the giveaways link at www. One entry per household per giveaway. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Closing date for entries is 8 January 2017. Winners’ names will be published on the Army&You website SUBSCRIPTIONS Live in a hiring, your own home or on an isolated patch? Overseas? Parent or friend of a soldier? Army Reservist family? Leaving the Army but want to stay in touch? Find out the latest Army Families Federation news by subscribing to Army&You for free. Visit www. for details


winter 2016 Army&You 03

Post generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust


LONDON 07901 778948 //


their way of living (pages 44-47). We hear heart-warming stories from one family juggling three eight-month-old babies and another whose triplets joined the British Army at the same time (pages 24-25). There are lots of ways to get involved in your magazine – get in touch to share stories about your Army family, or why not get your youngsters to review the latest kids’ reads by taking part in the Army&You Book Club (page 30)? You can also enter our giveaways to win prizes including a luxury break for two and a driving experience. The Army&You team would like to wish all our readers a happy and peaceful festive season – we will be thinking of those families who are apart from their loved ones.

SOUTH EAST 07974 970696 //

Post generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers’ Charity;


ILITARY families have a resilient outlook and most of you cope happily throughout your soldier’s career. But Army life can present situations where extra support is required. Our charity feature (pages 16-17) investigates the practical help available to you from a variety of Service charities. 19 And speaking of being practical, what do you do when you’re posted overseas and unable to work? It can be an excellent time to undertake training and we look at some of the options available on pages 50-51. As ever, housing is a hot topic and earlier this year, AFF’s Big Survey received a record number of responses when we asked how you want to live as an Army family. Find out how we plan to use those results (page 9) and read how six Army families in different types of accommodation feel about

SOUTH WEST 07787 301826 //

Season’s greetings

WILTSHIRE 07527 492783 //

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

Queen Victoria School Dunblane Perthshire FK15 0JY

Contents WINTER 2016


19 Support for Sight Loss How a charity assisted a World War Two veteran 26 Boost Your Baby Budget Expecting? Here’s how to manage your money 32 Life After School What military children do after leaving the classroom 48 Don't Forget the Doctor Exploring the issues you face registering with a GP 52 A Postcard From... Learn all about life in Jamaica 53 Permit Puzzle What you need to know about Biometric Residence Permits


16 Friends of the Forces We check out the charities helping the Army community 24 The Power of Three Meet the Forces families raising triplets 28 The Summer of ‘17 How Outward Bound can benefit your teenagers 44 How We Live Army families share their housing hopes and dreams 50 Exotic Education Discover how to keep learning when posted overseas 55 Close Connections Why AFF works closely with local government


06 Our Specialists Find out what AFF’s team have been up to this quarter 09 A Word From... Sara Baade, AFF’s Chief Executive 11 Grapevine The latest bite-size bits of news from across the Army 56 Ask the Experts Our panel helps with money, employment and motoring 60 Giveaways Win a holiday, driving experience and more 62 Postbag Got a question about Army life? Get it answered here


SERVICE SUPPORTERS Find out how ABF The Soldiers' Charity helped the Jamieson family PAGE 16

Army&You Winter 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Friends of the Forces

Championing the charities crusading for Service families



HOUSING What’s your ideal home?


How to boost your skills when posted overseas



Super sight: Second World War veteran Jim Hooper has been given a fresh lease of life by Blind Veterans UK (page 19)

winter 2016 Army&You 05




Questions about the Service Pupil Premium (SPP) feature consistently in enquiries from families. What it is for, lack of consistency across England, different funding allocations in devolved areas and lack of support for Reservists are issues I bring to the attention of the MOD and Department for Education. The SPP tab on our website answers frequently asked questions, but get in touch if you can’t find the answer. The fundamentals are that it’s for the school to apply for SPP yearly, and they should spend it on the pastoral care of Service children as they see fit. This funding, as with all school funding, will be scrutinised by Ofsted.

The vote for Brexit is naturally causing consternation for European spouses in the UK who are married to soldiers. EU spouses could be affected by any future decision to restrict residence. Spouses who have been in the UK for five years could apply for permanent residence now, but eligibility is restricted to those who have worked for the whole five years or who have had comprehensive sickness insurance. I have approached the Home Office for clarification as to whether our spouses need to have had this insurance. In the meantime, anyone wishing to apply can contact me for further information. There is also information about Brexit on our website under FAQs.

Have you ever tried to access the Forces Help to Buy (FHTB) Scheme in order to get on the property ladder but found it wasn’t right for you? Maybe you applied but were rejected or the scheme wasn’t accepted by your mortgage lender? Did you use it and found that it worked well? The FHTB Scheme has now been extended to 2018 – see page 11 for details. AFF wants to hear from you to feed back to MOD policy makers, so share your experiences, good or bad, with me and I will pass on your views. Email

I am a volunteer trustee for Tidworth and Bulford Garrison Early Years and Play.

I did the Nottingham Water Wipeout mud run to raise money for Forces in the Community.

I’m planning to raise awareness and funds for Combat Stress.


The UK’s Only Armed Forces Motor Finance Broker Lowest Rate Guarantee Lowest Price Guarantee 5 Branches Over 3000 Cars Available All Credit Histories Considered

At MK Car Finance, we understand the issues Armed Forces personnel have obtaining credit. Being a specialist military finance broker, we deal with a number of lenders who are sympathetic and understand the unique circumstances of military personnel. With barracks or naval addresses, overseas postings, and moving around often, many of you find it hard to fit the usual credit scoring systems for motor finance. That, coupled with the fact that some lenders won’t even consider members of the Armed Forces, means applications are often unnecessarily declined.

What we do is different. Specialising in Armed Forces car finance, we offer both lowest rate and lowest price guarantees on all our vehicles and finance - more details of which are available at Whether you have good credit or have had credit issues in the past, with 5 branches, and over 3000 cars available at any time, we have something for everyone. We even give you 7 days to return the vehicle if you just don’t get on with it. For an informal chat with one of our specially trained Armed Forces car finance Account Managers, please call 0 3 3 3 5 7 7 5 5 3 3 , calls charged at standard landline rate. Alternatively, you can go to w w w . m k c a r f i n a n c e . c o . u k and fill in the straightforward application form 24 hours a day and we will get back to you during office hours.


A better way to get a car on finance

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19.9% APR Representative

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The representative APR means 51% or more of our customers who apply through the website and take up an offer of finance pay a rate of 19.9% APR or less. If you are accepted and your credit history is good you could potentially be offered an APR lower than this rate, if your credit history is poor you could potentially be offered an APR higher than this rate. Finance applications are always subject to status and affordability checks, written quotations are available upon request. *Not all applications for finance will receive an offer. For details please contact us by phone or visit Unique Financial Services South East LTD T/A MK Car Finance Constable House, 20 Simpson Rd, Fenny Stratford, Milton Keynes, MK2 2DE Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Firm Reference Number 666832.

06 Army&You winter 2016


This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

Apart from working for AFF, what other Service charities have you supported?





Cat Calder and I have been working on the Additional Needs Adaptations (ANA) process. We provided feedback to CarillionAmey (CA) and DIO on areas we felt could be improved: communication, accessing occupational therapy (OT) assessments and a timescale for completion of the adaptations. AFF is delighted that CA has published guidance for families requiring ANA and our request for assistance in acquiring an OT assessment will be provided by CA if one cannot be sourced within a reasonable timescale. Please contact me ( if you are currently undergoing this process. To access the ANA process, visit

The future of families’ accommodation takes up much of my time and AFF continues to work to ensure the needs of Army families are considered in any changes. On another aspect of housing, AFF has worked with the Department for Communities and Local Government and it has now produced a new letter for local authorities in England reminding them that Forces families living in SFA or SSFA with a second home, which is vacant but furnished, should be entitled to a 50 per cent discount of Council Tax. The letter is on our website. If you have any issues, please let me know by emailing

I am the new subject matter expert on transition issues for Army families. I am seeking to identify what support is provided for your family when your soldier leaves the military and what is needed. I’ll be working with the other families federations and the MOD, as well as relevant agencies and policy makers, to try to bring about change where necessary. As a starting point, I want to find out what’s most important to you when planning for your soldier’s transition. Your views are vital so please take our quick poll at or contact me at

I collected raffle prizes for the Multinational Charities Fund in JHQ. The best prize was a skiing holiday.

Posed naked for a charity calendar (Miss April).

I volunteer for SSAFA Woolwich In-Service Committee.

Your Financial Ally Your Financial Ally

We offer specialist help to you Kit Insurance Car Insurance Life Insurance Home & Contents Personal Accident

Reserve Forces Service Funds Travel Insurance ISA & Savings Mortgage

Call Us 00 800 00 01 02 03 0044 (0)345 658 1140

PMGI Limited (PMGI) is registered in England & Wales No. 1073408. The registered office of PMGI is Alexandra House, Queen Street, Lichfield, Staffordshire WS13 6QS. Mortgage Excellence Plc (MEX) is registered in England & Wales No. 3527577. Stuart Harvey Insurance Brokers Limited (SHIB) is registered in England & Wales No 4224318. The registered office of MEX andSHIB is Globe House, 24 Turret Lane,Ipswich, Suffolk IP4 1DL. ‘Forces Mutual’ is the trading name and brand for PMGI, MEX and SHIB.Universal International Freephone Number (UIFN) - local connection charges may apply, please check with your telephone provider. Calls to 03 numbers usually cost no more than to geographic numbers (01 or 02) and are usually included in call packages, please check with your phone company if they are included in your package. FM1929 (1016)

winter 2016 Army&You 07

This post is generously sponsored by the Forces in Mind Trust

This post is generously sponsored by ABF The Soldiers' Charity

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



Open Morning Dates: Sixth Form: Saturday 28 January 2017 Whole School: Saturday 11 March 2017

Full and weekly boarding now available

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

Why choose us?

• An independent school atmosphere at • Full and weekly boarding available. an affordable price. £4,165 per term* • Students enjoy an active lifestyle covers ALL the boarding costs, with the education paid for by the State.

• GCSE results are significantly above the national average.

• Graded ‘Good’ in all areas by Ofsted. • A £24.9m building programme has

just been completed to enhance our already impressive school site and facilities including new boarding houses, teaching blocks, drama studio, sports centre and climbing wall.

2016/17 fees are just £12,495* per year.

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

• Unique ethos helps promote

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

• Frequent involvement in high

profile National events including the Royal Festival of Remembrance.

• Good transport links to London and Europe.

Enquiries: 01304 245073 *Fees are reviewed annually


Big thanks for your Big Survey input by Sara Baade, Army Families Federation Chief Executive Get involved – follow us on Twitter @ArmyandYou and @The_AFF


ORE than 8,300 families said they would consider leaving the “Our lives begin to end took the opportunity to the day we become silent Army if SFA was removed and 30 per have their voice heard cent said they would definitely leave about things that matter.” if SFA was removed. These figures when we ran our Big Survey 2016: The Future of Military cannot be ignored. They show that Martin Luther King Jr. Housing. This is an extraordinary there would be a severe retention response and I want to start this article by thanking issue if SFA goes which would impact operational every one of you who completed it. effectiveness for the Army. You have given us a voice much stronger than we There was little support for the perceived ‘positives’ of ever expected and we are truly grateful for your the Future Accommodation Model (FAM), such as home support. Your evidence cannot be disregarded or ownership and flexibility of housing. Whereas some brushed under the carpet and this is the most powerful families aspired to buy a home, only 7 per cent wanted thing we could ask for. to do so within 50 miles of the unit as FAM initially suggested. We are, however, delighted that since we NO SURPRISE published our results, the 50 miles restriction seems I don’t think any of the results from the survey came to have been removed from the FAM proposal which as a surprise to us here at AFF; most of us are closely is good news - and hopefully a sign that policy makers linked to the Army ourselves, and we work with are listening to you. Army families day-to-day so we have a very good feel for what you are going through. However, one WE HAVE A REALLY IMPORTANT JOB TO DO of the hardest things for us is to show that this is not To ensure that the voice you have entrusted us with just hearsay, or something we have picked up on is heard in all the right places, I have discussed our social media, but wider ‘scientific’ truth. The evidence survey results with not just Mark Lancaster, produced by our surveys and taken from our Minister for Defence, Veterans, Reserves database is absolutely crucial when influencing and Personnel, but with the most senior policy makers and the senior chain of Army command and policy makers. command and this year’s Big Survey is I don’t think anyone can say that they testimony to that. have not seen the survey results and heard me argue the case for our WHAT CAME OUT OF THE SURVEY? families, SFA and patch life – and Firstly, and most importantly, the survey we will continue to make our case! really showed that Army families value The question now remains, how and want to keep their SFA. 70 per much emphasis will be placed cent of respondents said they on the families’ voice? My would prefer to live in SFA view is that families are key compared to 30 per cent stakeholders in this potential who supported a rental policy change and the MOD allowance when mobile. cannot afford not to listen to This was closely linked us. We have a very strong to the feedback of the argument and evidence to importance of SFA patch back us up and I feel hopeful life and the support and that our voice will be taken security this brings you. seriously. Keep an eye SFA is so important that on AFF’s communication 46 per cent of our families channels for updates. &



Respondents to our future of military housing survey

95 per cent

Serve accompanied as they want to live as a family

74 per cent

Like living close to other Service families and being part of a community

11 per cent

Would choose to live in their own home and have their soldier weekly commute

4 per cent Would like a private rental allowance

winter 2016 Army&You 09

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

“It’s a huge comfort to know the Legion’s support will never stop, even when I’m 70, 80 years old.” Mark Stonelake, who lost his left leg following an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) explosion in Afghanistan.

To learn more about the Legion’s free Will Writing service or request a copy of our Will Guide visit

Registered Charity Number: 219279


The Network conforms to regulations of The Law Society of England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as the Charity Commission and the Institute of Fundraising.

in oos d e so epe fro lic nd m it e u in ors nt f p to ar you bas am six ea r ed ily .

Or contact the Legion’s legacy manager Nicola Hall on 020 3207 2253 or at

Grapevine Really useful bits about Army life. Get involved – email



GOOD NEWS FOR HOMEBUYERS Did you know the Forces Help to Buy Scheme will continue into 2018? AFF is delighted with the announcement by the Secretary of State for Defence, Michael Fallon that the popular initiative is to be extended in line with the government’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant. Launched in 2014, the scheme enables you

to borrow up to half of your soldier’s salary (up to £25,000), interest free over 10 years, to help buy a home. So far, 81 per cent of payments have been made to other rank soldiers. l Find out more by visiting

ARE you in the market for a new house? If so, Bovis Homes is inviting you to make the most of a military-specific discount scheme. As part of its commitment to the Armed Forces community, Bovis is offering a two per cent discount on new properties to serving personnel, including Reservists, as well as free carpets, curtains and £500 towards legal fees. Find out more at information-on/ schemes-for-thearmed-forces &




Weeks apart, odd phone calls and messages, then a twoand-a-half hour phone call! You’ve got to love Army life!

Toddler keeps putting daddy’s shoes by the door – deployment heartache! #2monthsdown1togo #armywife


I feel like he’s been deployed for months on end but it’s only been two months, almost three. Hurry up time! #ArmyGirlfriend


So proud of my wife recording for Military Wives Choir Christmas Album. #homeforchristmas

GET INVOLVED: Follow us on Twitter @ArmyandYou and @The_AFF

winter 2016 Army&You 11


MARKS ON THE MOVE IF YOU have experienced problems receiving deliveries from Marks & Spencer when using a BFPO address, you’ll be pleased to hear that AFF and Defence Relationship Management have worked with the company to resolve the issue. The correct postcode format to use is BFPO directly followed by your BFPO number – for example BFPO39.

HUB’S HELPING HAND HAVE you checked out careers and enterprise organisation Forces Enterprise Network Hub? It provides all members of the Armed Forces community with the skills, resources and practical tools needed to be successful in whatever route to employment you choose, either by starting and maintaining your own business or securing employment. Find out more at forces

NEW LICENCE LAWS FAMILIES who have recently returned from an overseas posting or soldiers who’ve been away on ops might not be aware that a recent change in the law now means you need to have a TV licence to download or watch BBC programmes on demand – including catch-up TV on BBC iPlayer. This applies to all devices, including smart TVs, desktop computers, laptops, mobile phones, tablets, digital boxes and games consoles. Check out tvlicensing. for more information.

12 Army&You winter 2016

First contact for mental health CONTACT is an innovative collaborative organisation working to make the most effective mental health support easily accessible to Service personnel, veterans and their families.

The group’s partners include: l

Big White Wall

l Cobseo l Combat l Help



Heroes l King’s Centre for Military Health Research l King’s College London

l Ministry

of Defence l NHS Wales l The Royal British Legion l UK Psychological Trauma Society l Walking with the Wounded l NHS England l Veterans’ First Point

Contact is one of the charities signed up to the Heads Together campaign, spearheaded by The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry, which aims to end stigma

around mental health. To make sure you and your soldier have access to the best pathway to mental health support, check out contact uk and heads

SEN charities are champion


HERE are a number of charities that AFF recommends to Army families who need help and support with Special Educational Needs (SEN). The following is a list that we regularly refer to...

INFORMATION, ADVICE AND SUPPORT SERVICE NETWORK Information, advice and support for disabled children and young people, those with SEN, and their parents. Contacts across the country.

COUNCIL FOR DISABLED CHILDREN Umbrella body for disabled children with a wealth of information for parents. councilfordisabled

INDEPENDENT PARENTAL SPECIAL EDUCATION ADVICE Advice on SEN, including legal questions, EHC assessments, a jargon buster and information on how to make a complaint.

CONTACT A FAMILY Brings families together in order to support one another. DYSLEXIA ACTION Support, assessments and tuition through national learning centres, distance learning and in schools. FAMILY FUND Grants for families raising disabled or seriously-ill children.

To discuss SEN further, please email Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott at if it is a school related issue, or Karen Ross at for health related questions. @ArmyandYou


SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity is a registered adoption agency. We have over 20 years’ experience supporting the military with adoption. TO FIND OUT MORE Call 020 7463 9326 or email Visit

Registered charity No.210760 and SCO38056. Established 1885. Job ref: S094.1016



A selection of the best pictures of Army life...

Celebrating Covenant success DURING 2016, AFF has announced some excellent Armed Forces Covenant commitments and policy changes as a result of highlighting where policies have disadvantaged you and your soldier. We have worked with the Armed Forces Covenant team, Defence Relationship Management and other organisations and used your evidence to get policies changed. Here’s a roundup of some of the highlights…

MOBILE PHONES Vodafone, Three, EE and O2 announced commitments to fairer deals for Forces families, so that you can now suspend your contract for up to two years while posted overseas.


If you’re posted overseas, you are now able to rent out your home without facing higher mortgage charges or having to change your existing

mortgage deal, saving you time and money. The new agreement is with Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group, Santander UK, Royal Bank of Scotland and Nationwide.


Army spouses will benefit from recent changes to student funding. Previously the rules excluded you from accessing a student loan if you were not resident in

the UK on the first day of your course. l See page 50.


New measures mean that you can keep your no claims bonus for up to three years and insurers will waive fees normally charged if you need to cancel a policy at short notice when posted overseas. For more details on these announcements and to find out more about the Armed Forces Covenant, visit &

HEADING FOR CIVVY STREET? AFF is investigating what you think are the biggest challenges you will face when you transition from being an Army to a civilian family? Does accommodation angst keep you awake? Do you worry about school places? Are you eager to sort out your employment? Let AFF know by completing our quick poll at

Picture credits: MOD Crown copyright except for picture two (Beverley Winson)


From top: One of the military’s four-legged friends on duty during National Dog Day; Seven-year-old Isobel Winson bakes cakes for Red White and Blue Day; The Queen takes a posy at an event to mark 300 years of the Royal Engineers; Youngsters jump at the chance to grab a selfie with a member of the RLC Silver Stars Parachute Display Team.

14 Army&You winter 2016

ARMY spouses and partners work not just for financial reward but also to have a sense of identity and independence, according to the results of our recent ‘How We Work’ employment survey. The study also revealed that you still face significant challenges, particularly regarding childcare and whether your soldier can assist you. AFF urges the MOD to better promote its flexible working policy to encourage a cultural shift. Laura Lewin, AFF Employment & Training Specialist, explained: “Flexible working should be considered to better reflect modern families by allowing Army personnel to support their spouse’s employment, such as being able to work from home on DII laptops or allowing a later start/earlier finish.” We asked your reasons for working, whether it’s financially viable and the secret to your success.

l Of

respondents who work, 57 per cent do so part-time. l Three quarters of respondents commute to work, 14 per cent work flexibly and 10 per cent work from home. l Childcare rates highly among the top five obstacles you face in maintaining employment as a non-serving partner, particularly the cost and availability. l Well in excess of a third of you said your soldier’s workload means they are unable to help, even occasionally. l Despite the challenges, 62 per cent believe that working whilst being an Army spouse or partner is worth it. AFF is presenting the findings to the chain of command and will continue to work on areas of concern. The full report will be available from 25 November. Visit for more. l





Important information Official fuel consumption figures in mpg (l/100km) for the Ford Focus ST-Line range: urban 33.2-67.3 (8.5-4.2), extra urban 60.1-83.1 (4.7-3.4), combined 46.3-74.3 (6.1-3.8). Official CO 2 emissions 140-99g/km. The mpg figures quoted are sourced from official EU-regulated test results (EU Directive and Regulation 692/2008), are provided for comparability purposes and may not reflect your actual driving experience. *Military Saving programme available to current and ex Service Personnel including veterans and retired members of the UK Armed Forces. Customer savings of 5% to 20% available across the Ford range (excluding KA+, Mustang and Focus RS) on vehicles contracted from 1st October 2016 to 31st December 2016 and registered between 1st October 2016 and 30th June 2017. At participating Ford dealers – for terms and conditions, eligible models and customer savings visit:

An army of support: The Thompson family (centre) enjoyed a getaway thanks to Little Troopers. Clockwise from top left: The Jamiesons benefited hugely from the support of ABF The Soldiers' Charity; A Royal British Legion (RBL) break centre; The McCutcheons were 'glued back together' by an RBL Poppy Break; Daniel Richards was assisted back into work by Help for Heroes and the Band of Sisters; SSAFA supports a host of Service families; the Forces Children's Trust Christmas party.


Friends of the Forces

Kate Viggers delves into the practical help available to military families from a variety of Service charities…


ILITARY families are resilient and most of you cope happily throughout your soldier’s career. But Army life can present situations where extra support is required. Knowing how and where to access help is important, especially if you’re beyond the wire or outside the welfare network. “While Regular Forces personnel are likely to read magazines like Army&You and Soldier and stay in touch with what is going on through websites and social media, older

16 Army&You winter 2016

Reservists might not know about these resources,” said Lt Gen Sir Andrew Ridgway, chairman of Cobseo, the Confederation of Service Charities. “We are working closely to develop lines of communication and ensure opportunities to share best practice are maximised.” Cobseo helps its charity members interact with the government, Royal household, private sector and Forces community so they can work together to provide the best possible support. AFF Chief Executive Sara Baade

agrees that collaboration is key to ensuring your needs are met: “We often identify a need for additional support but, due to limited resources, we are not always able to act. “This is where other charities are invaluable. Without the generous support of ABF The Soldier’s Charity, we would not have been able to deliver the employment and training specialist service, nor the health and additional needs support. “The Forces in Mind Trust has also given AFF and the other families federations a grant to

support Forces families through transition. We never take any aid for granted and are truly grateful for all support we receive to help us support Army families.” Service charities don't just raise vital funds for soldiers, veterans and families – they improve awareness of the practical assistance available. From counselling and holidays to household repairs and childcare, there’s a wealth of support on offer. Whatever your situation, don’t be afraid to ask. Here’s a snapshot of some of the charities which can support you: @ArmyandYou


GENERAL ABF – The Soldier’s Charity 0207 901 8900 Supporting the entire Army family “The family is often left to carry the burden of a soldier’s service, so it’s hugely important to make sure they are looked after." Brigadier (Retd) Robin Bacon, Chief of Staff The Jamiesons After Gary was injured in Afghanistan, the charity paid for major home renovations, funding hotel accommodation for the family throughout, car adaptations and gym equipment. He said: “The Soldiers’ Charity had such a positive impact on my life.” Royal British Legion 0808 802 8080 Pop-in centres throughout UK Lifelong support for Armed Forces, Reservists, veterans & families l Money & employment advice l Regular quick household repairs l Break centres for older veterans l Adventure/family holidays The McCutcheons Anna’s husband John developed PTSD after two tours of Iraq: “The Poppy Break helped glue our family back together. John struggles to interact with others but the break helped him relax and he enjoyed chatting to other veterans. For that week, I got my husband back and the children got their father back.” SSAFA Forcesline 0800 731 4880 Provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served and their families l Short-notice deployment welfare assistance, from lawn mowing to childcare l Befriending, especially for new arrivals on base l Support groups for bereaved families, siblings and families of wounded, injured or sick l Adoption l Housing l Support and activity breaks for families with a young person who has an additional need/disability “Soldiers’ parents often contact Forcesline to talk. Our online postcode search helps Reservists find their nearest SSAFA branch.” Sue Pillar, Director Volunteer Ops



Reading Force A shared family reading initiative

Family Activity Breaks Challenging activity camps

The Wilsons (pictured below) “My husband deployed almost as soon as we moved. My boys were three and four and days seemed long. Receiving books through the post was a great thrill for them and completing a scrapbook together was a lovely way to pass the time. It was great to give them something to talk to dad about on Skype.”

Fun and challenging activity camps around the UK for bereaved military families with children up to the age of 19.

Little Troopers Care & fun while mum/dad is away

The Lockwoods Laura (pictured below) lost her husband Michael, who served with the Royal Horse Artillery, in 2014 to a brain tumour. She said: "It’s difficult when we’re out and [see] other children with their daddies or a man in uniform. Scotty’s Little Soldiers has shown us love, support and ensured we’re not on our own."

l Children receive separation packs and birthday cards if parents are away l Events in UK/at overseas bases – summer camps, football/dance workshops – provide a distraction and lots to tell an absent parent The Thompsons Becky’s husband, in the Royal Engineers, has deployed five times since their children were born. She has attended summer camps and a Christmas party. “For one whole weekend, my kids are ‘normal’ because everybody is in the same boat. As parents we also get to relax in a safe environment knowing that everyone understands the stresses of separation.”

Scotty’s Little Soldiers A variety of programmes for bereaved children looking to a brighter future

Forces Children’s Trust +44 (0)1737 361077 Companionship for children whose parent has died or received life-threatening injuries in conflict or Service l Educational and theatre trips; fund to help cover extra-curricular lessons l Holidays to Disneyland and Spain l Christmas parties l Adventure week with the Outward Bound Trust “While nothing can take away the pain of losing a parent, our activities and support help children realise they are not alone in their grief.” Denny Wise, founder

ILLNESS/INJURY The Ripple Pond 01252 913021, Mon to Fri 9.30am – 2.30pm Supporting the supporters l Meetings within one hour’s drive, where possible l Members share stories and links to relevant organisations l Buddy system and secret Facebook group A spouse’s story Jess contacted The Ripple Pond after struggling with her husband’s PTSD. “The online support is invaluable. I have made friends with others in my situation and that makes me feel less alone. It is difficult being the partner to someone with an ‘invisible’ illness.” Defence Medical Welfare Service A leading light in medical welfare l ‘Care navigators’ address and assess needs associated with ill-health outside a clinical team’s remit, such as accommodation, debt and substance misuse l Source suitable help and advocate for patient and family l Accurate information is provided to units often many miles away “The biggest difference we make is to patients and families who rely on us for practical and emotional support at incredibly stressful, worrying times.” Fiona Walters, founder Band of Sisters 01980 844280 Where there’s a wounded soldier, there’s a wounded family l Help with living with someone with psychological problems l ‘Hidden Wounds’ – psychological support for those living with anxiety, depression, stress, anger or wishing to change drinking habits l Family breaks, welfare advice, access to H4H Recovery Centres A mother’s story Former LBdr Daniel Richards struggled to find work after a near fatal motorbike accident. Mum Nikki Fleming said: "I called Help for Heroes [and] asked them if they had contacts within companies that would give Daniel a chance to show employers just what he is made of. They said they would work with him and try to find him employment. Without their support, we would not be where we are today.”

winter 2016 Army&You 17

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Featuring a Service charity, military-themed books and a Forces-friendly photographer

Decorated veteran: Jim Hooper was held as a prisoner of war by the Germans following the Battle of Arnhem in 1944


Visionary support How Blind Veterans UK gave a Second World War veteran a fresh lease of life


IM Hooper (94) joined the Territorial Army in 1939 before transferring to the Glider Pilot Regiment in the Army Air Corps as one of the founder members. In 1944, Jim was involved in the Battle of Arnhem where he was captured by German troops and held as a prisoner of war for seven months. On release, he rejoined his regiment and left in 1946 as a staff sergeant. It was years later, when Jim was diagnosed with age-related macular

degeneration and cataracts, that he was slowly robbed of his sight. Four years ago he was registered blind. His daughter, Maundy Todd (pictured right), told Army&You how the right support has helped to change her father’s life: “My father is a resourceful, innovative person," she said. "But losing his sight has been very tough. Blind Veterans UK has given him a new lease of life.”

PRACTICAL HELP Jim has received

specialist training, equipment and support from the charity to help him adjust. Maundy added: “I think we all feel enormously grateful. It has given daddy hope, company and new skills. "He’s been several

times to the charity’s centre in Brighton, and received training on new software so that he can continue to use a computer. He even learned to touch type at 92! "He has wonderful IT equipment that reads things out to him and equipment for the house to make it safer and easier for him to live independently.” Jim explained: “Losing my sight was devastating. I’d been driving all my life, and there was very little public transport,

so I had to rely on other people and taxis. “My youngest son and his family live close and provide wonderful support for me and my wife, including going out for a weekly beer. "My eldest son lives further away, but technology allows him to help in many ways including ordering my groceries online. “Blind Veterans UK helped me regain my independence. I’d encourage anyone who may be eligible to contact them for support.” &

Blind Veterans UK provides ex-Servicemen and women with lifelong support, rehabilitation, training and residential and respite care. If you know a veteran battling severe sight loss, find out how the charity can help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting

winter 2016 Army&You 19

Perfect portraits (Clockwise, from top left): Pte Styles, The Royal Tank Regiment; C Sgt Woodley, 1st Battalion, Royal Welsh Regiment; Rfn Chant, 1st Battalion, The Rifles; Lt Col Steel, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland; Sgt Nafrue, Royal Irish Regiment; Maj Tyrrell, Royal Irish Regiment; Pte Wainwright, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland; Pte Limbu, 3 PARA

Army life through the lens For more than a decade, Rory Lewis has been honing his craft to become one of the UK’s most prolific portrait photographers. His work has been acquired by London's National Portrait Gallery and is exhibited worldwide. Rory (left) told us more about his latest commission…


WORK with celebrities all the time, but this time I’m turning my lens towards the British Army for an ambitious project. I felt that for a long period of time, I had been photographing models and actors, who are acting for the most part. This time I wanted to capture the real heroes. With the help of Lt Gen Sir James Everard, who I met last year, my aim is to capture a diverse portrait of the Army in the second decade of the 21st century. I have been working closely with the Army holding hundreds of portrait sittings

20 Army&You winter 2016

throughout 2016. I’ll be visiting more regiments to complete the project in time for an exhibition in London in summer 2017. With a degree in history, detail is very important to me as a photographer and I pride myself on capturing every line, mark and scar. Each portrait tells a story. Just by looking into the eyes of the men and women you can see those soldiers who have just passed out looking fresh-faced and ready for action, and then look at those who have been veterans of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan with more

experienced and vivid emotions. To me, the eyes are everything – they are indeed the gateway to our souls. The project features the Army’s leaders and the soldiers of regiments including The Grenadier Guards, The Royal Welsh, The Royal Irish, The Gurkhas and The Rifles. It has been a wonderful experience to travel the country from Fort George in Inverness to the Yorkshire Dales and south to London, Andover and Aldershot. One of the most interesting sittings was with the Royal Welsh Regiment. I was very

lucky to feature one of the most important members – Llewellyn the regimental goat – who was very happy to sit for his portrait. Working with the men and women of the Army, you quickly discover how diverse it is. I’ve met soldiers from all over the world, including Malawi, Zimbabwe, Canada and Australia. Every regiment is unique, almost like its own tribe with its own uniform, traditions and heritage. To find out more, visit soldiery & @ArmyandYou



Hailing the home front In her new book, Army Wives, Midge Gillies uses first-hand accounts, letters and diaries to explore what it means to be part of a Service family, from the struggle for normality and the impact of life-changing injury to how we communicate with our soldiers and cope with everyday pressures. Army&You caught up with Midge (pictured left) to find out more… What is your Armed Forces connection? My father was a sergeant major in the Scots Guards during World War Two. He spent several months in prisoner of war camps in Germany until he escaped, in the dying days of the war. His fiancée sent him a Dear John letter saying she had met someone else, so when he came home he sought out my mum – a previous girlfriend he’d met at a dance – and proposed.

What inspired you to write the book? My previous book was about prisoners of war and I realised how important the role of family members were in helping soldiers to keep going when things looked bleak. Like most of the country, I was hooked on Gareth Malone’s TV programme about military wives too. I was struck by their bravery, but also by the fact that they were coping with many of the problems earlier Army families also went through: separation, bringing up children alone, coping with disability and, in the worst instances, bereavement.

During your research, did anything surprise you? What did you find most moving? I met some amazing people, both in person and via the letters and diaries they left behind. I was struck by their adaptability. One woman told me how, over the course of a long Army career, she had had to get used to cooking on 18 different ovens! Because I’m a mum, I was most moved by stories involving children. In one archive I read letters, found on the body of Gunner Cove after he was killed in the Great War, from his wife and their five-year-old daughter. I later discovered that the little girl had been sent to an orphanage because her mother felt she would be unable to cope. It was terribly sad to read of the Army wives during the Raj in India who lost babies to tropical illnesses;

or the women stranded in Crimea after their husbands had died from cholera or enemy fire.

How do you think the lives of Army families have changed over the years? Communication is much faster but that’s not always a good thing because soldiers hear about all the problems at home – from a broken washing machine to a difficulty at school – but are helpless to intervene. Our obsession with 24-hour news also means that today’s Service family has greater awareness of world politics compared to their Victorian counterparts. Of course there are a lot more Army husbands around nowadays.

What did you find were the best and worst aspects to being an Army wife? The constant moves, having to adapt to a new house, a new part of the country or somewhere abroad. In today’s war on terror, it must be difficult not to worry about your soldier and to have little control about where they are sent next. One of the most appealing aspects was the wonderful support available from the Army itself and other Army families. I was really impressed at the way that people look out for each other and try to include people from different backgrounds. That sense of belonging really appeals to me and must be so helpful to young families.

How do you think your book will be viewed by Army wives of today? I hope they enjoy the book and I think they might be surprised by the extent to which they share similarities with Army families from the past. &

Army&You has three copies of the book to give away. Turn to page three for details on how to enter.

winter 2016 Army&You 21

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Comic contemplates PTSD

F ANYONE you know has been affected by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), no matter what the cause, At War With Yourself is a must-read. The illustrated comic addresses fictional ex-soldier

Matt’s struggle with PTSD, the impact it has on his family and how he and his loved ones eventually learnt to cope with the condition. From scoping out quick exits in coffee shops to re-experiencing

traumatic events triggered by a sound or smell, Matt describes his unique experiences of PTSD. Creator Samuel Williams, an illustrator and comic artist based in Harrogate, said: “I’d like to understand

more about it and I think it could help other people too." The comic comes highly recommended. Military psychologist and trauma specialist Professor Jamie Hacker Hughes said: “At War with Yourself

uses a novel and highly-effective way to educate people with PTSD and their families, and those potentially at risk, about the nature, features, effects and consequences of PTSD. "This short cartoon format gets this

message across in a unique, engaging and concise style and I commend it highly.” We have two copies to give away – details are on page three. For more info, visit singing &


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01980 322 322 winter 2016 Army&You 23


The magic of three Service couple Kelly and Vincent Markwell have been together for eight years and married for three. They have a five-year-old boy, Oscar, and couldn’t believe it when they discovered they were having triplets. Kelly told us how they are juggling Army life with their three new arrivals…


HEN the Markwells found out about their imminent triple arrival, feelings of shock, dread and worry were soon replaced by excitement. “The more we thought about it and the more scans we had (which was a lot), the more we looked forward to their arrival,” explained Kelly. Now nearing their first birthdays, Poppy, Tommy and Billy were born at 31 weeks by emergency C-section and Kelly and Vincent say they’ve since managed each day as it comes. “The triplets spent five weeks in a neonatal ward and thankfully Vincent was with me the whole time,” said Kelly. “Once we were home, our parents came and supported us


24 Army&You winter 2016

which was fantastic. Since those early weeks, they are always there with help and support whenever we need them.” Once Vincent returned to work, Kelly soon got herself, Oscar and the triplets into a routine. “So far I have coped fine on my own. Believe me, with triplets, a routine is key,” she advised.

SERVICE SUPPORT The Army has been helpful from the start which has made a big difference, as Kelly explained: “Vincent’s unit, The Royal Lancers, has supported us throughout, letting him have time off to attend the triplets' hospital appointments. "They even provided us with a minibus so we could go on a

family holiday in the summer. Our seven-seater car is big enough for day-to-day tasks, but not for a family holiday. We literally packed the kitchen sink.” With Vincent due to go away on various courses, Kelly will be managing the triplets, Oscar and school run on her own. “I have a few military and civilian friends nearby that I can rely on if needed, but I also have close friends that I can call or text at the drop of a hat," she said. The Markwells' lives are becoming more interesting and challenging as the triplets get bigger and more mobile. “We currently live in a threebedroom quarter but are rapidly running out of room so we are hoping to move into a bigger SFA in the future," said Kelly.

TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association) is a UK-wide charity working to improve the lives of multiples and their families. It does this through campaigns, funding clinical research and providing practical support and information. “Raising three children at once can be immensely rewarding, but incredibly tiring

"We stockpile the essentials because they don't last long, searching for bargains and sales whenever we can." For others in their situation, she has the following advice: “It’s a scary time having premature babies but have faith in the doctors and nurses – they are worth their weight in gold. “Don’t listen to horror stories that people love to tell you because it’s nowhere near as bad as people make out – and be proud! "You’ve created a massive miracle and not every parent can say they’ve got triplets. "Multiple births are not easy but as parents of triplets it is the most amazing experience anyone can wish for,” she added. &

too. To help families of triplets, we have lots of information and tips,” explained CEO Keith Reed. “One of the key things we found from talking to parents is the importance of having a routine in place, one that works for your individual family’s circumstances. The other important thing to remember is to never be afraid to ask for help. Friends and



Triple tears of pride P

ARENTS Traci and Mark Duffy shed tears of pride as they watched their triplets – Lauren, Mirran and Connor – realise their lifelong ambition to serve in the British Army. The trio, who were born nine weeks prematurely, wanted to follow in mum and dad’s footsteps from an early age, and all attended the Military Preparation College in Farnborough to kick off their military careers. They passed out from AFC Harrogate earlier this year to become the first set of triplets to join up together. Speaking exclusively to Army&You, Mirran said: “Our parents were both in the military so it has always

been a big part of our lives. “We knew from an early age that it was what we wanted to do, and all signed up with the Military Preparation College to make sure we were ready.”

although my husband will deny this until his dying day! “We’ve given them advice aplenty but the most pertinent is to always try, never let the fear of failing put you off.”



The Duffy household is going to be quiet now and mum Traci, a former soldier with the Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps, admitted that no amount of Army training could have prepared her for having triplets. “We’re immensely proud of what they have achieved,” she added. “There were tears of pride as we watched them march off the parade square –

Dad Mark, who is RSM of 16 Medical Regiment, said his children now stand a little taller having gained so much from their time at the AFC. “Training has been challenging and fun in various degrees and each has found themselves pushed beyond their own understanding of their limits," he explained. “There have been lows too – Mirran splitting her knee open

for example – but they have cracked on showing a strength of character that they probably didn’t realise they had.” The triplets have now joined their units for Phase 2 training. Connor has gone to the Army Air Corps, Mirran is a medic with the Royal Army Medical Corps and Lauren has joined the Royal Logistic Corps to be a logistic supply specialist. Inspired? Go to to find out more about Army careers or visit for information on Military Preparation Colleges around the UK. &

Terrific trio: Lauren, Mirran and Connor Duffy made parents Traci and Mark immensely proud after achieving their longheld ambition of joining the British Army

family are often pleased you need them and want them to be involved.” Tamba has factsheets on raising triplets, quads and more. Parents can also call 0800 138 0509 for support. Keith added: “Our website also has advice for older multiples on developing outside relationships and that big step into the world

of work, university and adulthood. Some families have kindly shared their stories too. We send both families featured in these articles our best wishes for the future and will be here for any support or advice they need.” For further information, visit the charity's website at

DID YOU KNOW? ◆ One in 63 pregnancies result in a multiple birth ◆ Multiple births have increased in the last 20 years ◆ 163 triplets were born in the UK in 2014 *ONS latest stats

winter 2016 Army&You 25


BOOSTING YOUR BABY BUDGET Sleepless nights go with the territory when you’re a new parent, but don’t let money worries be the thing that’s keeping you awake. Check out MoneyForce’s top tips for saving money and spending wisely... PLAN AHEAD


As soon as you find out you're pregnant, examine your budget and identify any potential changes.

Check out your local HIVE, thrift shop or your unit welfare office, where other Service families may be selling things. There are also various

THINK BEFORE YOU BUY Consider whether you really need it and how you would use it. Read product reviews and ask people you know; this will give you an idea of whether others felt it was worth the money.

websites where you can find items for a fraction of the price.

SHOP AROUND Look for sales or places that sell the same product but for less such as supermarkets, charity shops and online.

BORROW STUFF Don't be afraid to ask family and friends if you can borrow. Check your local HIVE or put up a card on the noticeboard. Furniture is available free on loan from Service sources and it’s usually new or in very good condition.

DON’T STOCKPILE Don’t immediately go out and buy loads of nappies, creams or wipes. Buy a few and wait until you know what brands you like.

MAKE THE MOST OF FREEBIES Join all the baby clubs you can – the supermarkets, baby food and nappy companies all have them and have free samples and vouchers.

DON’T GO BABY CLOTHES SHOPPING Don’t buy lots of baby clothes as many people will give you these as gifts

– your baby will grow out of them so quickly.

SELL ANYTHING YOU DON’T NEED Hang on to any boxes if you've got the space. Don’t take the labels off new baby clothes until you use them (you'll be surprised how many tiny outfits don't get worn). You can get a better price when you sell them – but make sure you won’t need them – you don't want to buy it all again if you have another baby. Visit uk for more details and check out its 'having a baby' calculator. &

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Making sense of maternity muddle


HANKS to your evidence, AFF has been able to press the MOD to make an important update to its maternity allowance policy, so that you’re not disadvantaged if posted overseas. In 2012, the MOD exgratia payment in lieu of maternity allowance was introduced for spouses and civil partners who would have otherwise been entitled to receive the benefit had they remained in the UK. It means your serving person can claim maternity allowance from the MOD on your behalf if you are posted outside of the European Economic Area and where there is no reciprocal benefit agreement.

POLICY PROBLEMS Some of you contacted AFF to tell us that the policy was failing you, as our Employment, Training, Allowances & Money

Specialist, Laura Lewin, explained: “Families told us it was difficult to claim as they were not given the required paperwork that the Defence Information Notice (DIN) asked for. “This was the evidence we needed to talk to policy makers at the MOD and Department for Work & Pensions (DWP) to highlight that there was a problem. The DIN has now been amended so the appropriate forms can be issued.” Laura helped Nicola and Aron McCombe find a solution when their application for maternity allowance was rejected by the MOD on their return from their posting to BATUS, Canada. “We discovered that we were expecting our first child

due in September 2014,” said Nicola. “I was working full-time and we were not due posting until the October, but we were short-toured and our move back to the UK was brought forward to June, four weeks shy of the date I needed to qualify for my maternity benefits package.” The McCombes explored options to remain in Canada for the remaining four weeks, but were left with no choice but to leave. “The military staff at BATUS were incredibly supportive, working with us to try to find a resolution,” added Nicola. “After several phone calls to the DWP, the BATUS regimental

administration officer confirmed that I would be eligible. “However, on return to the UK we were frustrated to find that our application had been turned down as my work in Canada could not be used towards entitlement.”

CALL AFF “AFF’s support from the outset was fantastic,” said Nicola. “Laura advised me on what steps to take next and also liaised with both the DWP and MOD at a higher level. “It proved successful on two levels; the military policy was rewritten which has benefitted other military families and two years on, I finally received the ex-gratia payment. “Without a

doubt none of this would have been possible had AFF not supported our case and invested time in pursuing it, for which we are incredibly grateful.” Information on maternity benefits can be found under the Army Family Life section at If you’re struggling to understand the policy or feel that it has not worked for you, Laura is happy to help. Email her at

USEFUL LINKS ● Your soldier can access the DIN (2012DIN01-220) via Defence Intranet ● International Pension Centre – +44 (0)191 218 7777 ● DWP guide to maternity benefits – ● Money Advice Service – money adviceservice. ● MoneyForce – moneyforce. &

AFF works hard to improve the quality of life for Army families around the world. A result such as this shows the value of contacting us –

winter 2016 Army&You 27



The summer of '17 Do you have youngsters aged 15-to-19 in your Army family? Do they want to take part in a fun course and learn life-changing skills? Find out how your teenagers can unlock their full potential with The Outward Bound Trust…


HE Trust's 19-day summer course is geared to personal development, focusing particularly on the transition into adulthood. In an ever-more competitive world, the award seeks to help young people stand out amongst their peers. To celebrate the Trust’s 75th anniversary, it’s offering 200 scholarships for the Skills for Life Award in summer 2017. Joanna Tomlinson achieved her award last year and came away with greater confidence to try new things. “I think everyone should do this,” she explained. “At the

help them progress after they have achieved their award. In addition to knowing her award would help her stand out in her university application, Emily Reed said the course helped her become more resilient. “I was very anxious to be pushed out of my comfort zone," she added. "After completing the course I am more open to challenges and am better at remaining calm and dealing with pressured situations.”

HOW TO APPLY end, you feel so positive that you’ve managed to do things you wouldn’t normally do!”

HOW DOES IT WORK? Experienced instructors guide participants through personal

coaching sessions as well as team activities. Challenges are designed to develop confidence, emotional intelligence, leadership, communication and team-working skills. Youngsters leave with their own 12-month action plan to

Each Skills for Life Award Scholarship is worth up to £849 – 50 per cent of the course fee. To be eligible, young people must be a UK resident/ passport holder aged between 15-19 years on the start date of the course. &

For more information, call 01931 740000 or visit

28 Army&You winter 2016



Tapping into community spirit S TARTING out in business four years ago seems a distant memory for Army fiancèe and dance teacher Julia Holding. Her company, Studio J Dance, has gone from strengthto-strength and is bringing Shropshire's military and civilian communities together. After teaming up with the 1 Royal Irish welfare team and being granted Armed Forces Community Covenant funding, Julia's school has

also moved into its own studio space in Tern Hill with more than 100 adults and children on its books. “Lifetime friendships have been formed for both children and adults and it’s created an understanding about the military way of life and vice versa,” she explained. “Events that we’ve performed at have brought the community together. We are one big dance family!” The classes achieved a 100

per cent pass rate in their first set of exams and have performed for royalty too, while two pupils, 11-year-

old Jayden Reynolds and Jessica Jones, aged 12, have passed auditions for associate schemes.

Jayden discovered a natural talent when he began ballet lessons and has since been accepted at Elmhurst Ballet School. “I am extremely proud of how much Jayden has achieved,” said Julia. “His hard work is paying off and I, along with his parents, are thrilled that his dreams are coming true.” All-round dancer Jessica was one of Julia’s first pupils. She moved away because her dad was posted, but

still took part in local performances thanks to the commitment of her parents. Now back in Shropshire, she has successfully auditioned for the Midlands Jazz Associate Scheme. Julia added: “I am thrilled to bits with all that Jessica has accomplished despite the transient nature of Army life.” The studio offers a great way for new families to meet people. If you’re based in the Tern Hill area, go to to find out more. &

Got an inspirational story from your community? Army&You would love to hear from you. Get in touch by emailing

School fees fixed at CEA +10% of the school fees – there is no more to pay.* * Terms and conditions apply

Wycliffe College Nursery

Prep School

Senior School

Sixth Form

Boarding options from 8 years old Girls and boys from 2-18

winter 2016 Army&You 29


HAVE FUN SHARING BOOKS It’s free to take part in Reading Force, where families share a book and talk about it, together at home or over Skype or FaceTime if separated due to deployments and training. You’ll receive a free book and scrapbook to fill with your thoughts, e-blueys, letters, drawings and photographs – a fun way to keep communicating. Take part via your children’s school, HIVE, or register online at If your children would like to review books for Book Club, email hattie@ with their names and ages.

Prehistoric prose We have teamed up with Reading Force, the national shared reading charity for all Armed Forces families, to launch the Army&You Book Club. Each edition, we’ll be asking young readers to review the latest children’s book releases. To kick off, these Service youngsters have been finding out What’s so Special about dinosaurs?...

Luke Booth (8) What’s so Special about Tyrannosaurus Rex?

Benjamin Allford (7) What’s so Special about Ankylosaurus?

“This is a very factual book. I loved the scary facts, I never knew T-Rex had feathers or how long their teeth was. It’s made me want to learn more about dinosaurs.”

“This book is epic. It has lots of fun facts and good information. I would recommend this book to my friends, but they’d have to buy their own copy!”

Holly Herbert (5) What’s so Special about Stegosaurus? “It’s amazing. This book has lots of facts about size of teeth and brain, what he eats and how fast he moves. I like the pictures.”

Other dinosaurs featured in the What’s so Special series, by Nicky Dee, include the Diplodocus, Leaellynasaura, Megalosaurus and Triceratops. Each book is priced £5.99 and supported by an educational website full of games and facts. Army&You readers and Reading Force members can order four books and receive a 30 per cent discount by calling 01235 465577 and quoting 88Armyprom (£3.95 postage not included).

“A warm and caring environment, where girls can achieve and be themselves.”

The Good Schools Guide Boarding and day school for girls aged 9 to 18 on the Dorset/Wiltshire border Scholarships available as well as an HM Forces and Diplomatic Services Award | 01747 852416 | 30 Army&You winter 2016


e ey K th on U in M he d or n t e ke e f ls i uid an lu oo s G *R 0 Va Sch hool c 1 p ng d S To rdi Goo a * Bo

Year 7 & 9

Scholarship & Assessment Day 3rd & 4th February 2017

School transport service to Heathrow with stop-offs along M4 corridor at Exeats and School holidays. Current Forces parents offer a buddy scheme offering advice on choosing a school for your child. Many years experience of educating and nurturing Forces children. A close community where everyone counts and warmth and support purvey. The Good Schools Guide recently paid us a visit and as part of a glowing review said,

“This is one of the happiest schools we’ve ever visited…it is cool to work… pupils work hard out of inspired interest and loyalty to the teachers”.

Independent Day and Boarding Education for Boys and Girls aged 7 – 18

For more information or to arrange a school visit please contact Mrs Margaret Stephens (Admissions Registrar)

on 01874 615440 or email

Exceptional hammock made by Albie (age 16).


Sat 11th March & Sat 20th May 9.00 - 10.30am




Boarding and Flexi Boarding in a top Surrey school for boys and girls aged 7-18. Full boarding less than £4,800 per term.


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

• 100% full boarding boys’ prep school • Fortnightly exeat weekends • Glorious rural setting • Excellent academic record • Bursaries available Ludgrove, Wokingham, Berks RG40 3AB · 0118 978 9881 ·

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winter 2016 Army&You 31

19/08/2016 16:13


Life after school AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott highlights our work with the University of Winchester, which is investigating how Service children progress into higher education and exploring their destinations after they leave the classroom…


AM continually looking at progression and education experiences of Service children from early years through to higher education. The University of Winchester’s research found that four-out-of-ten Service children who are able to attend university do not do so. Earlier this year, it held a conference to explore options and possible barriers. AFF was involved on your behalf. We ran a workshop and were represented on the conference panel; we also raised a question regarding debt, comparing stats from before the introduction of university fees to now.

places. How much impact does mobility have on career advice and how do schools reach out to Service families? Is debt seen differently from a military family perspective? What is the greatest influence in school? Collecting data is a priority. More research could ensure every Service child reaches their full potential whether it’s a university course, direct employment or apprenticeship. Long-term research which is school-based and child-led will have maximum effect. Keep an eye on for news on AFF’s research symposium next year.

WHAT IS THE RESEARCH LOOKING AT? Questions revolve around a worldwide education experience including the devolved areas of the UK and access to university

For details on Winchester’s research, go to or email me with comments or questions at &

PRIDE & PROGRESS FOR SERVICE KIDS Even though she’s watched the University of Winchester’s military children education film before, Lucy Scott admits it still makes her cry. Here, she tells us why… THERE is nothing quite like seeing Service children explaining the impact that Army life has had on them. “I’m so proud”; “I can cry in the group at school as everyone feels the same”; and “I know that those friends are never going to last” are quotes

32 Army&You winter 2016

where the raw truth pulls at your heart strings. Winchester University created this film to give a voice and an insight into the lives of Service children, particularly for those who work with them. It features a wide age range of

children and one of the key themes is about asking for help. As one student aptly put it: “Military children are still children [and] Service children need to know that you [teachers] will understand.” The film will be played in schools,

given to local authorities and other interested organisations. If you would like to watch the powerful film yourself, head to YouTube and search for ‘Service children Winchester’. &



Proud moment: Youngsters from St David’s School in Ramstein, Germany, take part in the Children’s University end-of-year graduation ceremony

Learning you can take with you


E KNOW our children best. We are there for them in every posting and are the constant in their lives. Learning opportunities that link one posting to another are hugely welcomed, and the Children’s University (CU) does just that. The charity encourages, tracks and celebrates learning beyond the classroom, as Liam Nolan, head of communications and stakeholder engagement at CU, explained: “We work with more than 1,000

schools and 100,000 independent learners. “Children discover a love of learning by choosing what they learn and trying new experiences. “Young CU graduates know what success feels like and see themselves and the world differently. Importantly, they are motivated to continue their learning journeys.”

WHAT’S INVOLVED? It’s open to children aged 5-14, who take part at school. They accumulate learning hours and stamps, with a

graduation event at the end of the year. “We have a newspaper club, loom bands club, computer club, superstars and a German club,” said one youngster from St David’s School in Ramstein, Germany – an SCE school that runs the CU. Southmead Primary in Devon strives to develop the best links it can with Service families at the nearby camp. Headteacher Gill Gillett said: “We joined the CU to raise excitement, participation and aspiration for children. “Research shows

children who become engaged in extra-curricular activities have more positive attitudes and better learning outcomes.” CU coordinator Sarah Davies highlighted how the scheme recognises the commitment shown by young people: “The passport helps children record their participation and the scheme rewards them with awards for their efforts. “Recognition is a great motivator.”

SIGN UP NOW Ask your school for details and if they haven’t signed up

yet, why not pop in for a chat? Take this article with you or find out more at childrens If your school

runs this scheme, AFF’s Education & Childcare Specialist, Lucy Scott would love to hear from you. Email her at & winter 2016 Army&You 33


Girls 3 - 18

A life-changing education is closer than you think. PAY ONLY 10% OF THE FEES, AROUND £900 PER TERM* *This applies to Service Families who are eligible for the Continuity of Education Allowance, entering the School 2017/18. Additional means-tested support, subject to availability, may be offered to families who lose the CEA.

Sparkling WITH



Farleigh School is a leading Catholic co-educational prep school near Andover for boarders and day pupils aged 3-13

34 Army&You winter 2016

Come and see us at our next Open Morning Spring Open Morning - Saturday 11th March 2017 Register at:




TRUST IN EDUCATION ARE you or your school looking for funding for educational reasons? If so, the following charities are worth checking out to see what support they can offer... CHARITABLE EDUCATIONAL SUPPORT: The Forces Children Education Trust SCOTLAND’S ARMED FORCES CHARITY: Royal Caledonian Education Trust

School report

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

How does the school help Service children settle in?

In addition to information sent out before joining giving details of the daily routines, the children are invited to a taster day and night where they have the opportunity to meet other boarders and experience staying over in the boarding house. In the first week of term, all boarders have a fantastic Saturday night and a trip out on Sunday.

ool Name of sch .uk) Chafyn Grove (


Salisbury, Wiltshire Number of s Service pupil

41 out of 290 boarders and day pupils

What practical support do you give Service pupils?

All our pupils have daily contact with their tutor. Any changes to their family circumstances will be reported to staff so that they are aware if a parent is about to deploy, for example. We have a Head of Pastoral Care who keeps close links with any pupils who need extra support; a school counsellor and a ‘listening ear’ who comes in weekly with her dog to spend time with any boarders who might need someone else to talk to.

Are there any military links?

Several members of staff are ex-military. Our ethos of sport and hard work in a relaxed and supportive environment with a strong leaning towards outdoor pursuit, leadership and teamwork, suits many children from military families.

Are there any special projects involving Service children?

The school’s annual Remembrance service.

What do the kids say?

“The staff, teachers and matrons understand when you are upset and have the experience to deal with it easily,” said one Service pupil. Another highlighted the benefits of flexible boarding: “I love it when my mum surprises me and turns up at school to take me out for supper.”

And the parents?

One military family said: “Chafyn Grove has been the best gift our family could wish for, for a boy who had previously been completely messed around.” &

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

SERVICE STORIES HIT THE STAGE MORE than 9,000 children and staff in 60 Scottish schools will benefit from a touring theatre performance. Forces Kids Live features hardhitting messages highlighting a boy’s anxieties around his dad’s deployment and the challenges of taking on extra responsibilities at home, while still adjusting to life at a new school. The roadshow has been commissioned for a second time by the Royal Caledonian Education Trust (RCET), following a grant from the Armed Forces Community Covenant Fund, and will be performed by Hopscotch Theatre Company in this academic year. RCET’s fundraising development manager Matthew Middler said: “This is a significant award which will go a long way to raising awareness of the impact of deployment on some school-age pupils and the feelings of isolation they can sometimes experience.” Find out more at www. or contact AFF Education Specialist Lucy Scott at

winter 2016 Army&You 35

N e M x

on t B da oa y 6 rd M in ar g ch T 20 ou 17 r


“Dauntsey’s is ... Fab”

The Good Schools Guide Boarding & Day School Co-educational 11-18 ArmyandYou Winter 2016.indd 1

B oarding West Lavington, Devizes, Wiltshire SN10 4HE T. 01380 814500

17/10/2016 14:15:48


H azlegrove

A community where your child can really belong, where they can grow in confidence and self-esteem and make lifelong friendships... Evenings and weekends are packed with activities and fun - there is always something going on for the children to enjoy in the company of their friends! Pastoral care is excellent with more than 30 adults resident on site looking after nearly 100 boarders.

...making the most of childhood Join us for one of our

Open Mornings on Tuesday 31 January or Saturday 4 February at 11am or make an appointment to come and meet us. For more information call Sarah-Jane on 01963 442606 36 Army&You winter 2016

Hazlegrove, Sparkford BA22 7JA @ArmyandYou


Added-value education While the majority of teaching takes place in the classroom, an increasing amount of lessons are being learned outside of it thanks to an exciting array of extra-curricular activities. We explore why desk-bound days of schooling are a thing of the past...


OR schools up and down the country, empowering pupils to excel in exams sits at the heart of their mission. But alongside the drive for good grades sits a parallel responsibility to provide an enriching programme of extracurricular activities. The recognition of the value of lessons learned outside the classroom

has heralded the introduction of an enviable array of opportunities for children from Service families. Those with an interest in sport can try their hands at everything from rugby and swimming to horse riding and sailing, while pupils less interested in physical activity can take their pick from craft clubs, debating societies and cookery and fashion groups.

The variety ensures there is an activity for everyone – something Simon Barber, headteacher of Ludgrove School, believes is vital to providing a truly enriching education. “We believe that extra-curricular activities are fundamental to a child’s development,” he explained. “It is outside of the classroom that children learn and build the skills to

give them confidence and develop their characters.” Katie Walker, deputy head of Salisbury’s Chafyn Grove School, agrees. “Extracurricular activities are massively important to a child’s education,” she said. “They give the chance to try new sports, gain confidence ad develop skills for life, whether in the arts, sport or for the world

of work.” The benefits extra-curricular activities bring to the educational mix are well-respected at Dunblane’s Queen Victoria School. “We place a premium on [them],” said headteacher Donald Shaw. “They provide every student with a high level of ‘value-added’ learning whilst also giving them a break from academic work.” ››

winter 2016 Army&You 37

Picture credits (clockwise from top left): Christ College Brecon; Ludgrove School; Dauntsey’s; Wellington Academy; St Mary’s Shaftesbury.

“Extra-curricular activities enable a child to build their resilience, their self-confidence and a sense of who they are and what they do.”

KEY TO THE CURRICULUM Providing an enriching schedule of outof-classroom offerings is so intrinsic at Surrey’s Royal Alexandra and Albert School (RAAS) that the activities are referred to as co- rather than extra-curricular and sit alongside the taught curriculum. Anne Vaughan, head of co-curricular, explained: “They form part of pupils’ everyday learning experience.” Christ College Brecon headteacher Emma Taylor agreed and labelled the activities as fundamental to the education of the “whole person”. She told us: “Knowledge and skills gained in the classroom are at the core of education, but they are far from being the whole story if we are to ensure young people are really equipped for life after school.” The whole-person ethos is also found at Shaftesbury’s St Mary’s School. Headmistress Mary Arnal regards extracurricular activities as providing the “building blocks” of rounded pupils. “Building confidence, a strong mind and body and providing creative outlets for our girls is important from the moment they arrive, no matter their age,” she added. The approach is shared by Monmouth School for Girls. Nyree Clayton, the assistant head of co-curricular education, said: “It is DIRECTORY

From football and swimming to cookery and drama, today’s pupils enjoy an enviable choice of extracurricular activities. We asked schools to name their five most popular clubs... 38 Army&You winter 2016

important that pupils who want to work hard at their studies understand the value of activities that allow them to leave behind the classroom and free their minds.”

Mastering a new hobby or refining a particular sporting skill may be the immediate benefits of participating in extra-curricular activities, but the potential positives run much deeper. For Mark Lascelles, headmaster of Dauntsey’s, additional clubs allow pupils to build their characters. The school operates a bespoke “adventure education” programme designed specifically to inspire participants into pushing their own boundaries. “What is learnt outside the classroom can have a profound effect on a child’s self-confidence, ability to think around a problem and willingness to persist when things aren’t straightforward,” he said. “It’s all part of building resilience for life – understanding risk and not shying away from it is an important life skill.” In Kent, pupils at the Forces-friendly Duke of York’s Royal Military School get to choose the clubs that interest them most, allowing them to build their personalities as they go. “Extra-curricular activities are important to help develop a well-rounded individual,”

said director of sport Shane Cloete. “The programme affords each pupil the opportunity to explore new activities and gives them the chance to shine and develop in their own way, thus helping to enrich the full holistic approach to education.” With obvious recognition within education of the value of developing young people’s personalities, Tania Davidson of Tidworth’s Wellington Academy is an advocate of the character-forming experiences provided outside of academic settings. She said: “A rich and well-balanced extra-curricular programme allows children to grow and progress in a wide range of areas that are not necessarily represented within a classroom context. “It enables a child to build their resilience, their self-confidence and a sense of who they are and what they do.” Queen Victoria School’s packed schedule of extra-curricular activities is designed not only to build future character, but to help pupils make the most of the present. “Employers love to see that you’ve chosen to improve your learning and add to your skills whilst at school,” he said. “Even before you leave, though, doing a hobby you really enjoy will help take your mind off the stresses and strains of a busy life. Hobbies are good for the soul!”



Where: Salisbury, Wilts

Where: West Lavington, Wilts

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Football 2. Drama 3. Art 4. Bushcraft 5. Lego engineering

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Devizes-to-Westminster canoe race 2. Tall ship sailing 3. Music 4. Dance 5. Drama





EDUCATION ADVERTORIAL as out of it. “Studies have shown that activities help children develop important life skills,” she explained. “Even more significantly, they give children the opportunity to recharge. “This has an impact on their overall behaviour and well-being, which in turn helps them to focus on their academic studies.”

As impressive as the commitment to extra-curricular education is, almost more remarkable is the way in which schools squeeze the extra activities into an alreadypacked teaching schedule. Chafyn Grove fits music ensembles ranging from the ukulele to the flute into lunchtime or before-school practices, while pupils in the preparatory school get to try one of 20 activities every Monday and Thursday between 3:30 and 4:40. Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools operates its co-curricular programme before, during and after the school day, with boarders’ activities running until 9.30pm and at weekends. Thursday afternoons are set aside for activities at Ludgrove School – where tutors monitor each child’s progress to ensure they make the most of the opportunities

available to them – while St Mary’s School schedules an extended lunch break and facilitates evening and weekend sessions for boarding and day pupils. A school day finishing at 3pm allows students at Wellington Academy to truly engage with the extra-curricular activities , while Dauntsey’s School schedules two long breaks into each day to also runs a weekly “Moonrakers” club for all third form pupils. Mark Lascelles explained: “They spend an afternoon a week on outdoor activities – they might be kayaking, learning selfdefence, mountain climbing or cooking outdoors. “Whatever activity is involved, they are learning teamwork and stretching themselves mentally and physically.” As well as enjoying activities in the evening, youngsters at the Duke of York’s Royal Military School have the extracurricular programme integrated into their academic timetable. And Emma Taylor of Christ College Brecon looks at the timetable juggling act as a matter of simple mathematics. “If we spend eight hours on academic work per day and eight hours sleeping, there are still another eight for all the sport, music, drama and outward bound and Service activities we also value,” she said.




Where: Dover, Kent

Where: Brecon, Wales

Where: Monmouth, Wales

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Trampolining 2. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme 3. Photography 4. Climbing 5. Drama

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Sports, especially rugby, football and netball 2. Combined Cadet Force 3. Music, including choirs 4. Drama 5. Debating

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Sports 2. Dance 3. Choirs 4. Cookery 5. Ceramics





Picture credits (clockwise from top left): Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools; Duke of York’s Royal Military School; Dauntsey’s; St Mary’s Shaftesbury; Royal Alexandra and Albert School

Children growing up with military parents may be more awake to adventure than most, so providing them with exciting opportunities is a fundamental part of Hazlegrove School’s offering. Assistant head of boarding Regan Schreiber said: “Extra-curricular activities teach children a variety of important life skills, such as tolerance, acceptance and patience. But in a world that is becoming more and more sanitised, the activities should challenge children and grow in them a spirit of adventure, a degree of risk-taking and confidence. “Children will then embrace challenges and thrive in situations that test them, not shy away from the extraordinary.” Helping young people discover and develop their identities is a key consideration at Ludgrove, with Simon Barber pointing out the future benefits. “It is through their extra-curricular activities that children develop their characters and personal identity,” he said. “With so many youngsters achieving such brilliant grades at A-Level and university, it is what makes someone an interesting individual that is increasingly important.” RAAS’ Anne Vaughan points to the fact that extra-curricular activities can have just as profound an effect inside the classroom

“If we spend eight hours per day on academic work and eight hours sleeping, there are still another eight for all the sport, music, drama and Service activities we also value.”

winter 2016 Army&You 39

Picture credits (clockwise from top left): Chafyn Grove; Ludgrove School; Wellington Academy; Royal Alexandra and Albert School; Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools

“Being at a boarding school, students don’t have to be encouraged to do hobbies – they do them because it’s a great idea to keep busy, especially when you first start.”

“And a bit of time to eat!”

PROMOTING PARTICIPATION With busy academic lives to navigate, pupils might be forgiven for wanting to spend their free time relaxing rather than taking on extra activities. But the appeal of trying something new is enough to coax even the most hesitant child into engaging with extra-curricular activity. RAAS’ Anne Vaughan explained that her school sends the co-curricular programme to all parents at the beginning of every term to whet pupils’ appetites. “This allows parents time to sit down and go through the activities with their child and select the ones that interest them.” Ensuring youngsters are given a steady stream of fresh challenges is key to the approach at Hazlegrove School. Regan Schreiber said that form tutors and houseparents work hard to ensure all children enjoy and are committed to their chosen activities. He added: “Each term brings with it a whole new range of exciting activities and clubs – at least nine each day. “There is a wide range of activities, with a good balance of outdoor/indoor and physical/less physical on offer, such as art, drama, chess, outdoor education, cooking

and flight simulators.” Those in years seven and eight at Duke of York’s Royal Military School are asked to pick at least three activities to take part in each week, with senior students selecting a minimum of two from a diverse line-up spanning everything from textiles and choirs to photography and languages. Variety is also the spice of life at Dauntsey’s School, where pupils pick two clubs per week ranging from debating and chess to cheerleading and street dance. House mistress Ann Jackson said: “Work and extra-curricular activities are integral parts of everyday life. “House staff and tutors encourage and support pupils to ensure that they keep on top of their academic work, but also make the most of any opportunities on offer.” Christ College Brecon expects all of its pupils to take part in sport three-to-four times each week and operates non-sporting options such as drama and house singing. Children are encouraged to engage with the process through the award of school colours for excellence in any area. With so many exciting opportunities available, it is no surprise that Queen Victoria School does not have to try too hard to entice pupils to participate in activities outside of the classroom.

“Being at a boarding school, students don’t have to be encouraged to do hobbies,” said Donald Shaw. “They do them because it’s a great idea to keep busy, especially when you first start. Keeping busy helps stave off homesickness and helps you get a good sleep at night.” Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls borrows the freshers’ fayre format found at many universities to promote its own cocurricular programme. Nyree Clayton explained: “Tutors and heads of year communicate an expectation that all pupils should take advantage of the activities on offer. “Screens around school advertise activities and display a co-curricular timetable. Clubs and societies are celebrated in assemblies and in the half-termly publication Highlights. The outstanding facilities on offer at many schools grant pupils access to a huge range of activities that can be out of the reach of other establishments. Mary Arnal, of St Mary’s School, explained: “We emphasise availability, especially for older girls. The campus-like nature of our estate means girls can take part in leisure swims, work out in the state-of-the-art fitness suite or use 55 acres of gorgeous countryside for walking or running.”




Where: Sparkford, Somerset

Where: Wokingham, Berkshire

Where: Reigate, Surrey

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Cooking 2. Sport, including kayaking and horse riding 3. Music and drama 4. Creative crafts including knitting and sewing 5. Outdoor activities such as den building in the woods

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Outdoor skills 2. Mountain biking 3. Carpentry 4. Tennis 5. Cross-country running

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Swimming 2. Football 3. Cookery 4. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme 5. Trampolining




40 Army&You winter 2016



Of all its positive traits, it is the characterbuilding benefits of a rounded extracurricular programme that Ludgrove’s Simon Barber believes should play a key part in parents’ thinking. “All schools should be teaching well

academically and achieving good results,” he said. “However, it is the individual that matters and a school has a responsibility to each child to find and develop skills and interests out of the classroom to help the individual shine amongst others.” Haberdashers’ Nyree Clayton pointed to the “personalised and individual” experience that pupils get from a good co-curricular provision, while St Mary’s Mary Arnal suggested that parents should consider more than end-of-term grades for proof of the value of their child’s education. She explained: “It’s essential to look beyond a results-driven approach to discover how a school will nurture – and help your child discover – their own talents. “Understanding yourself is just as important as understanding an academic curriculum and having ‘transferable’ and ‘soft’ skills is essential for a successful and happy life beyond the school walls.” Duke of York’s Royal Military School’s Shane Cloete concluded: “It is vitally important for a child’s development and well-being. “When looking at the holistic approach to education, a well-structured, enthusiastic extra-curricular programme should be key to a parent’s decision – especially in the boarding environment.” n




Where: Dunblane, Scotland

Where: Shaftesbury, Dorset

Where: Tidworth, Wiltshire

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Archery 2. Piping, drumming and dancing 3. Rugby 4. Arts and crafts 5. MAD charity fundraising group

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Dance 2. Open-water scuba diving 3. Debating 4. Enterprise 5. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme

Top five extra-curricular activities: 1. Combined Cadet Force 2. Duke of Edinburgh’s Award Scheme 3. Christmas show 4. Music 5. Language clubs




additional resources afforded to fee-paying establishments means there may be greater opportunities on the table. “It is likely that the range of extras that fee-paying schools can offer will enrich a child’s life,” said Katie Walker of Chafyn Grove. “Schools such as ours look for staff who have skills and enthusiasm beyond their subject specialism. These teachers can fire the interest of children in crafts, minority sports or the performing arts.” Mark Lascelles urges parents to place equal importance on their child’s interests when picking a school. “At Dauntsey’s, extra-curricular activities are not ‘extra’,” he said. “I always tell my pupils to have a sense of adventure and try something new. Every day I see the consequences, both in our school community and in classrooms where pupils have a deeper understanding of how they function, greater self-esteem and a renewed energy and confidence in their abilities.”


Picture credits (clockwise from top left): Royal Alexandra and Albert School; Haberdashers’ Monmouth Schools; Chafyn Grove; Duke of York’s Royal Military School; Ludgrove School

Parents searching for the best school for their children rightly place an emphasis on the quality of the academic education. But the recognition of the value of wellrounded schooling means that what goes on outside of the classroom is increasingly as important as the lessons within. RAAS’ Anne Vaughan said: “Schools are about more than their academic provision. From fencing and scuba diving to horse riding and kayaking, we have so many sports that one is bound to grab your child’s attention.” Emma Taylor, of Christ College Brecon, backed the idea that education is about much more than exams. “While academic results are the key to the door of university, they are not all there is to education,” she said. “Our goal is to develop healthy, happy, purposeful, interesting and ambitious young people and these aims are supported by a wide range of activities that develop pupils’ interests. “I strongly recommend that parents think, when choosing a school, not only about interests that their child might already have, but about the exciting possibility of discovering new talents and interests.” While extra-curricular activities are a key part of most schools’ make-ups, the

“I recommend that parents think not only about interests that their child might already have, but about the exciting possibility of discovering new talents and interests.”

winter 2016 Army&You 41

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Autumn 2016

Winter 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}



HOUSING What’s your ideal home?


How to boost your skills when posted overseas



{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Basic training

Everything you need to know about apprenticeships

HOUSING CarillionAmey chief answers your questions

MOTORING Our guide to hitting the open road

EMPLOYMENT Meet the spouses overcoming career challenges



Army&You Army&You Summer 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

Spring 2016

{for everyone with a soldier in their life}

golden girl Ice-cool Olympian Amy on marrying into the military

Settling in style


Our guide to finding and funding your forever home

top tips to manage your money

DIRECT SELLING How to turn your passion into profit



‘THE ARMY WAS FAULTLESS’ How the Services supported one family and their seriously-ill baby



Featuring heating advice, common questions and a look at military housing options

HOUSING Q&A Q. What are the rules on returning furniture to the MOD? Traditionally you are allowed one collection per occupancy. For a first request, furniture will be collected/delivered within five working days and any subsequent requests will be actioned when the company is in the area – usually within ten working days. To request a collection/delivery, go to and complete the form, or call 0800 707 6000.

Cold season's hot topic After many Service families experienced issues with boiler repairs last winter, here is a rundown of what you can expect from CarillionAmey (CA) should your heating break down… l Call the CA helpdesk on 0800 707 6000 and tell them as accurately as you can what the problem is – this helps them to diagnose the fault and send out the correct contractor – for example if you have an oil fired boiler. l The helpdesk may ask you to try a few simple things to see

if you can resolve the issue yourself. l If the phone advice doesn’t work, the helpdesk will raise a critical response. l The contractor will arrive within three hours and hopefully fix the boiler. If they need a part or a new boiler then they must make sure that your immersion heater is working (and/or

any electric shower). Within 12 hours, they should have dropped off some temporary heaters. l If the contractor cannot get your immersion heater or any electric shower working and you have no hot water and no heating, then CA will arrange a hotel or alternative accommodation for you.

l So long as you have heaters and hot water, CA will arrange for a new appointment to be made within five working days to fully repair the boiler. If the above doesn’t match your experience this winter, then make sure that you log an official complaint with CA (get a reference number) and let AFF know by emailing &

Q. If MOD furniture is damaged, how are charges determined? At move-out, the accommodation officer (AO) will assess the furniture and raise any charges. The furniture will stay in your SFA until after move-out. Charges are based on the lowest price of a new item: Fair wear and tear: no charge Minor repairs: no charge Major repairs, more serious but repairable: 50 per cent charge Beyond economic repair: 75 per cent charge Loss: price of a new item. Q. How long do you have to hand over your old quarter once you have moved? A. Up to 14 days in order to clean. During this time you will only be charged for your new SFA. If you take more than 14 days, you will be charged for both SFA unless you can show the delay was due to Service reasons. Q. What are the rules on decorating your quarter? You must ask CA for permission and any changes will have to be put back to the original colour before you move out or you may be charged. The AO will let you know at the pre-move out appointment what they will need you to do in order to pass at move-out. winter 2016 Army&You 43


How we live ey received a Earlier this year, AFF’s Big Surv n we asked record number of responses whe y family. The how you want to live as an Arm as it plans results will help inform the MOD used in the how Service families will be ho Accommodation coming years under the Future Army&You Model – see page nine for more. fferent types of spoke to six families living in di t works for them accommodation to find out wha had to make… and what compromises they’ve l AFF co-ordinator or contact our re of Army housing, talk to your loca Army, the If you feel strongly about the futu ting regularly with ministers, the AFF will be mee Housing Specialist, Cat Calder at aff.o at ey Surv Big report of our t your views. You can read the full FAM team and others to represen

44 Army&You winter 2016



The Hunt family Accommodation: Four-bedroom, new-build SFA Location: Andover Number of postings: 12 Children/pets: Two girls and one Labrador

The Ingram family Accommodation: Own home Location: Scotland Number of postings: 16 in five countries Children/pets: Two boys

Plus points (spouse Alison): The key for us has been to provide a stable education for our girls through boarding school, until this year when the local sixth form provided a better option. I haven’t followed one career path because of moving, but I have always found work and this has helped to establish a local friendship group in addition to the patch social life. Our new-build house has a modern feel and it’s nice to have a modern kitchen and functioning boiler!

Drawbacks: As the girls have got older, the lack of local friends during the school holidays has become an increasing issue.

Ideal way to live: I come from an Army family, so moving regularly is a part of my life. Understanding the system and carefully choosing our postings has allowed us to be flexible and we have made it work.

Plus points (spouse Carol): Our main reason for buying our own house was stability for our two children, both of whom are on the autism spectrum and require specialist education and support. Scotland is an area I know well and I have family support for the first time in 20 years, which is a major bonus. We can also afford it, which would not be the case in many areas, and we have already established a family home for when my husband retires in about five years’ time.

Drawbacks: We miss being part of patch life and having the support of other families – although we still go to events on a patch nearby – and it takes time to get to know your neighbours in the civilian world.

Ideal way to live: I think for the majority of people SFA works; I can’t imagine the added stress of having to find a home every time you are posted on top of everything else. It worked very well for us for many years, and I think it would be to the detriment of life as an Army family if SFA was no longer available.

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The Thompson family Accommodation: Private Finance Initiative (PFI) home Location: Suffolk Number of postings: Four Children/pets: Five kids and one dog

The Hogg family Accommodation: SFA Location: Giffnock, Glasgow, with no Army support Number of postings: Three in eight years Children/pets: Two boys

Plus points (soldier Phil): This is by far the most modern and best maintained Army home we have lived in. We are happy to pay the premium for it. We have moved around as a family and notice how sociable our children are. They have had to make friends quickly and are always confident in a group where they don’t know anyone.

Drawbacks: I don’t think the Army system takes the stress out of moving. We should be given more flexibility to move during a school holiday either before or after the posting start date. I have five days’ relocation leave to pack, unpack, settle in and clean a property to move-out standard, the same as a single soldier who has one room. Our biggest issue is my wife’s career. She feels that she has been turned down for jobs because she is an Army wife.

Ideal way to live: We desperately want our own house but there has never been the option to be posted within the garrison area. Stability to us means being located together as a family for a decent amount of time, combined with regular working hours.

46 Army&You winter 2016

Plus points (spouse Helen): I believe that moving around can make us stronger people and it teaches us to be versatile and adaptable. The children are definitely developing stronger characters because of this. For us, stability means keeping the family settled and together and following a routine.

Drawbacks: Our house has a large garden but an awkward internal layout and it’s in need of a lot of work. There’s no Army community or support here and the other half is away so much of the time, often without much notice. We have never received a posting from our shortlist which has led to moving to areas we would not have chosen. Regularly leaving friends is hard for both the children and myself; getting started in new schools and/or rebuilding my career is definitely a setback.

Ideal way to live: Having more structure, being kept in the loop and knowing when things are going to happen would help our Army life. When a posting has been given, it shouldn't be changed several times.



The Hickman family Accommodation: Substitute Service Families Accommodation

Location: Andover Number of postings: Six in eight years Children/pets: One daughter and a cat

The Earl family Accommodation: Three-bedroom SFA overseas Location: Dhekelia, Cyprus Number of postings: One Children: Stepson (9) who visits in the holidays

Plus points (spouse Isobel): This is the first period of stability for us in recent times as we will be staying here for at least two years and have been able to make both military and civilian friends. Even though we’ve had what feels like housemoving whiplash up to now, I have enjoyed living in different places and meeting some wonderful people.

Drawbacks: Living in SSFA initially meant that there was a lot of uncertainty whether we would find a place in time for my husband’s new job to start. You can only look at what’s available in the coming month, so it’s more stressful and ‘last minute’ than normal SFA allocations. Maintenance can sometimes be a slow process with a middle man contractor acting on behalf of military tenants. They contact the estate agent, who contacts the landlord to approve any repairs.

Ideal way to live: We would like to live and work in an area for a longer period of time to gain more family stability and enable us to buy our own property without the obstacle of moving every few years.

Plus points (spouse Elizabeth): I am lucky and have a job so I have been able to create stability for myself outside of our house and family. We have an amazing view and a beautiful garden that I have cultivated since living here.

Drawbacks: The main compromise for us has been over the choice of house, the size and the location. As I work from home, I need a study so we are limited to the number of guests we can have here. Stability really depends on whether my husband is away. We’re a long way from family support networks and public transport and facilities for children are limited. Living on a holiday island means that travelling anywhere during the holidays is very expensive.

Ideal way to live: I would like to be based closer to my university so I have the option to lecture there. We would love our own home and not having to move every two years. However, living unaccompanied would place huge strain on us, so the only option is to relocate as and when my husband is posted.

winter 2016 Army&You 47

HEALTH IN BRIEF ➤ AGAI 108 is the Army General Administrative Instructions for career management and supportability checking for serving personnel whose family members have disabilities and/or additional needs. AFF is pleased that AGAI 108 has been updated so that it is current and reflects government policy. It is mandatory to register a family member’s additional need and/or disability if you are serving in the Army. Registering will ensure that any extra support required is recognised by the chain of command. Your soldier should complete the Career Management Notification Proforma (Annex A) – their Unit Welfare Officer or Regimental Admin Officer can assist with this. It’s advisable to keep a copy. Children with Special Educational Needs will be automatically registered with the Children’s Education Advisory Service which can help with a range of issues. Service personnel are also encouraged to notify the chain of command of any family members who are waiting for diagnosis or clarification of a disability. To access AGAI 108, visit the additional needs pages at www. ➤ A NEW policy has been launched explaining the process that you and your soldier should follow if you are considering assisted conception services or fertility preservation. This ensures that chain of command is aware so that support and geographical stability can be considered, if required. Your soldier can access the policy through the military intranet (DII) – DIN 2016DIN01-052, Assisted Conception and Fertility Policy or contact additionalneeds@

48 Army&You winter 2016

Don’t forget the doctor Moving is often a juggling act and with so much to think about, some things don’t always make it to the top of the list, such as finding a new GP. A number of Army families have found it difficult to register with a doctor, and some of you have contacted us with problems around transferring patient records, either within the UK or overseas. Karen Ross, AFF Health & Additional Needs Specialist, has been investigating some of the issues you’re experiencing…

“I am finding it difficult to find an NHS GP.” The HIVE can provide information about GP practices in your new location or you could ask friends or neighbours living in the area. The NHS Choices Armed Forces Healthcare page – available via – has specific links to finding GP practices.

“My daughter has just turned 18 and has been told she can no longer remain registered at the Defence Primary Healthcare (DPHC) practice. Is this right?” Once your child reaches 18 they will not be able to remain registered with the DPHC practice. However, there are some exceptions to this rule: l If your child normally lives with you and has a diagnosed physical or mental illness or condition which makes them dependent on you. l A child who is single and normally resident in the home of the Service person, who for compassionate reasons such as the death or chronic ill health of the spouse/civil partner, needs to act as their carer.

Before your patient records can be transferred, it’s best to inform the practice that you are moving. Patients can only be registered with one practice at a time and this includes DPHC centres. So if you are moving from the NHS to Defence Medical Services (DMS) overseas, you will have to register with a DPHC practice. Your records should follow you by paper transfer because technology doesn’t allow for the movement of electronic records between the NHS and DMS. If you or a member of your family have a medical condition or require ongoing treatment, it is helpful to ask for a copy of your relevant patient notes. Since 2015, NHS GPs should give everyone free access to a summary of their records. There are plans within the NHS to enable web-based access to your records and Service families are particularly encouraged to look at this option, as it will enable improved continuity of care.

“I am currently posted overseas and needed some medical information. I contacted my last UK surgery to find that my records have been ‘deducted’ and I have to pay to access my own medical notes.” Usually NHS medical notes should follow you on an overseas assignment if you are registered with a DPHC practice. You should not be charged for access to your medical records but this situation may occur if you are not registered with a DPHC practice overseas.

Get in touch with AFF The Armed Forces Covenant states that Service families should not be disadvantaged due to their military lifestyle when accessing services and this includes healthcare. If you are experiencing issues with GP registration or transfer/ access to medical notes, contact Karen at additionalneeds@aff. &

“My NHS patient notes have not followed me on posting. When I went to the doctors it was assumed, due to gaps in my medical history, that the last time I had been to the doctors was more than six years ago.” @ArmyandYou




SECOND HOME TAX RULE IN APRIL 2016, the government introduced higher rates of Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on purchases of additional residential properties, such as second homes and buyto-let properties. The

higher rates are three per cent above the standard SDLT tariffs. If you own more than one property at the end of the day of transaction, you will be subject to the higher rate of SDLT but may

be eligible for a refund if the property you are selling is your main residence. AFF is currently investigating whether HMRC regard SFA as a main residence and how this policy may

affect Army families. For more info, visit gov. uk and search ‘SDLT consultation’. If this policy has affected you, please email our Allowances & Money Specialist at

DOES the non-serving partner in your family earn less than £11,000? If so, you could pay less tax by applying for the Marriage Allowance. The benefit lets couples transfer a proportion of the amount you can earn tax-free each tax year between you. To apply you must be married or in a civil partnership, one of you must earn under £11,000 and the other must be a basic rate taxpayer. Across the UK, only 10 per cent of eligible couples claim the allowance. You can register at any point in the tax year to gain full benefits. To apply, visit uk/marriage-allowance

MAKING SENSE OF YOUR TAX THE Low Income Tax Reform Group is a charity which works to improve the policy and processes of tax, and associated welfare, to support those on low incomes. It’s produced a handy, printable guide and a website to help ensure you’re paying the right amount of tax. Your soldier will probably receive a mix of special allowances, both taxable and non-taxable. To read a copy of the guide, check the amount of tax you should be paying and how to claim allowances and tax back from HMRC, visit tax-guides and click ‘Armed Forces and tax’.


Green light on fairer car insurance IS YOUR military family being posted overseas? Thanks to an agreement by the Association of British Insurers and the British Insurance Brokers Association, you might now be able to keep your no-claims discount safe for up to three years. Insurers may also waive fees normally charged if you need to cancel your policy at short notice due to an overseas posting. AFF has campaigned on this issue for some time and was pleased to see it discussed recently at Downing Street,

when financial services representatives and ministers addressed measures to help recognise the specific needs of Armed Forces families. If you are due to move overseas, be sure to check your policy, contact your insurer or broker directly and provide them with a letter from your soldier’s commanding officer. To find out more, including which insurance companies have signed up to the agreement, visit and search ‘Armed Forces’. &

ARE you posted overseas and have concerns about Local Overseas Allowance (LOA) and exchange rates as a result of Brexit? The purpose of the allowance is to contribute to the difference between the cost of living in the UK and your overseas location. The MOD calculates LOA rates during overseas visits; the rates are regularly reviewed, meaning you should not be out of pocket because of your posting. The value of the pound is tracked to see if a change to the Forces Fixed Rate (FFR) of exchange is necessary; any changes are published on the first of each month. If the FFR is reduced, the LOA you receive will increase, as more Sterling is needed to buy the same goods than before. However, if the FFR is increased, the LOA you receive will reduce. For more on allowances and money, visit the AFF website at

winter 2016 Army&You 49


*The course is free but there is a fee to register and to take the exams.

AFF Success: Student finance THERE has never been a better time to access training opportunities overseas thanks to campaigning by AFF. Universities Minister Jo Johnson has announced changes to student funding rules, which previously excluded you from accessing a student loan if you were not living in the UK on the first day of your course or if you were posted overseas while undertaking a course. Laura Lewin, AFF Employment & Training Specialist, said: “Training opportunities for spouses has been a key focus for us here at AFF. “The new rule enables you to access funding for a UK-based course even if you are posted overseas – meaning you will now have the same opportunities as when you are living in the UK. “On many overseas postings you are not able to work so it can be an excellent time to undertake training, maximising the chances of re-entering the workforce when you return to the UK.” If you need any guidance or advice on this, contact Laura by sending an email to Full details on the changes can be found at 50 Army&You winter 2016

Maximise your overseas learning opportunities When the novelty of safari treks, skiing the Rockies or just eating your way around Europe wears off, what can you do to make the most of your overseas posting? Army&You spoke to Esther Thomas, AFF’s Overseas Regional Manager, about the learning and employment initiatives currently available overseas.


STHER explained: “Having spent more than 14 years overseas as an Army spouse, I recognise that courses not only help keep CVs up-to-date, but they also open up new social and business networking opportunities – whilst creating some valuable ‘me’ time.” It’s not perfect everywhere,

but overseas learning is high on AFF’s agenda. Finding a job overseas can prove challenging due to employment regulations, childcare that doesn’t fully support working spouses and unreliable or expensive IT provision which prevents outreach working. As a result, many Army families overseas

find themselves on an enforced career break with free time on their hands. Whilst there are ample opportunities for volunteering with agencies such as SSAFA and local community groups, it is not for everyone. So what is the alternative? Here is a round-up of what’s going on around the world... @ArmyandYou

1. Free accounting courses for Army families If you’re interested in bolstering your employment skills, why not apply for the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants’ ACCA-X programme, which supports learners interested in accountancy and business. ACCA offers free* online courses leading to qualifications that are universally recognised – ideal for overseas postings. By registering, you gain access to the ACCA careers site, with thousands of vacancies, additional support and invitations to networking events. ACCA is offering a 50 per cent discount to Service families off the cost of exams. Make sure you mention the Army Families Federation when booking. For details, visit

2. Ralston Learning Lab

AFF at work overseas

In partnership with the Canadian Military Family Resource Centre, the Ralston Learning Lab supports British and Canadian military households. Accommodating self-directed study as well as instructor-led classes, the workshops have allowed family members to gain qualifications to add to their CVs and enhance their knowledge. Military spouse Angel Lee

said: “It’s an amazing facility. Where else would you get the opportunity to do a free diploma in mental health studies?” Check out the Ralston Learning Lab Facebook group for more or call Kerry Goldring on 001 403 544 5567.

3. RBLI LifeWorks Families LifeWorks Families is a free support service to help military spouses and partners find the job they want. The three-day course provides direction on how best to use strengths to find gainful employment, learn to cope with change in location or situation and develop key skills to apply for jobs. The course has run in Germany, Cyprus and Brunei and there are plans to expand further. Attendee Lalita Magar explained: “It was really enlightening and I am so pleased I went on it. It has really helped me with writing my CV.” Visit or call +44 (0)1622 795997

4. University of Wolverhampton Unsung Heroes Business Start-Up Course During the four-day course, participants are taught the fundamentals of starting their

EDUCATION courses in the Falklands are being expanded after AFF identified the need for greater availability. A number of courses are now on offer to families, ranging from public speaking to Spanish. If you’re able to fund the course yourself, you can also now take the European Computer Driving License (ECDL) through the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) Training Centre without having to travel to the capital, Stanley. Capt Celine Buescher explained: “Once registered for ECDL with FIG, students can use our computers here in Mount Pleasant. We are focused on extending our offering as courses are extremely popular. We hope to introduce a course in Nepali in the coming months.” BARRIERS ABROAD For more remote overseas locations, the provision of courses available to families is often dependent on the current skill sets of those posted there and in some cases, there’s little that can be offered locally.

own business and can access ongoing mentoring via Skype. The programme gives military families the skills, knowledge and confidence to run a business. AFF Co-ordinator Louise Baltrop said: “The benefit of doing this course is that families can regain some control over their futures whilst living overseas.” Kate Reid, who took a course in Cyprus, continues to develop her homeopathy business. She commented: “It was the marketing advice and how best to use social media when you are moving around that I got the most from, as well as networking with others facing the same issues.” Visit or call 01902 321272.

5. Spouse Employment Support trial (Cyprus) The trial, part of the Partner Employment Programme, has been live in British Forces Cyprus for just over a year. So far 120 spouses/partners have taken part, with training workshops provided by the Career Transition Partnership, looking at individual career aspirations, job readiness, CV advice and interview skills. There’s also a taxable grant available for training options to aid skills and improve

employability. One course participant enthused: “Before the workshop, I had started to worry about what would happen when we leave Cyprus because, like other families, I will have to start all over again with the employment search. Now I feel supported and confident about job hunting.” Contact 55 AEC Episkopi on +357 2596 3091

6. Post-graduate study Taking up post-graduate study is a wholly-independent research undertaking. There are not too many class commitments, but you do need to have an agreed plan with your tutor and be self-disciplined enough to stick to it. Cyprus-based PhD student Elizabeth Earl said: “I would have hated not having anything to do whilst posted overseas so making the most of my time has enabled me to complete a life-long dream.” Be mindful that you may need to rely on technology which doesn’t always work in overseas locations. Elizabeth admits: “If it wasn’t for technology I don’t think I would have been able to do this research and I would not have been able to take part in online discussions.” &

In Kenya, spouse Angela Lees said: “I have never been anywhere that has no adult education opportunities for dependants. Education gives people something to focus on in a country where you are not permitted to work.” Marie Parr remarked: “Any course would be of benefit, especially ECDL or first aid.” MORE WORK TO DO AFF’s Overseas Experience Survey, published in early 2016, revealed that only 20 per cent of respondents were able to access the course of their choice whilst overseas, which is why AFF continues to explore alternative and innovative delivery options with partner organisations. Esther added: “If you have any experiences you would like to share, please let us know so we can spread the word. Equally if you continue to face difficulties accessing further education or employment related learning overseas, email” l Look out for new initiatives via the AFF website at

winter winter2015 2016 Army&You Army&You 35 51


A postcard from...

JA M A I C A How long have you been an Army family? 19 years. T ime in Jamaica: Three years, but with extension we'll be here almost four. How many other military families live in Jamaica? One a Naval Assistant Defence Attache. What's your quarter like? It's a large, double-storey residence with four bedrooms on the British High Commission (BHC) compound in Jamaica's capital, Kingston. Our back yard is an acre of colourful, mature gardens, and the wider compound offers a pool, tennis court, gym and cricket nets. Kingston's litter-strewn dark sand coastline is three miles away, but picture-perfect beaches with soft, white sand are well worth the two-hour drive north. Can spouses and partners work? No paid work is allow ed outside of the BHC and jobs within are scarce, though volunteer roles are in abundance.

52 Army&You winter 2016

What about schools? Our boys board in the UK but there are a couple of international schools here, one of which is American. Where do Army families get together? We're the only Army family here but we attend socials with other staff in the compound's pool area. Who supports families? A locally employed community liaison officer provides a welcome brief and get-you-in pack and the corporate services team are excellent for prompt maintenance issues. What's the best thing about living in Jamaica? The Blue Mountains and north coast are simply stunning. Jamaica also offers the perfect springboard to the whole of the Caribbean and Central and Southern America. I am so very lucky to travel with Patrick as part of the Defence team and never take this for granted. Privileged, priceless and simply perfect!

FROM: Patrick, Jenelle, Kieran (17), Piers (13) and dog Bubble

WHERE: Jamaica



Cracking the permit puzzle AFF Foreign & Commonwealth Specialist Katherine Houlston explains biometric residence permits (BRPs) WHAT IS A BIOMETRIC RESIDENCE PERMIT? A biometric residence permit (BRP) is a document providing confirmation of your identity and proof of your right to stay, work, study and access public services in the UK. Residence permits for European Union members are currently still optional.

I HAVE A VISA IN MY PASSPORT. DO I NEED A BRP? If you came to the UK before July 2015 you would have been issued a visa in your passport. If the visa is still valid or if you have Indefinite Leave to Enter (ILE) or Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) then you are not required to apply for a BRP. Those with limited leave will receive a BRP when they apply for ILR. Those with ILE may find it easier to apply for a BRP as many people don’t understand what ILE is.

MY EMPLOYER HAS TOLD ME I NEED A BRP TO WORK, IS THIS RIGHT? No. If you have a valid visa in your passport then this alone is evidence of your right to work. Unfortunately, the guidance issued to employers

mostly talks about BRPs; the information about visas is hidden at the back, but it clearly states that "visas granting permission to come or remain in the UK will still demonstrate a right to work while they remain valid".

WHAT IF MY PASSPORT HAS EXPIRED? You will most likely need to apply for a BRP as the guidance states that the visa needs to be in a current passport.

HOW DO I APPLY? You can apply for a BRP on form NTL at a cost of £308 if you have ILE.

WHAT IF WE ARE LIVING OVERSEAS? Since July 2015, all those applying for a UK settlement visa are issued with a one-month visa. You are required to travel to the UK within that time and will need to collect your BRP from your nominated post office within ten days of arrival. F&C families on overseas assignments have been disadvantaged by this new policy, as

UKVI has not authorised any BFPOs to be used for collection and will not currently allow anyone else to collect the BRP from the UK on their behalf. So if you have had to apply for a new visa because your current one is expiring but you are not being posted back to the UK, then you have two options: l Travel to the UK at your own expense to collect the BRP. The cost of this is not refunded. l Allow the first 30-day visa to expire and apply for a new one when you wish to travel to the UK or are being posted back. This will cost £189 per person.

WHAT IS AFF DOING ABOUT IT? We have been working on this issue with Army HQ and the Home Office since last year. The Home Office is currently exploring the option of designating BFPO addresses to enable collection of BRPs overseas. Unfortunately, this is not likely to be resolved anytime soon. For guidance about BRPs and details of how to contact AFF’s F&C team, visit &

Case study Liesl Bossert (pictured) recently had to travel back to the UK to collect her BRP; she had originally tried to nominate her brother to collect it but was told this wouldn’t be possible. “I think there is a fair way to go with regards to BRPs for Army spouses living abroad. "It turns out I am not able to claim my trip back, and so I now cannot afford to apply for citizenship, due to having used part of the funds,” she said.

Here to help

JESSICA Harriman is AFF’s new Foreign & Commonwealth assistant. Jessica is the first port of call if you have an F&C enquiry and is responsible for the day-to-day management of our busy F&C service. Please visit our F&C webpages at for information on how to contact her. Jessica’s previous roles with SSAFA and as a welfare NCO have provided her with excellent background knowledge of some of the issues you face. She said: “I was attracted to the role by my strong interest in supporting the military community. F&C families are a big part of our community and I can’t wait to start offering support for those that need it.”

winter 2016 Army&You 53

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Local connections Did you know that a big focus for AFF is working with local government? Army&You spoke to Julie Lowe, our UK & Overseas Director, to find out more…


FF is currently building an important network of contacts amongst local authorities covering services including education, childcare, social housing, community development, transport, voting, employment and training. In doing so, we are highlighting the unique nature of Army family life, for local authorities to address in their strategic planning. Julie explained: “Our contacts within local authorities enable us to raise individual cases where families have had difficulties accessing services. I have seen many local authorities find a successful resolution when they realise a family has been unfairly disadvantaged.”

With this in mind, AFF exhibited at the Local Government Association Conference this year and spoke to council leaders and chief executives from authorities across England and Wales.

PROVIDING A VOICE AFF has also contributed to a key piece of research into improving the delivery of the Armed Forces Covenant in the community, commissioned by Forces in Mind Trust (FiMT) and the Local Government Association (LGA). A series of recommendations aimed at the government, MOD and local authorities included developing the relationship between military bases and authorities and, crucially, that a

core infrastructure is adopted by councils to implement the Covenant at a local level. “This will help ensure good practice by local authorities, wherever you live as an Army family,” added Julie, who also attends meetings with Wiltshire Council to represent Army families' views. Cllr Baroness Scott of Bybrook, leader of Wiltshire Council, agreed: “Wiltshire has a strong partnership with the military – as should be the case. "15,000 active military personnel are based here and we will soon see 4,000 troops, as well as an additional 2,000 dependants coming to Wiltshire from Germany.

“We are aiming to ensure the needs of military personnel, their families and veterans are met and also maximise the economic contribution of the military, as well as implementing the Covenant with public service providers and local employers.”

FURTHER INFO To read the FiMT and LGA report ‘Our Community – Our Covenant’, visit fim-trust. org or for further information on the Covenant, check out To speak to AFF about matters relating to local government or accessing their services, contact your local AFF Co-ordinator via &

Here's how some of our Co-ordinators work with local authorities...

Abi Wrigley,

Naomie Brown,

Zoe Teale,

Audrey Nealon,

Wales Co-ordinator

West Midlands Co-ordinator

Scotland Co-ordinator

London Co-ordinator

We have been forging partnerships by attending council forums with other Forces charities. We bring families’ concerns to the forefront, discuss them and try to put in place an action plan. I worked with Vale of Glamorgan Council’s contact centre – the first port of call for families to find out information about the area. I highlighted what you will find useful and, as a result, the council is looking to provide information including a list of local businesses that have signed the Covenant, such as mortgage lenders. Education can be a big change when a family moves to Wales. A trial buddy system for newlyarrived Service children has also proved successful and it is hoped this will be rolled out to all Welsh schools.

The 1st Battalion, The Royal Irish Regiment, based in Tern Hill, has worked with Shropshire Council to transform what was previously an area of unsightly waste ground into a community park. Thanks to funding from the Armed Forces Covenant, Army welfare grants and the Royal Irish Benevolent Fund, the park boasts a multi-use games area and skate park. Covenant funding was also utilised to start Connect Create, a music project offering workshops for young people. A youth club band was formed and it performed at the Theatre Severn in Shrewsbury and the Warriors Rock music festival in Tern Hill. Both these projects are based in the heart of the military and civilian community.

I attend Covenant meetings with local authorities to raise issues important to serving families. The veteran community is on the radar of many local authorities, so it’s vital that AFF balances this by getting the word out that the Covenant applies to serving families as well as veterans. I work closely on this with unit welfare officers and the chain of command. Highland Council is doing some great work and really welcomes – and seeks out – AFF’s input. Glasgow Council is currently creating a best practice template for delivering the Covenant to serving families and veterans which could be rolled out across Scotland. I have joined this working group and will ensure that the most important issues for families are included.

I work with local authorities to raise the profile of Service families. I visited Harrow Council with the chain of command at Northwood as a first step to reinvigorate relationships between the local community and the military families living in the area. They have been very keen to engage with us and, as a result, they have now set up an Armed Forces Covenant Forum which meets every quarter. They have a high veteran footfall in the area and are extremely supportive of both veterans and serving personnel.

autumn 2014 Army&You 55 35 winter 2016

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


How can I make the school run easier? Author Tanith Carey on how to get manic mornings under control... Get yourself dressed before the kids. If you tell them off for being in their pyjamas when you’re wrapped in a towel, the situation could deteriorate.

TANITH CAREY Mum-of-two and author of Mum Hacks: TimeSaving Tips to Calm the Chaos of Family Life

FURNISHING MEL PRESCOTT-DAVIES Army spouse and interiors blogger. Search social media for 'At Home with Mel Mel'

FUNDRAISING LOTTIE HAMMOND Charity and customer support lead at online portal JustGiving (

COMMUNITY FUNDING ELIZABETH FILKIN Chair of Trustees, Annington Trust (

The best way to wake children up is to open the curtains. Natural light has been found to stimulate the brain to release the hormones which naturally wake them up.

For older children, put out breakfast things like cereal so they can help themselves and get a head-start. Putting cereals in a plastic jug will make them easier to pour. Have aprons handy for when you are serving messy foods or rip off a strip of cling film to protect school uniforms. Baby wipes are ideal for wiping down sticky faces and fingers.

Get your kids to do the same things in the same order. From getting dressed to brushing hair and teeth, they will soon learn what they need to do next and save you nagging. Make it fun by creating a musical playlist to go with each activity. Put up personalised hooks – colourcoded if they are too young to read – for their coats and bags. Hang your car keys by the door too so they don’t get lost in those vital last moments before lift-off.

Double-ended pieces of elastic with clips will keep kids' gloves attached to sleeves. This will ensure they are always easy to put on. Thread scarves through coat loops so they’re ready to wrap around your child’s neck. Teach youngsters how to pull down their cuffs when they are putting on their coats so their sleeves don’t get uncomfortably scrunched up.

How can I give my quarter a makeover? Giving your home a new look is not the easiest of challenges when you're on a tight budget, but Mel Prescott-Davies has a few ideas to help you freshen things up… UPCYCLE Check out local online selling groups or charity shops for cheap or free furniture that can be transformed with fabric or paint. Or look at what you've already got – if it's looking a bit tired then explore ways to breathe life back into it. REPURPOSE If your curtains don't fit, think about using

the fabric to make cushions or cover a chair. I recently transformed some old curtains into Swedish blinds; I had no idea how to make them so I searched the internet and found a tutorial. I have a sewing machine and basic skills, but it transpired they were easy to make, even for a complete novice.

56 Army&You winter 2016

FIND INSPIRATION YouTube and online blogs are great places to find inspiration – they will take you through each step and you can ask questions

in the comments section. Instagram is my new home interiors playground. It’s very distracting, but there are ideas by the bucket load. Annie Sloan’s step-

by-step tutorials are a must-see. TIE IT TOGETHER Once you’ve got your ideas, think of how to put them into practice. If it’s a whole room, a mood board is a good starting point. Gather fabric and paint samples (although be mindful of painting your SFA walls) and either makeover a pre-loved piece of

furniture or use what you’ve got. Or start small. I used an old frame and some wooden letters that spelt ‘love’. I painted the frame with tester paint, backed the frame’s board using a free wallpaper sample and painted the letters blue. Using a strong craft glue I stuck them on and it looked amazing. These make great gifts too. @ArmyandYou

Aiding adventure: The Annington Trust has donated over £100,000 to the Outward Bound Trust – see page 28

How do I apply for a grant from The Annington Trust? Set up 20 years ago when it purchased the married quarters estate, The Annington Trust is committed to assisting Service families. Elizabeth Filkin tells us how the military community can benefit from the group's help... WHAT DOES THE TRUST DO? It makes financial grants to a variety of projects for the benefit of families living in Service communities. These have included support for contact houses, crèches, preschools, youth clubs, community centres, libraries

and music groups. HOW MUCH CAN I ASK FOR? Grants are generally around £1,000 but they may be larger in special circumstances.

trustees to ensure the important input of current Army families, along with directors of Annington and representatives from the other families federations.

WHO MAKES THE DECISION? AFF’s chief executive sits on the board of

HOW DO I APPLY? Trustees will only consider applications supported by your

soldier’s unit. Your application should also be copied to AFF’s chief executive at the time of submission. Their support can make all the difference when decisions are being made. WHAT SHOULD I INCLUDE IN MY APPLICATION?

You’re expected to show full costings and evidence of self-help and fundraising. Above all, the trustees are anxious to help projects and activities that make life better for those living in Service communities. The quality and detail of your application will help them to help

you, so the more information you provide, the more likely you are to succeed. USEFUL INFO Remember to use the check list provided before submitting your application. You can find out more at

How do I promote my fundraising efforts? You’ve chosen the Service charity you wish to support – now you need to spread the word. Setting up an online fundraising page can be key to your success. Lottie Hammond has some expert insight to share… 1. Share on Facebook Think about what time of day your post will get the most eyes on it and share it then. Already shared your page? No worries – add a new photo, comment or video so that it catches your friends’ attention while they’re scrolling through their feed.

2. Tweet Twitter is an amazing way to spread the word about what you’re up to. Tag the charity you’re fundraising for and the chances are they’ll retweet you. You can also use hashtags to appear in relevant conversations, which could spread the word far beyond your own community of followers.

3. Use your email signature Add a button that links to your fundraising page in your email signature and you’ll be quietly reminding people about the amazing

thing you’re doing every time you send an email. It’s a subtle but effective way to increase support.

4. Tell the local press Make it easy for the local press to pick up your story – a few lines in the paper or an appeal on local radio can really help your cause. Send them a press release and include all the details about what you’re doing along with your fundraising page URL. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.

5. Make posters If you set up your page through JustGiving, you can create a posterstyle view of your fundraising page with all the information that you have online. It’s handy for sticking up in the office, your local shop or on the school notice board. Best of all, it comes with slips for your supporters to tear off, complete with the web address to your page. winter 2016 Army&You 57

Your guide to sharing or freezing sperm and eggs


RE you concerned about your future fertility due to deployment? Freezing eggs or sperm offers reassurance until you are ready to start a family Treatment using frozen sperm is very successful whilst egg freezing is also proving popular for women who want to preserve their eggs at a younger age. Many babies have been born using frozen eggs and sperm. CARE offers a 30 per cent discount to serving Armed Forces Personnel who want to freeze eggs or sperm.

SHARE SPERM AND SAVE If you need IVF and you can share sperm, your IVF at CARE is free! There aren’t enough UK sperm donors to meet the demand from couples with a

male-factor fertility problem egg donation programme and or to help lesbian couples hundreds of babies have been and single women have their born thanks to the generosity families. of our donors. With limited NHS funding If you are aged under 36 and for IVF, sperm sharing in good general health with might be a way to fund your no genetic problems in your treatment. Sperm sharers family, you might be able to must be fit and healthy, donate eggs and reduce aged between 18 the cost of your IVF If you need and 40 with high treatment at the IVF and you quality sperm. same time. All of our “Sharing is can share donors are remarkably sperm, your screened for successful IVF at CARE infectious – pregnancy diseases and rates for women is free! medically assessed. selected to egg share Counselling is also are exactly the same as offered. Our egg donation when someone uses all the teams are highly experienced eggs in their own treatment,” in matching sharers to said Philip Lowe, CARE recipients. Manchester.



CARE has a very successful

Patients who have had cancer

treatment or chemotherapy may not be able to use their own eggs. Some of our patients have had an early menopause or have genetic problems they don’t want to pass on to a baby. All of our donors are screened for infectious diseases, and medically assessed. Counselling is also offered. Egg and sperm sharer’s characteristics are matched to recipients by blood group, hair and eye colour, height and build. Donation is not anonymous – children born from donation may ask for information about their donor in the future. l For further information on all the treatments at CARE please visit n

We CARE about family Whether you’re looking for help starting your family or preserving your fertility, our worldleading fertility group has spent decades developing new tests and treatments to give you the best possible chance of success. Our treatments include: IUI • IVF • Sperm and Egg Freezing Pre-implantation Genetic Screening

Sperm sharing If you are able to share your sperm, you will receive your treatment at substantially reduced cost.

The reassurance of a world-class IVF group. The convenience of a local clinic. When you’re ready to take your next step, talk to CARE. Find your nearest clinic at 58 Army&You winter 2016



Save your little soldiers for the future... Midland Fertility is able to freeze sperm for men before deployment in case of serious injury, or even death.

Visit: Ventura Park Road, Tamworth B78 3HL Call: 01827 311170 Click: @mfsIVFnews Midland Fertility midlandfertility

To preserve your future family, call Midland Fertility

01827 311170

Focus on future fatherhood Su Barlow (pictured left), laboratory director of Tamworth-based Midland Fertility, tells us how soldiers can preserve their fertility before deployment... I’m due to be deployed and my partner and I haven’t got any children. What do you suggest? Sue: Collecting, freezing and storing sperm before deployment can give you peace of mind. Over the years, Midland Fertility has frozen sperm for many soldiers before going on operations – they think of it as a kind of “fertility insurance”. The sperm is available to use in the event of any serious abdominal injury, or can even be used posthumously by the soldier’s partner.

sample is taken to screen for Hepatitis B, Hepatitis C and HIV. The issues of consent and posthumous use are explained by one of the clinical team, and if you want to go ahead, you will give your consent in writing to your sperm being frozen and stored. One of the team will check your sperm sample, including the number, movement and shape, and if suitable sperm are present, will freeze your sample in liquid nitrogen. Counselling is also available. We recommend a soldier stores up to three samples, given at least two days apart.

Who can freeze their sperm? Men who work in civilian and military high-risk occupations; those with a history of early-declining fertility in the male side of their family; or men who are away from home for extended periods. They have to be aged 18+ and not screen positive for STDs.

What is involved in the process? During your initial appointment, a blood

What happens if there is no sperm in my sample? Sometimes the test can give results that you are not expecting and very occasionally no sperm are present. This can be a shock and we are here to talk you through your options. We may be able to extract sperm from the testes from some men using a procedure carried out under light sedation.

How and when can my stored sperm be used? In the future, the stored sperm could be used with either IUI, IVF or ICSI fertility treatments if you and your partner were unable to conceive naturally, or by your partner. The usual maximum period of storage is 10 years. However, if you, or the person you have consented to be able to use your sperm, become prematurely infertile, you are then permitted to extend this storage period to a maximum of 55 years.

If my partner used my sperm after I had died, would my name be on our baby’s birth certificate? Yes. There is a section within the forms you complete where you can consent to be named on the birth certificate of your baby. l For more information on sperm freezing visit n winter 2016 Army&You 59


Click the giveaways tab at and follow the links. One entry per household per giveaway. Closing date for entries is 8 January 2017. See page three for competition rules. Your information will not be used for marketing purposes. Winners’ names are published on the Army&You website.

Enjoy a little luxury IF you fancy a luxurious night away this winter, look no further than Classic Lodges – an independent and nationwide collection of 16 stunning hotels that vary from a

baronial mansion near Whitby to a 700-yearold coaching inn in the Cotswolds. Good food is at the heart of every Classic Lodge and your stay will be no exception. The winner of

Army&You’s fantastic star prize will enjoy prosecco, afternoon tea and dinner for two before a night’s sleep in a deluxe double or twin bedroom. You’ll also enjoy a full English or Continental

breakfast in the morning to fuel your day exploring the local area. Find out more at classiclodges. * Full T&Cs on

Go full throttle at thrilling track day CALLING all thrill-seekers: Experience Megastore offers a range of endorphin-releasing experiences throughout the UK. Thanks to Army&You, one lucky winner and their guest will win an enthralling supercar driving experience valued at £129. Choose from a Lamborghini, Ferrari, Porsche 911 Turbo, Audi R8 and more at your choice of location in Essex, Lincolnshire or Vale of Glamorgan. Army&You readers receive 10 per cent off all online bookings at until 31 January 2017. Quote code: LAPEL25 T&Cs: Winner must be at least 12 years old. Prize must be redeemed within six months of being informed. Discount is for store items only.

60 Army&You winter 2016












Published by DK,

For two or more players

If you’re looking for complete protection for your iPhone, then the stylish X-Doria Defense Lux range offering military standard drop protection might just be the answer. Tested to survive falls of up to two metres onto concrete, the slimline cases are available in various designs featuring a luxurious back panel of carbon fibre, soft leather or crocodile skin and an aluminium frame that provides the perfect iPhone colour match.

Army&You has teamed up with Rewards for Forces, the leading military discount and benefits scheme in the UK, to bring three lucky readers a fabulous cinematic experience. Each winner will receive two adult and two child tickets for the Empire or Cineworld cinema of their choice, allowing them to sit back, relax and enjoy the latest blockbuster release. Don’t forget, you can sign up to cinema rewards and save up to 40 per cent at up to 380 cinemas in the UK.

Survive the great outdoors with The Survival Handbook, the ultimate guide to camping and wilderness adventures. Written by ex-SAS combat survival instructor Colin Towell, the guide is bursting with expert tips and more, all presented in a real mess tin. Learn how to read a map, light a fire and build a raft. From survival basics to extreme situations, the book will steer you through adventures in the world’s harshest climates.

How well do you know your other half? Mr & Mrs family game is based on ITV’s popular All Star Mr & Mrs, hosted by Phillip Schofield, where players answer in-depth and entertaining questions about their partner, friends or family members. There’s also a new pocket edition suitable for families on the move. With more than 1,000 questions, you’re guaranteed laughter, blushes, blank looks and a whole lot more.

Does your soldier need to keep their medals safe? Crafted using soft cotton, these personalised pouches are made to order in your regimental or corps colours. Each set has a pouch for full size medals and a separate, matching version for the miniatures. Where available, genuine regimental buttons for fastening are used and each pouch is hand embroidered with your soldier’s Service number. Prices start from £25 for up to four medals.

l Army&You has three cases,

l Find out more at

l We have six survival

l Army&You has three family

l Army&You has three sets to

worth £29.99 each, to give away for iPhone 5, 6, 6S or 7.

handbooks, priced at £14.99 each, up for grabs.

editions, retailing at £19.99 each, to give away.

give away.

winter 2016 Army&You 61


To have your say on the issues affecting you, send your letters to the Editor at You don’t need to worry that it will affect your soldier’s career. Please include your name and address. They will not be published or revealed to anyone outside AFF without your permission.

Separated spouses need housing help I EMPATHISE with the writer of the autumn Army&You postbag letter who discussed the lack of support available for military spouses during divorce. I was married for 26 years and have three grown up children, two still living at home. My husband decided he didn’t want to be married and moved into the mess, whereas I now have to search for somewhere to live. I have followed him around the world, accepted the months and weeks he was away, often at short notice, without fuss. I was there for the knockbacks and promotions and supported him throughout his career. His decision means I have to move out within 93 days with no help, no guidance, nothing. I have spoken to SSAFA, the welfare office and Citizens Advice, all to no avail.

Spouses are not a priority on the local authority’s housing list, yet Service personnel are. The only way I would fit the criteria for help is if my children were younger or I wanted to harm myself. Otherwise, I’m kicked to the kerb and just have to get on with it. This is in direct conflict to the response given by the Armed Forces Covenant team in the autumn letter, which states: “Department for Communities and Local Government guidance makes it clear that it expects councils to consider the wider needs of the Armed Forces community and to be sympathetic to changing family circumstances...” My questions are: 1) How do they expect councils to consider a spouse’s needs? 2) What are the considerations they are asking councils to make?

3) How do they know whether there is a lack, or not, of consideration made to the spouse? 4) What do they do about a lack of consideration by the council to the spouse? The response goes on to say: “The MOD has a standing commitment to continue working with the families federations to gather further evidence on the inclusion of divorced spouses.” When did this evidence gathering start and when is it likely to end? Does this suggest that evidence gathering isn’t happening? My treatment has been appalling. I have absolutely no respect for all the support sections that I believe are tick boxes only, just to meet service level agreements. I have taken my case to my local MP and I won’t

stop until my plight is noticed. Name and address supplied AFF comment: We have referred this to the Covenant team who will respond to the family directly. The issues for separated and divorced Army spouses are high on our agenda and we will be highlighting these issues to the Local Government Association. Look out for updates at aff.

*** Star letter ***

The writer of this letter wins a gorgeous fountain pen from PLOOMS. Company founder Sally Page believes that some words need to be written in ink, and it was this thought that inspired her to create her range of fountain pens, currently available in eight colours. Find yours at, priced £59, or follow @ploomspens on Twitter and Instagram.

62 Army&You winter 2016



Pressured position: The demands of the military day job can make it difficult for transitioning soldiers to focus on resettling

Unsettling resettlement MY husband is currently going through his resettlement after serving more than 22 years. My frustration is watching him trying to ready himself for civilian life and a different career whilst being made to feel guilty for being away from his desk. His department is very undermanned so when he is away the work either gets pushed onto someone else who is already overstretched or simply does not get done. The guilt he feels about this means working late in the office before or after a course so he isn’t dropping others in it. Recently he attended a difficult course with exams at the end and high pass marks required. Whilst on the course he was not only messaged by his department but also phoned by his boss and asked questions regarding documents and information. This is just not fair when he is trying to concentrate on the course. It was always clear that he was on his last posting and resettlement should be seen as part of his current role not the annoying thing in the way of him

doing his day job. He has also taken himself off courses as he is just too busy to fit them in. We’re currently living married unaccompanied and I worry about him as I phone at 8pm some evenings and he is the only one in the office working because, he says, ‘I am on a course next week’. He has earnt the right to resettlement and his line managers should show him the support and respect to be able to complete it. After all, once he has finished he will soon be replaced and forgotten. Name and address supplied. Response from Brigadier R J Walton-Knight, ACOS support, Headquarters Field Army: This letter makes the very important point that resettlement is a fundamental part of a Service person’s career. There have been no indications across the

Army that people are having difficulty with being released, so this may be an isolated incident. However, the importance of resettlement is well understood and is absolutely respected by the chain of command. COs are fully aware that responsibility for giving access to resettlement provision lies with them at unit level. Individuals are responsible for developing and pursuing their own goals and prioritising their transition to civilian life. There is a generous resettlement package, based on length of service, set out in JSP 534. Personnel who are starting the resettlement process must ensure that their chain of command understands this, and that it is now their priority – and a duty. The chain of command must then respect this commitment and provide the support necessary.

He has earnt the right to resettlement and his line managers should show him the support and respect to be able to complete it

MY SFA was banded D on an initial survey and subsequently increased to band A when we received our CAAS notification, equivalent to a newbuild. Having been through the CAAS challenge process to stage two, my appeal has not been upheld. I have attempted to comply with the process, including reading the triService accommodation regulations and Decent Homes (DH) standards, and have now been referred to the Service complaints process. There has been no material improvement to the condition of the property and other almost identical properties on the same estate have been banded C and E. In terms of financial penalty, I will be paying £1,800 per year more than my neighbours. Will the quality of service in terms of maintenance and repairs increase at the same rate? Name and address supplied Response from Dave Simpson, DIO CAAS programme manager: The SFA charge is not a penalty, it is an appropriate charge reflecting your SFA and remains no more than 15 per cent of income when compared to private rental or purchase costs which account for approximately 45 per cent of income. In this case, the estate is split almost evenly between DH and DH+ on repair suggesting the DH require work; this variance accounts for a 2 band difference in charge. The initial CAAS band issued in July 2015 was an estimate based on available information at that time, and was refined through the survey programme. Achieving a DH standard is based on condition, not age. CAAS is not directly linked to quality of service for maintenance. MOD and CarillionAmey have a maintenance improvement plan but recognise that there is still work to do. £660m has been invested in SFA improvements and maintenance over the last five financial years. AFF Comment: AFF is monitoring the CAAS system carefully. If anyone has any concerns about it, please contact Cat Calder, AFF Housing Specialist by emailing winter 2016 Army&You 63

POSTBAG RENOVATIONS REFUSED THE Rent should reflect rating letter in autumn’s Army&You was almost word-for-word the same situation we are facing. We went through the appeal process with CAAS because of the poor energy efficiency in our SFA – lack of insulation, old boiler etc. Recommendations made by the CAAS surveyor for insulation were rejected by CarillionAmey (CA). Thanks to the letter, I now understand it’s due to the budget restraints CA places upon itself. The problem is that there’s no communication between CAAS and CA. They appear to be different entities with no common ground. We have been told that our rent will be going up irrespective of the poor energy efficiency and despite the insulation work not being carried out. Name and address supplied Response from Dave Simpson, DIO CAAS manager: CAAS includes an assessment of the energy efficiency as a component of Decent Homes which uses the Standard Assessment Process (SAP) methodology. SAP assesses whether a component is, or is not, present. It does not assess the condition of the component. The SAP assessor makes recommendations for improving energy efficiency. It is DIO’s responsibility to fund improvements. Recommendations for works are provided to DIO by CA and the teams work closely together. While this approach appears to work well on large-scale programmes, your letter may highlight an issue with generating low value single dwelling improvements. CA representatives should be seeking local DIO approval and funding for projects such as loft insulation, and a finite budget is available to draw down on. DIO will take this aspect forward with CA to improve communications. AFF comment: AFF is pleased to hear that DIO is addressing this issue. If your CAAS assessment resulted in recommendations for improvement works which have not been carried out, email

64 Army&You winter 2016

Keep our communities together I REALLY hope the powers that be listen to families in respect of the Future Accommodation Model (FAM). At a recent community event on the Paisley patch in Glasgow, FAM was a hot topic. It’s a prime example of where having people living in their own homes or private rentals would be detrimental to community spirit. It’s hard enough for families moving here with different schooling, healthcare and a

different language (as a Jock, I can say this). We have no mess and limited welfare support so having 50-or-so families together on the patch is ideal as we really depend on each other. If the new model comes in, they would be scattered around Glasgow and, without local knowledge, this could affect schooling and the commute for the serving partner. There are so many implications for serving personnel as well

Response from Al Pennycook, project director, Future Accommodation Model and head of accommodation policy: The MOD is thinking about how to modernise the way we provide accommodation to personnel and their families, but we haven’t made any decisions yet. We recognise that the patch is important for some of you. But, for others, particularly those with families who are not married, the current offer doesn’t provide anything. The way your housing is delivered is also becoming increasingly unaffordable,

as families. If someone decides to be nonmobile and buys their own place, how will that affect promotion prospects? Can a soldier based in Wiltshire be given the same promotion prospects as someone on ops? These choices could have a knock-on effect on retention; it’s about more than just housing. No one I’ve spoken to thinks it could work in its current proposed form. Name and address supplied

and isn’t flexible, for example to adapt when units are permanently moved to new locations. We want to see if there is a way to deliver more, to more personnel, while addressing increasing costs. There will be no easy choices but there is a range of options on the table, including keeping patches. We want to take into account the views of personnel and their families in deciding what to do. Over the past few months, we have been speaking with those affected. We have encouraged personnel to complete the

THE thought of losing our patches, our way of life and our vital support network is keeping me awake at night. It makes me weep with frustration and anger that ‘they’ can take it away. I filled in AFF’s survey and shared it far and wide. All I hear is that it is a ‘done deal’; that it is going to happen and that I should stop complaining and get on with it. Words cannot express how passionately I feel about the patch and what it offers. I am normally such a positive person, but this has got me very depressed. Is there anything else Army families can do or should be doing to make the MOD listen to us? I want to know I did everything I could to fight the loss of our patches. Name and address supplied

recent MOD FAM Survey with their families, and we have studied with interest the results of AFF’s survey. We’ve also held focus groups where partners and spouses were able to tell us how they feel about some of the options being considered. We are still in the consultation phase and no decisions have yet been made – your views are helping shape the policy. In the meantime, we do want to keep you updated, so please visit for more information. @ArmyandYou



Childcare change not the brightest idea WHEN my son was three months old, I enquired about a place at Bright Horizons nursery (in MOD Main Building). The manager invited me for a tour and sent me an application form. I was told that discounted rates were available to us because my husband is based at Hyde Park Barracks. I was shown the waiting lists and realised the wait for MOD employees, who have priority, was very long – around 50 – but not told about the tier system. Places are only given to Army families if there are no MOD employees needing spaces. There will always be a continuous number of children of MOD staff being put in front of us. It looks like we will never receive a place, so why is the nursery even offered to Army families? I am due to go back to work after maternity leave. However, living in Central London – because this is where my husband is based – we cannot afford the price of a day nursery. We visited numerous nurseries which were asking for an average of £70 a day – way out of our price range. We have no family near us to help out. I am now thinking about not returning to work, which means putting my career on hold. After showing me round the nursery and letting me fill out application forms, the nursery manager said that it was best for me to look for other childcare arrangements and it was unlikely that my little boy would get a place. I understand that childcare can be an issue for many people whether military or not, however, with the demands of a job in the Army, there should be some support for Service families with young children. Name and address supplied

I HAVE a dispute with the Bright Horizons nursery in MOD Main Building. I’m writing on behalf of hundreds of military spouses that now cannot afford to go back to work due to the prospect of having affordable childcare snatched away. This has all come about by a recent audit of the nursery and as an outcome the waiting list system has been changed to four lists in priority order for children of:

Response from Sue Johnson, deputy head of establishment for MOD Main Building: Following the Children Act of 2004 and Childcare Act of 2006, the Cabinet Office delegated authority to government departments to decide whether to provide childcare facilities and subsidised childcare to their staff. There are a range of provisions provided within MOD buildings but these are on an ad-hoc basis at the initiative of local commanders. The nursery in Main Building has a maximum capacity of 38 places, catering for children aged between six months and five years. The fees are subsidised for MOD staff (Service and civilians) by the Head Office & Corporate Services, which is responsible for determining the terms and conditions and selection criteria. It provides excellent value for money and places are highly sought after – currently there are 77 people on the waiting list. The selection criteria were reviewed in March 2015 to give priority to both Service and civilian parents who work in Main Building, which was the original purpose of the nursery. The criteria did retain the ability for all MOD employees working at other sites including HQ London District, Wellington Barracks, Regents Park Barracks, Hyde Park Barracks, The Baird Health

Centre and any other MOD establishment within one mile of Main Building, to register on the waiting list. However, with only 38 places, the likelihood of securing a place for it is very small. It is simply not possible to increase nursery places as space and resources are very tight. If commanding officers assess their soldiers have a need for additional childcare, it is their decision whether or not to facilitate it. The Army currently provides childcare facilities in Woolwich and Stanmore (in addition to Northwood and Northolt) and they are currently reviewing the provision in London Central Garrison but no decision has been made.

l Employees that work in MOD building l Employees in the barracks (us) l Contractors l Other government employees. There used to be just one list which my daughter was on for more than a year. Since the change, she has been moved to list two and there will be a continuing flow of people put in front of her. My husband is away the majority of the time, leaving me to look after our daughter as well as study. I am training to be a teacher and am petrified at the thought of paying full-time childcare when I start working as I will be putting myself in debt. As a military wife I have never received any support even when my husband is away. This has been my only hope and the same goes for many other military spouses I know. Now, we are somehow less important than people that work in a particular building. We are hoping to get our voice heard and get a fair system in place to support all of the spouses that endure a lot due to our soldier’s job. Name and address supplied

Response from AFF Education & Childcare Specialist Lucy Scott: AFF has been made aware of the difficulties in accessing childcare in Central London and elsewhere. We are sympathetic to these families and have been working with the MOD on childcare policy with the hope that access and availability issues are addressed. We recognise that childcare is a top priority for many families and we will continue to raise issues on your behalf. winter 2016 Army&You 65

Imagine the difference £2,500 would make to your Christmas. Call RIFT today. Call us on 01233 628648

Making a list, checking it twice Every year it seems like Christmas comes sooner and costs more. The seasonal expenses don’t start and end with the presents stacked under your tree, of course. You’ve got travel if you’re visiting family, festive food to consider and a hundred other little extras that can be hard to plan for. RIFT Tax Refunds is proud to stand behind the UK’s military families, helping them stuff those seasonal stockings a little fuller. Of course, it’s not just the money going out you have to think about at this time of year. Christmas in the military isn’t always the family holiday it’s supposed to be. Last year’s flooding saw the Army deployed to Cumbria to ease the hardship and protect the vulnerable. It was an amazing example of the self-sacrifice we see so often from the Armed Forces and their families - and it’s the reason we’re proud to do everything we can to help make your lives a bit easier. In 2014, the MOD confirmed that service personnel are allowed to claim tax refunds from HMRC for things like travel expenses to temporary postings. That statement put tens of thousands of service men and women in line for a major boost to their finances. An average 4-year tax refund is worth £2,500, but you do have to make some noise to get it. As we roll into the festive season, it’s a good time to be making sure your Christmas lists are up to date. It’s also worth remembering that while travel costs tend to account for the biggest part of most military refunds claims, that’s not all you’re entitled to. While you’re making your lists for Santa, jot down anything you’ve spent on things like food and accommodation while travelling on MOD business. If you’ve got receipts for Mess Dress, grab those as well. They’re all useful in getting your money back from the taxman. Here’s what you need to make sure you’ve got listed to send to us so we can get your refund back as quickly as possible: • All bases you’ve attended for temporary postings (under 24 months) and how you travelled to them. • Copies of assignment orders that we need for evidence when making your tax refund claim. It’s really important to have these to avoid delays and they are available from JPA. They’re deleted after 60 days though, so move fast. • Listing any time spent on courses, and where they were, as you can claim for that too. • Checking you’ve got all your monthly payslips: If you haven’t got all of your payslips, you can download them from the JPAC website. • Other supporting documents: MOT certificates, P60s and P45s are all helpful. Don’t worry if you can’t get hold of these, though. We can still claim without them. • If you’ve got any other income (maybe you rent out your house while you’re posted away), student loans or a private pension, you’ll need to itemise all that, too. This helps us work out how much tax you’ve overpaid.

• Receipts for Mess Dress. • The money you spent on food while at temporary postings or travelling for work. It’s easy to forget this but it adds up to a significant amount over a year. Military life this time of year has come a long way since the “football in the trenches” days, and the MOD does what it can to get into the spirit of the season with Christmas concerts, events and activities. For military families, though, time away from home can be a high price to pay during the traditional holiday season. There are, at least, a few ways to soften the financial blow of the Christmas period. If you own your home and you’re left with a spare room while your serving family member’s away, the government’s Rent a Room scheme could be a pretty big help. Under the scheme, renting a room can bring in an extra £7,500 of tax free income per year. It’s an optional system, and it does come with a disadvantage or two. For instance, you can’t claim for any expenses that crop up from the letting. Still, keeping the taxman’s fingers out of your pocket can go a long way toward offsetting your Christmas costs. Christmas outside the military is hectic enough. Juggling a military career into the bargain might seem like it leaves very little time for shuffling papers and claiming refunds. Luckily, there’s a way to share the load with a spouse or family member so you don’t miss out. If you’ve got family away on duty, they can set you up to speak to us on their behalf. While you’re at it, why not spread the Christmas cheer around as well? It’s a hard battle getting the word out about MOD tax refunds, and there are still far too many military families missing out. Give RIFT Tax Refunds a call and we’ll sort you out a Refer and Earn code. Every time we hear that code quoted by someone with a valid refund claim, we’ll send you a little present ourselves in the form of a cash reward. It’s a nice bonus for you, and you’re setting your friends up for a better Christmas as well. After all, a couple of thousand pounds of refunded tax money makes a much better present than another unwanted pair of socks! At RIFT Tax Refunds, we work with military families every day and we’re here to help you. Imagine what a difference an extra £2,500 would make to that Christmas wish list you’re writing. Call us on 01233 628648

Details of the legislation RIFT claim under can be found on under section 336-339 of ITEPA 2003. We operate under this legislation to ensure that no one is exposed or receives a refund they are not entitled to.

Buying a new home now as easy as 1... 2... 3...


By using Trinity you could buy a brand new Bovis Home without saving for a deposit – while saving yourself stress and hidden costs. With Trinity you can combine three fantastic standalone schemes:


Bovis Homes Armed Forces All Inclusive Discount* – £500 off for every £25K of your new home’s price, plus free curtains, flooring and kitchen appliances – and £500 towards legal fees!


Help to Buy Equity* – get a Government equity loan of 20% of your new home’s price and pay just a 5% deposit!


Forces Help to Buy* – borrow up to 50% of your annual salary, to a maximum of £25,000. This can be used towards the deposit and other costs!

It’s the winning combination to unlock the door to your dream home!

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Are you in the market for a new home and looking for the best purchase package out there for Armed Forces personnel?

Bovis Homes has developments throughout England, including a number that are close to major military bases, where we have a range of homes from 2 to 6 bedroom properties in attractive locations.

For further information about the schemes and where we are building, please go to – The Armed Forces purchase scheme is listed within the ‘Need help to Move’ section and you can find the nearest development to you through our ‘search for a new home’

*The Bovis Homes Armed Forces Discount Scheme has specific terms and conditions. Help to Buy Equity Loan and Forces Help to Buy have specific terms amd conditions and are subject to affordability criteria as prescribed by the Homes and Communities Agency and the Ministry of Defence. Cannot be used in conjunction with any other offers or promotions. Please ask your sales advisor for further information. Photograph shown depicts a typical Bovis Homes interior. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON A MORTGAGE OR ANY OTHER DEBT SECURED ON IT.