How King’s Lynn-based Scotty’s Little Soldiers is still a lifeline to Amy and Jess
- Credit: courtesy of Amy Lawrence
Jessica Lawrence was just a few months old when her dad was killed in Afghanistan.
With the help of Scotty's Little Soldiers, Jessica and children just like her all over the country are able to smile again.
Scotty's already helps more than 300 children, but it predicts there are 1,000 more in the UK who need support.
Now the charity is looking to expand by recruiting businesses and fund raisers to help them do even more.
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Trooper Phillip Lawrence was serving with the Swanton Morley-based Light Dragoons when he was taken from his wife Amy and little Jessica.
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'Phil and I met in September 2006,' said Amy. 'We met just out drinking but a couple of months later he went to Afghanistan on his first tour so we just stayed friends.
'He came back at the beginning of 2007 and we got more serious and decided to get married in February 2008, in Norwich. He was 19 and I was 21.
'We had Jess in the November and then he was deployed again to Afghanistan in April 2009. He came home on his R&R in June and then went back out for a few more months, but he was killed before I got to see him again.
'It was July 27 and he was killed by an IED after his convoy got stuck out overnight.
'I went into shock when I was told. Jess was eight months old. I didn't know what to say or do or how to react but for some reason I knew I needed to get home and take the medals off Phil's uniform before they took it away. He'd told me that.
'If I look back now I can't really remember anything to be honest. You go from being married and having a family and making decisions together and then suddenly that person's gone and you don't know which way to turn, where you're going to live. It's changed us an awful lot.'
Jess, now nine, never really knew her dad. thanks to Scotty's she has been able to learn more about him and remember him as a hero.
'Jess gets frustrated because she can't remember her daddy and she's only got a few pictures of him with her,' said Amy.
'She only knows what people tell her of him. It's little things like going to parents evening without both parents there, and when other children have their daddies visit who are firemen and policemen and she wants her daddy to go in as a soldier.
'Phil and I had only been together three years before he was killed and it took me four or five years to get my head straight and make sure Jess was still happy. Phil's friends have been great, she idolizes them. I had a tattoo for the first anniversary: angel wings and a wedding band on my forearm. As Jess gets older we tend to do something together like go to Cheshire zoo, because Phil was from Birkenhead and he liked going there when he was growing up.
'We've started making happy memories through Scotty's Little Soldiers. Jess has been a member since 2011 and her face lights up when she sees the Scotty's sticker on a letter or parcel.
'For her it's also knowing that there are other children who know exactly how she's feeling, she's made some great friends over the years which has helped build her confidence. They all know what she's going through and they can all support one another. It's the little things that make such a big difference to us.
'Jess has had some fantastic experiences thanks to Scotty's. We were both invited to Norwich City Football Club and Jess walked on to the pitch before kick off with the match ball. This was a big moment for her, walking out in front of thousands of people but she thoroughly enjoyed it. She also got to meet other Scotty's members. It was just really nice, all the children of all different ages.
'We love Scotty's and it's not just Jess, it's helped me a lot as well because I've met a lot of friends who are also widows and they really understand.'
How You Can Help
From one young woman's determination to see her two young children smile again, Scotty's Little Soldiers has grown to support more than 150 families who have lost a parent in the armed services.
As well as the children of personnel killed in action, it also provides a lifeline to those who have lost a parent from accident or illness.
There are a number of ways you can help them do it:
• Join the Business Heroes Club – request a free Scotty's Business Heroes pack by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or download here.
• Get Involved – volunteer or fundraise for Scotty's Little Soldiers, find out more here.
• Take part in Bobble Hat Day! – Wear your favourite bobble hat on 8th December and donate by texting BHAT17 £2 to 70070. Find out more here.
To make a donations to Scotty's Little Soldiers
• Text SLSC17 £2 £4 or £5 to 70070
• Click here www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk/donate
• Or call 08000 928571.
Scotty's shopping list
Here's how your money can help the children of our fallen heroes:
£20 A family meal voucher for Pizza Hut
£25 An individually-selected birthday present
£60 Three anniversary vouchers, sent to members at the time of their parent's death to remind them Scotty's is thinking of them
£100 Ten driving lessons for a 17-year-old member
£150 One Scotty member's annual allowance which can cover the cost of music lessons, sports clubs or school trips
£500 A family go on a break to a Scotty Lodge, including their travel expenses
£1,500 A higher-education grant for those about to head off to university
£5,000 A year's worth of family remembrance meal vouchers for 250 children
£10,000 Amazing Christmas presents for 66 members, or 20 family holidays
£50,000 An amazing and magical Christmas party available for all Scotty members to attend
£105,000 A brand new Scotty holiday lodge to be used by children of our fallen heroes