How Scotty’s Little Soldiers helped Norfolk family smile again

PUBLISHED: 10:26 02 November 2017 | UPDATED: 10:26 02 November 2017

Caroline and family on Mothers Day. Picture: courtesy of Caroline Williamson

Caroline and family on Mothers Day. Picture: courtesy of Caroline Williamson

courtesy of Caroline Williamson

Scotty’s Little Soldiers supports more than 300 children of fallen service people. They include those who have died from illness or accident, as well as those killed in action. Now it wants to help more families like Caroline Williamson and her two young children.

Caroline and family. Picture:  courtesy of Caroline WilliamsonCaroline and family. Picture: courtesy of Caroline Williamson

Mother of two Caroline Williamson from Marham lost her husband Sergeant Robert Williamson in August 2014 to a brain tumour.

Robert, who was 40 when he passed away, spent 20 years in the RAF. Scotty’s Little Soldiers has helped his family smile again.

MORE - How Scotty’s Little Soldiers grew from one woman’s grief

Caroline said: “I met Robert in a pub when I was 21 and he was 22 through a mutual friend. I wasn’t looking to get his attention but he liked my sarcastic humour and insults. We just seemed to work, we got on really well and I really looked forward to seeing him. He’d only been in the RAF for six months when we met so we’d see each other at the weekend and speak on the phone often.

Caroline and the children at RHS Flower Show. Picture:  courtesy of Caroline WilliamsonCaroline and the children at RHS Flower Show. Picture: courtesy of Caroline Williamson

“In 2001, he went on tour to Ireland. When he returned he proposed to me. He didn’t get down on one knee and he managed to put the ring on the wrong finger. We married the following year, on 25 May.

“He was fab. He was quiet but had a witty sense of humour. He was kind, caring and helped everyone and he was a really big family man.”

In May 2013, the couple bought their first home and in the summer they enjoyed a two-week holiday. While they were away Rob said he had been suffering headaches.

“After the holiday, Rob returned back to work to finish the last week of his six month posting in High Wycombe,” said Caroline. “

Lucy and Eddie Williamson. Picture:  courtesy of Caroline WilliamsonLucy and Eddie Williamson. Picture: courtesy of Caroline Williamson

But he was unable to work as he was feeling so unwell. I spoke with him on the phone and he said that he was lying on the floor as it was the only place he could get comfortable and he kept vomiting when he stood up.

“When I arrived to pick Rob up, he was in a really bad way. I packed his stuff as he lay on the bed. He couldn’t walk, he was staggering everywhere.

“The doctor told me to take him straight down to the Queen Elziabeth Hospital in King’s Lynn and that’s when all hell broke loose. They took Rob straight in for a CT scan. When they came back they immediately started squeezing steroids into him and transferred him by ambulance to Addenbrooke’s. There they operated on him and when he came round, he was my Rob again.”

After the surgery, Rob was given radiotherapy for three weeks followed by chemotherapy and finished the cycle when he turned 40. Life for the family returned to normal until March 2014, when Rob’s balance started going again.

In June 2014, doctors confirmed the tumour had returned. By July, his brain was full of little nodules. He died on August 18.

Caroline had to break the news to their children Lucy, who was nine at the time and Eddie, who was seven.

“When it came to telling Lucy and Eddie, I spoke with the nurses who advised me I had to be honest but on their level,” she said. “I can’t imagine being that young and looking at your daddy, seeing him come home with a big scar down his head, having to drop him off and pick him up after treatment.”

Scotty’s Little Soldiers provided the family with much needed support.

Caroline said: “You get on with life, the children went back to school when it started in September to bring in some normality. We were just really sad, especially at bedtime when daddy wasn’t there to kiss them goodnight.

“My friend told me about Scotty’s but I thought it was for children who had lost a parent whilst on tour and I was just trying to do everything to ensure that my children weren’t traumatised. But she encouraged me and told me I had nothing to lose. And it really did help, especially as we could join straight away, so immediately Lucy and Eddie both received a goody bag and on Remembrance Sunday, we were sent vouchers for Pizza Hut.

“It was coming up to December and thoughts of Christmas. Even Eddie at his age said ‘we don’t do Christmas, I’m not writing a list.’ Then the invite came though from Scotty’s Little Soldiers for its Christmas party in Manchester. I didn’t know what to expect but thought they’ll be people there in the same boat as me and I just had to bite the bullet. We went to party and whilst there, Eddie hurried over to me and said: ‘Come and play, you can do cause there’s nothing for you to do’. As a single mum you’re so busy, so it gave us the opportunity to spend time together.

“Lucy and Edward came away with the biggest goody bags and told my parents what we’d done. They were happy. When we arrived home they wrote Christmas lists immediately. I know it sounds corny but putting a smile on their faces was 100pc what Nikki did.”

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 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

• 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

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