From losing a husband to helping thousands - how a war widow turned tragedy into positivity
- Credit: Matthew Usher
When Nikki Scott lost her husband Lee during his service in Afghanistan in 2009, her world fell apart.
Cpl Scott, 26, was killed by a roadside bomb blast in Helmand Province, one of more than 450 British forces personnel or MOD civilians to have lost their life in the conflict since 2001.
He was serving in the 2nd Royal Tank Regt, and was due to return home just three weeks after the explosion hit his armoured vehicle.
Ms Scott, the mother of two young children Kai, aged five and seven-month-old Brooke soon realised there was a lack of support for families left behind.
In 2010 she founded Scotty’s Little Soldiers in Cpl Scott’s memory to help the children of the fallen smile again.
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Since then, the charity has supported 400 of them from its base in King’s Lynn. Its supporters include Prince Harry and the Duchess of Sussex, who nominated it as one of their seven charities people should donate to instead of giving them wedding presents when they married in May 2018.
Children receive Christmas and birthday presents, while Scotty’s has seven holiday homes where families can stay and organises outings and parties.
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Older children are helped with grants towards the costs of going to university or driving lessons.
“It’s incredible how much Scotty’s Little Soldiers has developed in the past 10 years,” Ms Scott said.
“Everything we have ever done has been in response to what bereaved Forces children need. To begin with we focussed on putting smiles on their faces, but through the events we organised we got to know the children and realised they needed so much more support, which is why now we also offer wellbeing support, educational assistance and grants, as well as all the fun things such as breaks, events and gifts at extra difficult times of the year.
“I’m really proud that we’ve been able to help so many young people and we have lots of plans to continue this into the future.”
Ms Scott’s decade of work has now been recognised in a set of national awards.
She was given the Family Values category of the Soldiering On Awards, which recognise those who help the forces community.
“I am really honoured to receive this award,” she said.
“I know that when I speak on behalf of a few bereaved families, we can sometimes feel disconnected from the community when you lose someone in the military.
“What I love about Scotty’s Little Soldiers is that it helps to bring families back into the military community again.
“A big thank you to Soldiering On Awards because this is just another way of helping our families to feel back within the military community again.”
The result was announced during a virtual ceremony compèred by actress Fiona Dolman, attended by the category finalists, sponsors, judges, Earl Howe, patron of the Soldiering on Awards, Colonel Karl Harris, chair of the Army’s Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic Network and Lieut Gen James Swift OBE, chief of Defence People.
Lee Mooney, chief executive of award sponsor Military Mutual said: “The Family Values Award is very much aligned to the same core principles as the Military Mutual, honouring a family or group whose selfless commitment, dedication and support for others in the armed forces community ensures that they are cared for, supported or helped.”