Scotty would be proud of his legacy, which has helped hundreds of bereaved service familes
- Credit: Courtesy of Nikki Scott
A Norfolk soldier killed in Afghanistan 10 years ago would be proud of what a charity set up in his memory has achieved.
Cpl Lee Scott, from King's Lynn, died in July 2009 when his armoured vehicle was hit by a roadside bomb.
The 26-year-old, who was serving in the 2nd Royal Tank Regt, was due to return home on leave in three weeks' time. He left a wife and two young children.
In 2010, his widow Nikki Scott set up Scotty's Little Soldiers, a charity to support bereaved service children, after realising there was little support for those left behind. The Lynn-based charity now supports 385.
"I thought it would just be a little charity that would let bereaved service kids have a break," she said. "I don't think I realised how badly it was needed and what support a bereaved kid would need."
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Nine months after her husband died, she saw her five-year-old son Kai laughing in a swimming pool on a family holiday and realised it was the first time she had seen him laugh since he found out he had lost his dad.
She later described it as her wake up call, which made her wonder how many other families were going through the same. To begin with, she aimed at a holiday home in Great Yarmouth.
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From there Scotty's has grown to offer support families, holidays and days out and grants for driving lessons and university. There are birthday and Christmas gifts, parties and events where families can meet.
"The biggest thing is the community, the kids meeting other kids," said Ms Scott. "To have friends that really do get it, it's what's most important to all our families."
As Scotty's began to grow, those it supported were children and their families who had lost a parent in Afghanistan or Iraq.
Now it increasingly supports those who have lost a loved one in an accident, through illness or suicide.
The charity is launching a new programme to mentor 19 - 25-year-olds. It is also recruiting two support workers.
Ms Scott, now 37, started Scotty's in her home. It now employs seven and numerous volunteers at its base on the North Lynn Industrial Estate and operates six holiday homes.
As the 10th anniversary of his death, on July 10 approaches, she said Lee Scott would have been proud of its achievements.
"He loved the military but he was all about his kids," she said. "If a charity like Scotty's had been around when he was alive, he'd be fund raising for it."
Ms Scott last spoke to her husband on July 5, five days before he was killed in Helmand Province.
"His friend Josh had been killed on July 1," she said. "That's when I realised how bad it was out there and what they were going through."
Six weeks into his tour, Cpl Scott was due to remain in theatre until November but was three weeks from a period of home leave.
His widow recently found a notebook belonging to her husband. He had written in it: "We will make life better for the everyday Afghan people. We will make life better."
Scotty's has achieved his ambition, by helping hundreds of bereaved children to smile again.
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.
As the 10th anniversary of Cpl Scott's death approaches, Ms Scott said she would spend it with children Kai, now 15 and his 10-year-old sister Brooke.
"I don't want them to feel like they have to be sad on that day," she said. "I just make sure we have time together, we've always done that since the first anniversary." Brooke was just seven months old when her father died. Ms Scott said she struggles with not having known him.
"She acts so like him it's unbelievable," she said. "The faces she pulls when she concentrates. She's very cheeky, confident, almost cocky but in a nice kind of way."