Piers Morgan to go on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? for Norfolk charity
- Credit: Stellify Media
A Norfolk charity which supports the children of fallen service personnel is playing Santa to hundreds this Christmas.
Nikki Scott founded Scotty's Little Soldiers in 2010, after her husband Cpl Lee Scott was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan.
She saw first hand what little support there was for those who had lost a parent. Ten years on, the King's Lynn-based charity is a lifeline to more than 400 children.
This Christmas, they will be hoping TV presenter Piers Morgan can secure them vital funding when he appears on ITV's prime time game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire? for a Boxing Day charity special.
But there is plenty to focus on first.
"It's just got so vast, said Ms Scott, 39. "We have just sent presents to 418 children, it's been busy, busy but it feels good because they're all gone now."
The youngest child in Scotty's little army is just turning one. Once a member reaches their teens, support continues with help with driving lessons or college fees.
"I just didn't realise how many gaps there were in the support that's available to kids," Ms Scott said. "The fact they're not being forgotten, that they're part of our community is so much bigger.
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"It's that knowing that they're not alone, that there's other people around. It brings them back into a community again."
Scotty's Christmas party had to be held online because of the coronavirus.
"It was amazing," said Ms Scott. "We had 160 members online, 98 families all on a Zoom call. We know how much the annual Christmas party means to the Scotty members, so we were determined to make sure it still happened this year. We’ve seen the terrible impact the pandemic has had on many of the children we support - they are already suffering the impact, trauma and challenge of navigating parental loss, so this crisis on top is so hard for them."
There were games and crafts, dancing, science experiments and a special appearance from Father Christmas. Members were sent party packs which included a t-shirt, a Scotty Santa hat, Christmas glasses, Scotty flags, plus everything they needed for the party’s activities.
Celebrity messages included Ant and Dec, Bear Grylls, Ben Fogle, Strictly Come Dancing stars JJ Chalmers and Amy Dowden, actor Warren Brown, magician Richard Jones, Britain’s Got Talent finalists Soldiers of Swing, Coronation Street’s Antony Cotton, Emmerdale’s Mark Charnock, Susanna Reid and Piers Morgan.
Mr Morgan is hoping to bring Scotty's a bumper Christmas windfall on Who Wants to be a Millionaire? on Boxing Day (9.30pm). The Good Morning co-host said Scotty's was close to his heart.
“I can’t think of a more deserving charity than Scotty’s," he said. "One of my brothers is a serving army colonel with four daughters, so I know only too well the enormous stresses and strains put on military families when their loved ones are serving their country in combat, and the huge relief when they return safe and well.
"But sadly, some heroes do not come home and Scotty’s does wonderful work in helping families left bereaved. I just hope I don’t let them down, and raise as much money as possible."
Ms Scott said: ""We are so honoured that Piers has chosen to play Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? for Scotty’s. It means so much to have his backing and is a real boost to us as a charity after a particularly tough year for the bereaved forces children we support.
"We've just got to tune in on Boxing Day and watch. We're trying not to get too excited but it has the potential to really help Scotty's. There are so many gaps we want to fill but we need the finance to be there. It could be massive."
Scotty's currently costs around £800,000 a year to run. But Ms Scott would like to add workshops and residential courses to the emotional and educational support the charity provides, along with respite breaks for families who need to get away.
For more on Scotty's work, go to www.scottyslittlesoldiers.co.uk.