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Soldiering On: I really missed seeing Team Scotty

The latest column from Scotty's Little Soldiers founder Nikki Scott, Friday, August 7, 2020

Finally, we’re starting to enjoy a bit of normality. Well, I’m not sure we can really call wearing masks normal, and there’s still a long way to go, but at least we can get back to doing some of the things we have missed during lockdown.

I’m really excited that we’ve been able to re-open our Scotty lodges and send the families away on respite breaks.

Team Scotty enjoying pizza
Team Scotty enjoying pizza

Getting away from it all is just want is needed for bereaved kids.

In fact, my original idea for the charity came nine months after Lee died, when on a family holiday I saw our then five-year-old son, Kai, smile for the first time since losing his dad.

From that point I was determined that other kids, who had lost a parent who served, should have the chance to smile.

I put everything into raising funds and bought our first Scotty lodge in Great Yarmouth in 2011.

I remember the opening of the lodge being a very emotional moment for me. It was still fairly early in my journey and I couldn’t believe we had got to the point where we had enough funds to purchase the lodge and start opening it for families to use.

I remember the day so well. Lots of family, friends, volunteers and supporters came, as well as some of the local Scotty families. Kai and I cut the ribbon, which was a proud moment.

When we left, a Scotty family immediately started their holiday, so it was used straight away.

The lodge is still to this day used regularly and is kitted out with everything a family needs when taking some respite.

We now have five other lodges in the UK too, which is incredible.

We get such wonderful feedback from families telling us the difference it makes to them to be able to get away for the pressures of daily life.

It’s actually ten years this month since we officially launched Scotty’s Little Soldiers.

We had planned lots of things to celebrate, but obviously those things haven’t happened.

It’s still a time to reflect though and look at how far the charity has come.

To begin with I was working from my house and then once we had a few volunteers on board, we got a small office on Railway Road, before relocating to our current site on the North Lynn Industrial Estate.

At that point we had no paid staff, just a team of committed volunteers. Today we have 13 team members, all working hard to support over 400 bereaved Service children and young people.

Even though we support families nationwide, it’s really important to me that we stay true to our roots, and every member of our team lives locally.

One of the things I have found hardest during lockdown is being apart from the team.

We’ve communicated really well using technology, but you can’t beat being together face-to-face, having banter and sharing ideas.

We actually got together as a team a couple of weeks ago for the first time since lockdown.

We have a warehouse at the back of our office, where there is plenty of space, so it was the best place to social distance.

We enjoyed pizza and lots of laughs. It was so good to be back together!

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