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Happy October!

Posted 15/10/2020

I hope everyone is keeping well and enjoying the change of the seasons as we’ve moved into Autumn? It’s by far my favourite time of year. I love the cosiness, the boots-and-jumpers weather, the early nights, the run up to Christmas, the time spent with family… and though Halloween/Bonfire Night/Christmas might not be quite the same as previous years we are determined to make it as special as we can for the kids with our own celebrations at home!

Nickie and I have been busy this past month with re-evaluating the support we can provide to Service children in schools. While a few schools have welcomed us back, understandably most schools have taken the stance that they are not accepting visitors. We are working on making our Anxiety Workshops and Wellbeing Warriors sessions into online resources, which we will be able to send out to any schools who put in a request to us. We are also working on recording ourselves reading some of our favourite books about separation, anxiety and emotions, which we will upload to our YouTube channel.

The Wellbeing Warriors groups have been going brilliantly so far with the children wonderfully engaged as we talked through our emotions and discussed how we can find ways to manage those horrid negative emotions, which sometimes creep up on us! The Wellbeing Warriors sessions also looks at the unique nature of Service families, how to be a good friend, and how to be kind to yourself and others around you.

The first SFSG meeting of the academic year (via Skype!) went really well, with representatives from schools, NYCC and the military sharing any new information which may affect our Service families such as upcoming regiment moves, or information which may help support our Service families, such as the Andrew Selous report “Living in Their Shoes” full report linked here:

And summary report for those who may not have time to read 268 pages(!):

Thank you so much to Angela Campbell who did a fabulous job chairing the meeting.

The next SFSG will be held in November. Please do let us know if you would like to be involved!

The Festival of Friends project is back up and running with our first Skype meeting! The Area Service Pupil Coordinators (ASPCs) received some more CPD, which they will then feedback to the Armed Forces Champions (AFCs) in their area, who will then cascade into their schools. The CPD this session focussed on deployment and separation. The ASPCs are looking to arrange their next meeting with their AFCs to take place in November.

You may have heard of “Bomb Happy”, a very powerful and emotional production by Everwitch Theatre and the York Normandy Veterans. It features the real stories of Ken Smith, Ken Cooke, Dennis Haydock, Albert Barritt and George Meredith; all veterans who participated in D-Day – one of the most important military operations of the Second World War.

The theatre has been working on producing an audio play to share with the community, which will be released on Everwitch theatre’s YouTube channel on Friday 6th November at 12pm in three parts to commemorate 75 years since VE Day. The trailer for the audio play is linked here:

The play is suitable for ages 12 and above.

And finally – the Virtual Service to Remember for Service children. It has been an extremely busy few months pulling this all together and I am so grateful to all who have contributed! There have been so many times I have clicked “play” on a video I’ve been sent and instantly teared up. There are some absolutely gorgeous and emotional contributions and I’m sure you will all love it. It will never be the same as having us all together in the beautiful Ripon Cathedral and I apologise in advance for the amateur video editing(!), but it’s all about the content, and Nickie and I are hoping to reach as many schools and members of the community in North Yorkshire as we can.

As well as schools, the military and the local authority we are looking to send the link to the virtual service to the Royal British Legion, York Normandy Veterans, nursing homes across North Yorkshire and local media. If you have any ideas of any other groups or organisations who may be interested in receiving the link, please let me know!

We will send an email out with the finished version and the Order of Service but I hope you all enjoy the Virtual Remembrance Service next month and please remember to send Nickie and I lots of pictures of your schools or community watching and taking part in the service!


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