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November - more interesting times!

Posted 2/11/2020

Hello!  In April I said ‘May you live in interesting times’ – I didn’t honestly think we’d still be in them 7 months later!  I feel a little bit guilty…!

SCiP launched their Thriving Lives Toolkit last month, the evidence-based toolkit explains the seven principles of effective support for Service children in schools and provides self-reflection questions linked to further guidance, case studies and resources. They are hosting a free, two-part conference in partnership with NYCC’s School Improvement Service, delegates will explore the principles, reflect on their practice and plan action back in school.

Session 1: Wednesday 18th November, 9am – 12pm - Understanding Service children’s lives and how the Alliance helps; How schools can use the Thriving Lives Toolkit to help Service children thrive; the Toolkit’s associated professional development materials.    

Session 2:  Tuesday 24th November, 9am 12pm - Who can help schools help Service children thrive, and how – an overview of supporting organisations and four partnership workshops to choose from.

To book free places:

This month our Festival of Friends area groups have network meetings booked in to discuss how they will continue to work on their projects.  The Festival of Friends CPD included a preview of the Thriving Lives Toolkit, the feedback was that the toolkit is both useful and informative.

Jess and I are concerned that children and young people may be more impacted by this second lockdown because of the anxiety their parents / carers and wider families may be feeling and the general uncertainty in the world right now.   So we have been recording our anxiety workshops so they can be used in classrooms – it’s not as easy as it sounds!  The KS2 workshop – Anxiety with Caveman Bob - is ready to go, the KS1 workshop – Max Can’t Sleep - will be ready by the end of this week and after that we’re planning to work on the KS3 workshop. If you’re interested in the workshops please let us know and we can send you teacher information packs and the link to the workshop. or

Jess presented our new Wellbeing Warriors 5 week course at two schools last term and the feedback has been lovely.  We’re both booked and looking forward to presenting Wellbeing Warriors at schools this term but there’s always space for more if you’re interested!

November is the month of Remembrance, Jess and I are so sad that we aren’t meeting with you all in the Cathedral this week but we are very excited about, and proud of, the Virtual Service to Remember which Jess has put together with contributions from schools, the Army, the RAF, local ViPs and two very lovely WWII Veterans.    We are asking that the Service is viewed on Friday 6th November – when we should have been in the Cathedral – and are hoping we can reach a record audience this year!  We’d be very grateful for photos of people taking part in the Service and to hear any feedback about it.  If you would like us to email you the Order of Service and the link to watch the Service please let us know.  In addition to inviting all schools in North Yorkshire, we have also invited local care home residents to ‘join us’ for the Service.  If there is anyone else you think we should invite please let us know.

Finally, the next SFSG meeting will be on 17th November 2020.  If you would like to attend and haven’t had an invite please let me know!

I feel like a lot of this blog has been ‘let me know’ or ‘get in touch’ – perhaps I should just have said ‘don’t forget we’re here’! 

Hope you have a lovely November!



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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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Happy September!

Posted 10/9/2020

Happy September!  I hope you’re all well and managed to have some fun over the summer?  My husband and I took the children to Devon for a few gorgeous days with some friends – the sun shone, the children swam in the sea and we all ate & drank far too much, it was blissful and a nice reminder that the world is still there we just have to behave a little differently in it!

In the last week of the school summer holidays Jess and I received the news that the National Lottery has agreed to fund our posts from October for 6 months.  Which was really good news because we’d already started working on our plans for this academic year!

The last few months have been difficult for us all, our routines have been disrupted, we have had to change the way we live our lives and interact with our extended families.  Our children and young people have had to work through it without the freedom to see their friends or   partake in their sporting and extra-curricular activities.  Their education has been disrupted and the world keeps on shifting around them.  After a few weeks of relative easing it would seem that lockdown measures are going to be tightened again, I personally find it really difficult to hear people laying the blame for the reintroduction of tighter measures at the door of young people who have had so much to contend with this year and, I believe, will feel the impact of the pandemic for years to come.  In light of that I want to take this opportunity to remind you that the Anxiety Workshops are still available, they have been updated to reflect new research and the current pandemic which is raising all our anxiety levels!  The Anxiety Workshops aim to help children and young people understand what anxiety is, why our bodies are affected by it and how we can overcome it.  They also give children and young people the chance to voice their anxieties without having to worry they’re going to upset or offend anyone.  Please let us know if you would like us to present Anxiety Workshops at your school. 

Jess and I finished the summer term by writing a new programme for primary school children – ‘Wellbeing Warriors’ is a 5week programme for small groups of Service children which aims to help them recognise and understand their emotions, discuss their Service families, talk about friendship and transition, look at self-esteem, kindness and developing a positive mindset.  Wellbeing Warriors was great fun to write and we’re really looking forward to being able to present this in schools.  If you would like further information or to book a Wellbeing Warriors course for your school please get in touch.

We have also been working on our annual Service to Remember, unfortunately it won’t be at Ripon Cathedral this year but we’re quite excited about having the Service online and available to more schools.  Jess has been working closely with the clergy at Ripon Cathedral, who have agreed to record the service and we are hoping for a lot of contributions from schools and VIP’s – Jess will be sending multiple emails over the next few days asking for your support.  All contributions will need to be with us by the end of this month please! 

The theme for the Service to Remember artwork this year is ‘Heroes’, this week Jess and I were emailed the pdf for a gorgeous book called ‘North Yorkshire’s Unsung Heroes – Their Stories’ which was collated by Dr Tracy Craggs on behalf of the Ex-Forces Support Network project.  The book has some inspiring stories about local heroes including Mr John Jeffries, who many of you will have met at the Service to Remember at Ripon Cathedral and who sadly died on 30th August 2020.  The stories might inspire your children to think about who their heroes are before they create their artwork.  The pdf of the book is available here:

This month we should have been celebrating the completion of the Festival of Friends project but unfortunately, due to the lockdown measures, the project was put on hold.  Fortunately the Armed Forces Covenant Trust agreed to extend the project until March 2021 so we will be full steam ahead this term!  Hopefully schools will be working on their projects, the first Festival of Friends Area Coordinators meeting is set to take place later this month with the area meetings taking place soon after that.  I’m looking forward to hearing how the projects are progressing even in the face of the Coronavirus!

The first SFSG of this academic year is on Tuesday the 29th of September, we will be meeting by Skype which will be an interesting experience!  If you would like to be added to the SFSG distribution list please let me know.

I hope your return to work and school hasn’t been too stressful!  Look forward to seeing you all soon!



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Posted 10/7/2020

Hello all – happy July from the final blog of this academic year. And a very strange year it has been! Here’s hoping that our next blog in the new term will see us back in schools – we have really missed the lovely Service children that we work with! A Skype or phone call will never be the same!

This blog marks the end of my first year as Service Pupils’ Champion. And actually it will be both mine and Nickie’s LAST year as Service Pupils’ Champions as we have made the decision, more in line with the national terminology, to change our job title to “Service Children’s Champion”. Still a bit of a mouthful I’m afraid!! But it definitely encompasses more of what we do – we are here to support families with Service children of all ages, not just those who attend school. The SCiP Alliance and SCISS define a Service Child as: A person whose parent, or carer, serves in the regular armed forces, or as a reservist, or has done at any point during the first 25 years of that person's life. (though I think some older than 25 would say you never stop being a Service child!)

Now that the lockdown is easing, it’s great to see the light at the end of the tunnel and life getting back to normal – and of course this is the time my husband decides to return home having dodged the worst! We military spouses have a bit of a joke that something always happens when the other half goes away – well the Coronavirus has to be one of the biggest “what could possibly go wrong while he’s away?!?” so far! Despite my last blog way back at the start of May stating excitedly that my husband would be back in a few weeks – he ended up being massively delayed. This was mainly due to 2 weeks’ allowance for isolation time for his replacement, but also his replacement breaking his foot and being medevac’d back to the UK, an “exposure to Coronavirus” scare, and a huge sandstorm that meant on the day we finally thought he would be home, the aircraft was cancelled. All a day in the life of a military family, hey?! The pandemic certainly has not made it any easier. But – home now!

 So, back to some normality, yet still for many people there are worries about returning to work and school, and just being out in general, especially for those who are more vulnerable. We anticipate in September there will be a big resettlement period for many schools as more pupils return, and there may be some anxieties and concerns arising about returning. Nickie and I will be running Anxiety Workshops and our new and exciting Well-being Warriors groups in the Autumn term so please let us know if this is something your school would like to sign up for.

Nickie and I have been very busy being celebrities on BBC Radio York and BBC Radio Tees last week! It was very last minute – we were told the day before that it would be happening! Although we were extremely nervous, it was great for Nickie to be able to spread the word about her wonderful Armed Forces Day for children despite the fact it was sadly unable to go ahead this year, and for the both of us to be able to spread awareness about North Yorkshire’s Service children and the challenges they face, and why it is so important to both support and celebrate them. Nickie even managed to plug the website which was fantastic and hopefully we can beat that record of 10 hits in one day! J

Planning has begun for this year’s Ripon Cathedral Service to Remember for Service Children, which will look slightly different to previous years! Nickie and I decided in the current climate it was best to err on the side of caution and NOT attempt to plan a gathering of over 800 Service children squished two per seat into the Cathedral! However, we came up with the idea with Ripon Cathedral’s support to instead film and edit all the components of the service into one virtual, interactive service which can be sent out to all the schools in North Yorkshire, and we hope to get as many schools as possible watching and joining in with the virtual service in their own separate school assemblies on Friday 6th November 2020.

The theme of this year’s service is HEROES. We want to celebrate our Heroes, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic, whether that be teachers, our military, NHS staff, veterans, postal workers, or any other amazing people who have been key to keeping our country safe and ticking over while we have all been in lockdown. We have already had such a wonderful response with lots of schools already securing specific parts in the service such as reading prayers and singing hymns. We also have confirmed contributions from some VIPs such as the Station Commander at RAF Leeming Gp Cpt Crawford, the Lord Lieutenant of North Yorkshire Ms Ropner, and the brilliant Mr Ken Cooke and Mr Douglas Petty from the York Normandy Veterans.

We will be sending out an email early September with requests for videos of the Service children talking about their hero, or showcasing their hero artwork. Please do let us know if your school would like to contribute to or even just take part in watching the virtual service in November.

I had a gorgeous chat with Katie Salari from the Never Such Innocence project which exists to give Service children a means to express their thoughts on life in the Armed Forces through creative resources such as poetry and art. They are currently running a “Voices of Armed Forces Children” project where they are asking for any artistic contributions from Service children. More information can be found here: The Never Such Innocence project’s also offers writing workshops to schools, which they hope will enable young people to reflect on war and conflict in a creative manner. If you would like to request a workshop you can email them on

Finally, I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who has made my first year in the SPC role so enjoyable. It was definitely straight in at the deep end last September with the Ripon Cathedral Service looming, and thank God for Nickie who has been amazing – so patient as I’ve been learning the ropes, and always gently nudging me in the right direction! Also a big thank you to our wonderful line manager Trish for always looking out for us and fighting our corner this entire year!

I can honestly say that from the schools, to Army and RAF welfare staff, to the Children and Family Support Workers who I share an office with, every person I have been in contact with within the loop of people who help in supporting Service children and families in North Yorkshire has been so welcoming and eager to be involved with the work that Nickie and I do. I think there is a real commonality in this county for supporting our Service children and families, and I really hope this can continue.


Have a lovely summer everybody and we look forward to seeing you in September!


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Flaming June

Posted 3/6/2020

Hello!  I hope you have been able to enjoy some of the glorious weather we’ve had recently.  Jess informed me yesterday that chasing toddlers round the garden has given her a great tan, I, sadly, am just a little less ‘peely-wally’ as my Mother-in-Law would say!

I also hope you had a chance to read the Dandelion Blog last month!  The ‘Coronavirus Chat’ from our Service children was so funny, it struck me how aware our children are of the world – I am fairly sure I wasn’t like that when I was a young Service child!  I have posted some more ‘Coronavirus Chat’ on the Dandelion Blog today, I particularly like the advice that a Paw Patrol Onesie would suffice as protective clothing.  Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find one in my size!  We are keen to share the voices of more Service children so if you know of any who would like to talk to us please let me know!

Last month we published some VE Day 75 materials on our website and we hope you were able to use some of them!  We’d love to replace the materials with photos of completed VE Day 75 work so if you have any you would like to share please email them to us!

This week more children were able to go back to school.  My own Year 10 & 12 children are waiting for their schools to let them know when and how that will be happening – and they are, unsurprisingly, a little anxious about it, it is a worrying time for us all.  Jess and I are trying to ensure that we offer useful support to schools, Service children and their families in the coming months.  We are considering offering our anxiety workshops as a package that can be emailed directly to families; creating some resources around a Covid-19 story; continuing to phone children and parents for 1:1 support and making our Covid-19 Support & Loss & Separation support sheets available to families.  We would like to hear your thoughts on these ideas or any other ways you think we can support your school, Service children and their families.

We had some good news during half term, the Festival of Friends project funding from the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust has been extended until the end of March 2021 which means we can continue to support the schools involved with the wonderful projects they have planned. 

While we’re on the good news wave, Jess and I were very proud that the Dandelion Blog was included in the SCiP Alliance’s report ‘Listening to learn: The Voices of Service Children’ as one of 8 examples of strong practice.  If you haven’t seen the report yet it is available at:

One of the many things lost to the Coronavirus pandemic is our Armed Forces Day for Children event which should have taken place this month however, Jess and I are really hopeful that the Remembrance Service at Ripon Cathedral will be able to go ahead in some form and have started planning for it – we will email you further information soon!

Stay safe & hopefully we will see you soon!


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Happy May!

Posted 6/5/2020

Hello everyone and Happy May! I hope – as ever – you are all keeping safe and well.

I know I’m not the only one finding it all a bit never-ending at the moment. Especially with kids at home, it’s certainly not “time off”! I keep hearing things mentioned about “slowing down” and time for “reflection” …ha! I wish! The important thing to remember is we are all in it together, we are all keeping safe and doing our best to keep those most vulnerable safe too.

We are now on the countdown to my husband returning from his deployment – 3 weeks to go! – and then hopefully we can resume some level of normality (sanity) in our house. I am so aware I am not the only military spouse in this situation and this lockdown for many of our Service families is just another level on top of the usual challenges military life throws at us. Some families may, like mine, have a parent who is currently away from home, whether that’s through working as a key worker or on a deployment. Some families are now living in a bit of an uncertain period with their postings now on hold. It’s not easy(!) and Nickie and I certainly understand. We are still here if we are needed for any support.

Through helping Service children and their families to deal with loss and separation, Nickie and I have amassed many different activities and some useful links that may help children and families to cope during this time. It is vital that our mental health and emotional wellbeing is being acknowledged and cared for. I think this strange and unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in has really shown how important human contact is for our health and happiness! Please find some ideas for dealing with loss and separation here: (link to PDF)

Unfortunately, despite many meetings at County Hall with the VE 75 committee and working closely with a few of our lovely key schools plus the RBL nursing home Lister House in Ripon, I am very sad that our plans for VE Day celebrations are no longer able to go ahead. However, we have our VE Day 75 tab up and running on the website where you will find lots of different activities surrounding VE Day 75 plus some great PowerPoint presentations aimed at younger and older children which explain very clearly why we are commemorating this event. There is also an amazing VE Day 75 activity pack on there from Ceri Cusack at The Dales School (thanks Ceri for letting us share!), and links to the RBL’s VE Day resources. The RBL promises some great events we definitely encourage you to get involved with, such as Dame Vera Lynn’s performance of “We’ll Meet Again” which will be on BBC One at 9pm on 8th May and is sure to be a very emotional tribute – I think it will really strike a chord with our current situation as well.

Taking some inspiration from the absolutely wonderful Colonel Tom Moore (Happy 100th Birthday!) we would like to ask everyone to encourage the younger generation to research a veteran of the Second World War in honour of the upcoming 75Th anniversary of the end of the War in Europe. (link to Veteran profile activity) FaceTime/Skype/Zoom your grandparents/great-grandparents – even if they were only children at the time of VE Day in 1945 – and find out what they remember of the street parties and celebrations! Did their dad go to war? Their brother? What did they do in the Second World War and where were they posted? A lot of our work surrounding VE Day 75 was aimed at bridging the intergenerational gap between those who remember the war and our youngest people. My daughter is five, and her generation will be the last to be lucky enough to know and remember the veterans of the Second World War. It is so important that we make sure those generations connect.

I hope everyone is enjoying the lovely weather – long may it continue!


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May You Live in Interesting Times...

Posted 2/4/2020

They say ‘May you live in interesting times’ and we certainly are!  This April blog comes from the safety of my dining table.  Actually, to be totally honest, most of the blogs I write come from my dining table so no difference there!

Jess and I are still here, working away and trying to support our Service children the best we can.  Where possible we have contacted the children we normally support in school and spoken to them and their parents.  This will continue for as long as the schools are closed – and as long as they want to chat to us! 

We are aware that some assignments (postings) have been frozen until the summer.  This may mean that you have families who thought they were leaving North Yorkshire in the next couple of weeks but are now here for the foreseeable future which may be quite unsettling - to say the least!  Don’t forget we’re here if you feel there are families who could do with extra support in these unsettling times.

I hope you noticed we have refreshed the SPC website!  We are very proud of the first Dandelion Blog which was published last month and we’re planning to publish the next edition after Easter – if you know of any Service children who would like to be featured then please let us know!  It would be really interesting to find out what children think of the current situation – if you have key workers children at school who would be willing to answer some questions for us please let me know –

It looks as though we will not be able to celebrate VE Day 75 in the way we hoped however, Jess has produced a gorgeous VE Day 75 resource pack which she had intended to email to schools – if you would still like a copy please let Jess know:  Thinking about VE Day 75 reminded me of VE Day 70 which I celebrated on Le Cateau Primary School field!  It was the first event I organised as Service Pupils’ Champion and the pre-cursor to our Armed Forces Day for Children event.  I can vividly remember standing on the school field with Le Cateau’s fantastic Caretaker Mr Mel Shepherd and hearing tracked vehicles rumble down the road – until that point we hadn’t been entirely sure that there would be anything for the children to look at!  On that day Le Cateau’s Class 5H surprised everyone by dancing to the REME Band playing ‘Uptown Funk’.  5H had been working on the surprise for weeks and they were amazing – the footage is still available to prove it, have a look at “5H Wow the Crowd at the HMS Heroes Catterick Garrison VE Day Celebrations” on YouTube.  It’s so odd to think that those children are in Year 10 now!

Jess has also been in touch with RBL Lister House, the residents there are in lockdown and therefore are unable to leave the nursing home or have family & friends visit them.  The would love to hear from Service Children to raise their spirits and have asked that letters be sent, with a stamped self-addressed envelope to ‘Residents of Lister House, c/o Rachel Gilby, Lister House, Southgate, Ripon, HG4 1PG’.  If you would like any further information please email Jess –

I hope you are all well, we’re looking forward to seeing you all again!


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Posted 18/3/2020

Hello everybody and Happy March! It’s so lovely to see a bit more sunshine breaking through and the beautiful spring flowers popping up everywhere! I hope everyone is enjoying their first taste of the warmer weather.

The first thing to note is – the arrival of the wonderful Dandelion Blog! The children who have contributed to the blog have some gorgeous things to say on what they felt about the Cathedral Service for Remembrance. The Dandelion Blog is something we are hoping to feature on our website termly and is a great outlet for the voice of the service child. Thank you very much to those who have contributed to the first instalment.

It has been another busy month for Nickie and I – as ever – with our continuing 1:1 support in schools and for families, and of course events planning for VE Day and Armed Forces Day! We are very much looking forward to celebrating these with you all, and are so grateful to all people and schools who support our work on both.

As part of our VE Day celebrations, we have been organising some interviews to take place between service pupils and residents of local nursing homes who are keen to share their memories of the VE Day celebrations in 1945. We are hoping to encourage as many schools as possible to take part in their own street parties to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, and will be sending out a resource pack to all our schools very soon!

The Festival of Friends project is moving along wonderfully, with the schools involved so committed to improving the pastoral support of their service pupils. It is so great that we have so many schools in North Yorkshire who understand that military life brings so many challenges, and that if the emotional health and well-being of these pupils is not looked after, it can impact on their academic success.

We have just had a meeting for the Festival of Friends mid-project evaluation, where we looked at the case studies the schools have completed so far. There are some absolutely fantastic projects underway, such as a drama production showcasing what military life is like for service kids, a memorial garden for friends who have moved on, and an information booklet for new service children arriving to the school.

The Festival of Friends awards ceremony will be taking place on Thursday 17th September 2020 at the University of York and promises to be a wonderful conclusion to the entire project, with campus tours to promote access to higher education for service children and a fantastic opportunity to see the outcomes of the hard work the schools have put into their individual projects.

Finally – a note on the coronavirus. A link to the current guidelines:

Please see below a great visual lesson - demonstrated beautifully by my daughter Isadora - on the importance of hand washing, which can be easily shared with children.

Hoping that you all stay safe and well.






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Happy February!

Posted 18/3/2020

Happy February – I hope Storm Ciara wasn’t too awful for you – just got Storm Dennis to weather now!  Fingers crossed all the storms have blown out before our Armed Forces Day in June – I could do without another Storm Hector!

January was a very busy month for your Service Pupils’ Champions, I have a feeling the rest of this academic year is going to be the same!

We had our second Festival of Friends Area Co-ordinators training session at the start of January.  Training, which was delivered by Matt Blyton, centred around the SCiP Alliance’s ‘Thriving Lives Toolkit’ which the Festival of Friends co-ordinators will pilot in their schools and feed back to the SCiP Alliance on how useful it is.  The toolkit aims to help schools identify how well they’re doing at supporting Service children and the areas where improvements could possibly be made, Jess and I thought it looked really useful!

Jess, Beccy Dixon (Service Families Liaison Officer in York) and I have all attended Festival of Friends Network meetings in our areas.  It is so wonderful to see representatives from different schools working together and inspiring each other!  I am really excited to see how the individual Festival of Friends projects develop, I can only speak for the projects in the Catterick area but they sound really exciting!

The Festival of Friends inspired our Adopt-A-School project, which we are working closely with the Garrison on.  The aim of the adopt-a-school project is to promote positive relationships between the military and the local schools, we have asked regiments to adopt a school and then work closely with them to support that school with events and projects.  Response from the Garrison to the project has been really positive and enthusiastic, we’re now working on connecting schools with regiments.  We’re excited to see this project develop!

January saw the first Service Families Strategy Group meeting of the year, the SFSG is a really useful forum for representatives from schools, NYCC and the military to share information.  The next meeting will be held on Friday 24th April 2020 and will be chaired by the new SFSG Chair, Angela Campbell from Le Cateau Primary School – you’re very welcome to attend!

Jess and I continue to support children in schools, we have both been delivering ‘All Set’, a 5/6 week programme written by the Early Help service which encourages positive relationships.  We have also been offering 1:1 support to children, referral forms are available if you would like to refer a service child for this support.  The Anxiety Workshops have been refreshed, incorporating new research on anxiety and are still free!  Please contact us for more information or to arrange workshops in your school.

Jess has been working closely with NYCC on the county-wide VE Day celebrations – we’ll be in touch soon with more information!  Finally, I’m really excited that our Armed Forces Day for Schools event will take place again this year.  Despite being allowed to invite more children and young people this year, spaces were all allocated within two days of the invitation emails being sent!  Planning is underway - it promises to be another amazing day!

Keep an eye out for the new Dandelion Blog, the first issue features the Service to Remember at Ripon Cathedral from the point of view of some of the children who took part.  It should be published after half term….

Stay warm & safe!


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A post-Christmas blog!

Posted 6/1/2020

appy New Year to you all and hope you have all had a lovely Christmas! Apologies for the absence of my December instalment – I had a very busy last month before the Christmas holidays having to take some time off work with all three children poorly with chicken pox – typical it coincided with my husband being away for a few weeks – I know many military spouses will agree with me that all the drama always seems to happen when they go away!

I cannot quite believe it’s a new decade  – and 2020 promises some exciting times ahead! The Festival of Friends is up and running with one very successful meeting already having taken place, and two more planned for the next couple of weeks. This sharing of good practice surrounding Service Pupils between the schools in North Yorkshire will be so rewarding and hopefully the schools will learn a lot from each other moving forward.  The University of York have confirmed that the Festival of Friends Celebration event will take place on Thursday 17th September in their Spring Lane Building, it promises to be a fantastic event!

Also coming up this year is the 75th anniversary of VE Day, which already has lots of exciting plans in the pipeline such as a “Living History” project documenting the memories of WWII veterans as well as the families back home who celebrated the end of the war all those years ago by hosting street parties – something we are hoping to help the schools recreate in May.

Nickie and I are also working on setting up a new Service Pupils’ blog – the Dandelion Blog -  to run alongside ours which will be written by the Service Pupils themselves and it will be lovely to hear their own voices. Their first blog will be all about their experiences attending the Cathedral Service back in November.

In more political news – the government has earmarked £2m each year for the next 10 years on improving Early Years provision for service families, and 2020 will involve scoping out how to distribute this fund by looking at demand and need.

The next SFSG meeting will take place at 0930 on 23rd January 2020 at The Pavilion, Richmond School, we’re looking forward to seeing you there!


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