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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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Posted 21/11/2019

Happy November – is it too early to break out the Christmas Jumper?!  This month’s blog is a little (ahem) late – turns out that organising the Service at Ripon Cathedral takes up a LOT of time!

The Service was gorgeous, 700(ish) children in the pews, a choir of 120 making their debut performance, school staff & VIPs – there were a lot of people in the Cathedral!  Which must have made taking part in the Service nerve-wracking for the children who read, sang, carried Standards and laid wreaths but I wouldn’t have known it, they were all wonderful.  Daniel, Bradley and Ava read the Bible passage beautifully and clearly, the prayers written and read by Scarlet, Kenzie, Erin and Teddy were so thoughtful.  Dylan and Deborah handled the very heavy Standards with care and respect and Cara & Isadora did a good job of standing still at the Altar during the two minutes silence which we forgot to warn them about!  The new Northern MKC Heroes Choir sang so beautifully they brought a tear to my eye.  As I greeted them on their way into the Cathedral each one of them told me how nervous they were about the performance and how worried they were they would forget the words, or the tune, or just not be able to sing!  They were wonderful and we’re excited to see them develop.

The artwork this year was completely gorgeous – thank you so much to everyone who contributed.  We had over 1,000 bootprints to display (no prizes for guessing that Jess & I spent half term cutting them out!) and the decorated boots were wonderful!  When I received the boxes of boots from Capt. Col Taylor I couldn’t imagine how we were going to make a D-Day commemorative display from them.  I shouldn’t have worried!  The decorated boots we received were amazing – I have even been asked if we would consider auctioning them to raise money for the RBL!  If you were unable to see the boots while they were on display there are lots of photos in the gallery for you to look at!

As most of you know, this was the first year that Jess and I have organised the Service at Ripon Cathedral – as I kept telling anyone who would listen; I normally just make the tea!  It was a steep learning curve, we think it went well but we will learn from the experience – starting with the hymns!  Perhaps next year you would like to be involved in choosing them?  We could have The Hymn Factor…

The Festival of Friends project is up and running, we have had a productive meeting with the three Area Service Pupil Coordinators: Angela Campbell from Le Cateau Primary School, Michelle Lister from Linton-on-Ouse Primary School  & Charlotte Umpleby from Newpark Primary Academy, and the Catterick Area have had a very successful and inspiring first Armed Forces Champion meeting.  It will be interesting to see how the school projects develop in the coming months.

Annabel has asked that we let you know there will be another SENDIASS Training and Information Event at Le Cateau Primary School at 09:30 on Tuesday 3rd December. Further information is available through Annabel.

This month I received a link to the website and it is my new favourite thing!  The website is aimed at helping those who are supporting children who have suffered developmental trauma, there are sections for home, school and social workers.  The ‘What Survival Looks Like’ slideshows could easily describe how anxious children feel and how we can support them.  There are two slideshows, one for primary schools: and one for secondary schools: , they are really well written and really interesting!

Hope you enjoy what’s left of November!


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My First Hello!

Posted 11/10/2019


Happy October everyone! It really seems like the year has flown by and the summer seems like a distant memory, but I am very happy to be in the midst of Autumn and back in boots and cosy jumpers. It has been a bit miserable and wet but it’s my favourite time of the year – I love the beautiful autumnal colours, the colder weather and wrapping up for a crisp dog walk – but it’s also my birthday month which this year is a Big Birthday – so very exciting!

As a family, we have all settled in quickly to our new home at RAF Linton-on-Ouse. We have moved onto the base while unfortunately many people will soon be gone by the end of the month! But we are very pleased to be back in Yorkshire, and much closer to a wider support network of and friends, which as any military family will know is rare and valuable.

So far I have been absolutely loving the new job. It comes with so much variety, so week to week I’m in lots of different places meeting lots of new faces. I have really enjoyed visiting some of the schools around my area of North Yorkshire – I definitely feel most comfortable in a school environment! – and I am looking forward to visiting more in the coming year. Everybody has been very welcoming and it’s great to see we definitely all share the same passion and focus; to support our wonderful service pupils. I have already met and worked with some lovely new little faces, and I am hoping to fill up more of my time with working 1:1 with those pupils who are in need of a bit of special attention and focus – so please do not hesitate to contact me if you feel there are any children in your school who would benefit from this.

A big thanks to my wonderful colleague Nickie who has been bombarded with emails and phone calls from me as I’m working my way around the new role! Despite my many annoying emails we have clicked straight away and I think we already make a good team. We have (thankfully!) partnered up to organise the final bits and pieces for the Ripon Cathedral Service, which is such a big legacy to take on from my predecessor Annabel! Luckily I had the opportunity to spend a couple of days with Annabel who passed on some of her wealth of knowledge, and I am hoping we can do the event justice! All will be alright on the night as they say J

The email about the artwork for the Cathedral Service has now been sent out to all and we are very excited to see the direction all the schools and the children take for the decoration of the boots and the bootprints! The Remembrance Service this year is focused on the 75th Anniversary of D Day, and we are hoping schools will also be inspired by veteran Mr John Jeffries who played an integral part in D Day when he and his regiment parachuted into Arnhem.  Mr Jeffries was recently featured on the British Army website talking about his experiences, the interview is available here :

MKC Heroes have issued a recall of all the MKC Badges due to a possible allergic reaction to the content of the badges.  Paula Rowe has emailed MKC schools and would be very grateful if you would respond confirming that you have received the information.  Thank you!

Looking forward to seeing many of you at the Cathedral next month – have a great October and hopefully this rain will clear up soon so we can see more of those lovely crisp, sunny Autumn days!



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Happy New Year!

Posted 13/9/2019


I hope you have all had a great start to the new academic year! 

This will be my sixth year as a Service Pupils’ Champion!  I’m probably more nervous about this one than I was about my first because I will no longer have Annabel - my collaborator, co-conspirator and font of all SPC knowledge – to keep me right.  Luckily we have the very lovely Jess Greenhalgh (pronounced Greenhalž like the French ‘je’!) joining the SPC team, and being put in right at the deep end planning the Remembrance Service at Ripon Cathedral!

I’m an RAF wife and Mummy to three - a 5 year old daughter and 1 year old twin boys! My little girl has had 4 nursery/school moves already, and we moved from Yorkshire to Oxfordshire when the boys were only 10 weeks old - so I am familiar with the changes, moves, separation from families and other challenges that service families face. My background is in primary teaching; I graduated in 2012 and I have had lots of experience working with many unique children from varying backgrounds. 

Since beginning my own family, I developed a keen interest in supporting service children in schools, especially knowing my own children will be facing similar challenges to those service pupils I have worked with during my teaching career. Starting this new role as a Service Pupils’ Champion is really exciting for me as I can now really focus on that passion to help service families like my own!

Jess is looking forward to meeting many of you over the coming weeks!  If you’d like to get in touch her email address is

Towards the end of last term Matt Blyton proposed the Festival of Friends project, a collaborative project aimed at developing and sharing good practice in supporting Service children in North Yorkshire and City of York schools. It supports the progress and welfare of Service children, strengthens staff understanding of their unique needs whilst improving their integration with non-Service children.  Matt’s bid for funding for the project was successful and the first planning meeting takes place next week.  You’ll be hearing a lot more about the Festival of Friends project!

The Service Children’s Remembrance Service takes place on Friday 8th November at Ripon Cathedral.  The theme this year will be linked to the 75th Anniversary of D Day, Jess and I will be in touch soon with information about the artwork for this year.  We’re looking forward to seeing you all in November.

Next year sees the 75th anniversary of VE Day, Jess and I are working together on a commemorative project which we hope will bring schools, veterans and the local museums together to commemorate and celebrate VE Day 75, hopefully culminating in some celebratory street / garden parties.  We’ll be in touch with more information soon!

The SPC Anxiety Workshops are still available, free of charge, to all schools. The workshops are not limited to Service Pupils, or to anxious pupils!  In fact, I believe that they have more impact when they are offered to all children – we will all experience anxiety at some point in our lives, understanding what it is and where it comes from goes some way to enabling us to overcome it.  If you would like further information about the workshops then please email me:

And that’s it for our first blog of the new academic year!  Hope you all have a lovely September, see you soon!





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Posted 17/7/2019

Hooray – last blog of the school year!  It has been very busy year and next year looks set to be the same! 

Armed Forces Day

June 20th saw us knee deep in military vehicles at Ypres Lines, Catterick Garrison for the 5th Armed Forces Day celebrations.  Almost 1000 children and young people watched, tasted, heard and tried all that the Armed Forces can offer.  Thank you to schools for bringing your children- a great day was had by all and for once the sun shone!  Thank you also for the gorgeous ‘Thank You’ letters which are a joy to receive and even more of a joy to share with Garrison HQ and the soldiers who are so patient with the children – especially the guy who wore full body armour all day so the children could beat him with a stick!  Our thanks, too, to our friends and colleagues in the MOD for making this day possible.  Photos of the day are available on the gallery page.


Writing Competition September 2019




Never Such Innocence: Giving Children and Young People a Voice on Conflict


To mark National Writing Day we are excited to announce our new competition launching in September 2019!

Following on from four successful centenary competitions, the Never Such Innocence 2019/20 competition will be bigger than ever!  We are delighted to open a new speechwriting category, and to broaden the age range to 9-18.

Our new project, Giving Children and Young People a Voice on Conflict, invites all young people aged 9-18 from across the world to process, respond to and reflect on all forms of conflict throughout history and consider the value of commemoration via our poetry, speech, song and art competition.

As always, our competition is completely free to enter. We are currently accepting early entries from all young people aged 9-18! Please do not filter entries so everyone may receive a very special Certificate of Commendation.

Behind the scenes, our team are producing a variety of resources that will be available from September 2019. More information about our resources for the upcoming competition are below!

As always, please don't hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. For more updates you can also follow us on twitter and instagram @neversuch!

 In our Centenary Project we received over 11,000 entries from over 47 different countries, territories and dependencies - thank you for playing your part in our International Movement, now let's reach even further!

Dates for your Diary…

First SFSG Meeting for the 2019/2020 term will be at 09:30 on Thursday 3rd October at Boroughbridge High School.

The Annual Remembrance Service for Service Children takes place on Friday 8th November at Ripon Cathedral, our theme this year will be the 75th Anniversary of the D-Day landings.  We’re looking forward to seeing you all there!

Anxiety Workshops

The Anxiety Workshops are still available to schools (for free!), please contact Nickie if you would like further information on the workshops available:

Emotional First Aid for Parents

The Early Help Service will be running another EFA for Parents course in September at Colburn Children’s Centre – please contact Nickie ( if you would further information about the course or would like to refer parents on to the course.


MOD Project April 2019-April 2020  If you have any families with children/young people with SEND  who need support please  ask them to contact Annabel Hall 07816648163 or Jane Clark 07730818129.

And Finally…

Lovely Annabel is leaving her role as SPC this week to pursue new adventures – including working with SENDIASS supporting military families.  Annabel was the original Service Pupils’ Champion and has seen her role develop and expand over the seven years she has been an SPC, at first for Ripon and then as the role grew so did the area she supported!  Annabel will be sorely missed, I particularly will miss her massive amount of Service Pupils’ knowledge, her guidance and her calm head!  I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Annabel for her tireless work and wish her the very best of luck for her future adventures!

Hope you have a completely gorgeous Summer Holiday!

Nickie & Annabel


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