Children from military families give glimpse into their lives

Benedict Simpson-Alexander, a Year 12 student at Richmond Sixth Form College, being interviewed by BFBS Catterick for the video featuring children of Armed Forces families in North Yorkshire.

Children from military familieshave given a fascinating glimpse into life in the Armed Forces as part of a month-long celebration.

North Yorkshire Council is supporting the Month of the Military Child during April, which has been an annual celebration since 1986 when it was first staged in the United States of America.

As part of the event, children and families of Armed Forces personnel in North Yorkshire have been invited to open a window onto their world by sharing a photograph that is special to them and that encapsulates military life.

Other activities have included the production of a video featuring Service children from across North Yorkshire talking about what makes them proud, their biggest challenges and what they would like people to know about military life.

The video has been produced in collaboration with the Catterick branch of BFBS, which is a charity that has been involved in broadcasting and communications for the Armed Forces for more than 75 years, and NY Youth Voice.

More than 100 entries were submitted for the photographic challenge, and five images, plus a ‘Champion’s Choice’ have been shortlisted. Each of the shortlisted entries, which have been chosen by a panel of judges, is to be honoured with a special commendation and a prize for a family day out.

The council’s executive member for children and families, Cllr Janet Sanderson, said: “Month of the Military Child is a time to applaud Armed Forces families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

“It is important to put a spotlight on military children, because they sacrifice so much that allows their parents to selflessly serve.”

North Yorkshire has a proud history associated with the Armed Forces which dates back more than a century, and there are 10,770 military personnel in the county – one of the largest numbers nationally.

There are currently 3,653 Service children in 223 schools across North Yorkshire. Military children face challenges related to regularly moving home, deployments of serving parents and the impact of these challenges on their emotional well-being.

North Yorkshire’s Service children’s champions, Jess Greenhalgh and Angela Campbell, provide support for the large number of military children in North Yorkshire, their families and schools. They aim to raise awareness of the challenges faced by service children, create opportunities for them to come together and celebrate and to advocate on their behalf.

Mrs Campbell said: “We asked the judges to select a photo which they felt reflected the theme of ‘Welcome to Our World’ as children from Service families go on incredible journeys, both highs and lows, often being separated from their parents or friends as a result of deployments or postings.”

Mrs Campbell and Mrs Greenhalgh will visit all five finalists in the last week of April to present them with a trophy and prize at school as part of the Month of the Military Child celebrations.

RAF Leeming Group Captain Gareth Prendergast, who was one of the judges, said: “I was really impressed with the quality of the pictures and how they evoked the emotions and feelings of being a parent and carer of service children. It is wonderful to recognise the importance of our children to family life in the service.

“There are so many ways that children are involved with service life for those that live on military bases through to those that may have a more fixed home due to the choices that a service family has to make to meet their needs. Of course, service life can be challenging for children, with regular moves or the deployment of their parents and carers. These pictures showed these aspects and more, really capturing the essence of their relationships.”

The video can be viewed https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100089505671518 or by visiting the Service Children’s Champion Facebook page.

The photographic entries as well as more news from the service children’s champions is available on social media at https://linktr.ee/servicechildrenschampion

More information on support for children in military families is also available via email on servicechildrenschampion@northyorks.gov.uk