Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved military children and young people, officially opened their seventh Scotty lodge for bereaved Forces families on Wednesday March 29.

As well as offering a range of support to children and young people, aged 0 – 25, who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, Scotty’s Little Soldiers provides respite breaks to give bereaved military families a chance to get away from their daily routines and make new happy memories together. Because the break is organised by Scotty’s, families naturally have conversations about their loved one who has died. It’s an opportunity to talk in a safe environment away from home.

The new lodge, based at Devon Cliffs Haven, was unveiled in an opening ceremony attended by Scotty’s founder, Nikki Scott, the Palin family, who are supported by the charity, and representatives from Forces Support, who have generously funded the entire costs associated with the new lodge. The ceremony involved the cutting of a ribbon and a celebration with cake, balloons and a special visit from Haven’s mascots.

Carol Reynolds, CEO of Forces Support, said, “Forces Support are delighted to have been able to fully fund the purchase of a new lodge, based at Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, on behalf of Scotty’s Little Soldiers. We hope that all the families who visit enjoy their stay and benefit from the chance to spend some quality time together making new happy memories."

Scotty’s founder, Nikki, set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2010 following the death of her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, in Afghanistan. The first thing she wanted to do was to give bereaved military children the opportunity to go on a respite break. This idea occurred to her on a family holiday nine months after her husband’s death, when she saw her son, Kai – who was 5 at the time – playing in the swimming pool and smile for the first time since his dad had died. Nikki wanted to give other bereaved Forces children the same opportunity to smile.

Nikki said: “As soon as I saw the positive impact a holiday had on my family, I wanted to provide breaks for other bereaved Forces families. Including our new lodge at Devon Cliffs, Scotty’s now has seven holiday homes, which means more bereaved military families can have that much-needed break, spend some quality time together, have those really important conversations about their loved one and remember that it’s okay to smile. That’s what it’s all about.

Nikki continued: “We are so grateful to Forces Support for their incredible generosity which enables us to make a difference to the lives of children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.”

Scotty’s respite breaks take place all over the UK, with six more lodges located around UK Haven sites, including one other at Devon Cliffs, just a short walk from the brand-new lodge. Due to the number of families the charity supports, Scotty’s also provides breaks at Butlins, Alton Towers and Center Parcs.

So far this year, Scotty’s has supported over 600 bereaved CYP, and the charity has a long-term goal of supporting 1000 bereaved military children and young people annually by 2030.