The ever-popular Family Values Award appeals to a wide number of nominators, as it encompasses so many people within the wider Armed Forces community. The Award honours a person, family or group whose selfless commitment, dedication and support for others in the Armed Forces Community ensures that they are cared for, supported or helped. This selfless act is therefore a shining example to society.
The Ambassador for this category is Vicki Michelle MBE. You can read about Vicki’s support for the Soldiering On Awards here.
The Finalists for the Family Values Award are:
Justine Clayton & Lee Bayley – DMWS Removing Barriers to Family Life Team
Justine Clayton and Lee Bayley make up the fantastic team delivering the “Removing Barriers to Family Life” project, funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust. They deliver life-changing welfare support to serving personnel, Veterans and their families in Somerset and Herefordshire. Many of these cases are extremely complex, dealing with issues such as suicide, PTSD, and substance and domestic abuse.
Since the project began in 2020, the team has drawn upon their personal and professional knowledge and experiences to support 146 members of the Armed Forces Community, 300 family members, and 165 NHS staff. They have improved the well-being of service users by 85% overall which, in a time of unprecedented demand and uncertainty due to COVID-19, is exceptional and life-changing for many military families.
The team has built trust and reputation within their local communities, across statutory organisations, with the NHS, charities, and, most importantly, with the families they support. To consistently support each family with such commitment and dedication is an achievement.
“Justine and Lee have dedicated themselves wholeheartedly to meeting the individual needs of service users and their family members; their compassion, expertise, and resilience is instrumental in delivering such high-quality support.”
The team embodies best practices through a commitment to building networks of care through joint-working across sectors that are empowered, individualised, and choice-based. They also emphasise the importance of connecting individuals and their families to their local communities, not just Veteran-specific groups, to build confidence and self-reliance.
“Justine and Lee’s dedication to supporting military families is extraordinary and worthy of acknowledgement; they are a lifeline, both to the individuals who have served and for the families who have dedicated their lives to service but are often forgotten.”
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a lifelong condition affecting the brain and spinal cord, causing a wide range of potential symptoms and serious disability. It’s most commonly diagnosed in people in their 20s and 30s, and is no respecter of service, rank, dependent or veteran; it’s a devastating wrench that puts enormous pressure on the whole family.
Established 31 years ago, Mutual Support organises weekends away for its members and is the only MS charity to offer tailored support, counselling and advocacy for the specialist and geographical needs of the military family. Its volunteers share their vast experience with over 1,000 members, ensuring that they are given the best and most up-to-date advice available.
Engaging with a group of like-minded people has an incredibly positive and powerful effect on members who often come to Mutual Support feeling despondent, depressed and, sometimes, suicidal.
“People come to the support weekends broken and return home whole; people come lonely and go home with friends; whole families who come fractured, go home in one piece; children who come as young carers go home as themselves once more. These benefits are priceless and life-affirming, life-changing.”
The charity campaigns hard at the government level for the rights of people with MS, and particularly for those in the military. Support and funding are obtained from tri-service charities that value its mission.
“Mutual Support has shown me a huge amount of warmth and sympathy which has helped me to cope with difficult times. Without them, I don’t know where we would be now. My family and I owe them a huge debt of gratitude.”
In August 2021, 12-year-old Seren Killpartrick discovered that her dad, Paul Killpartrick, a Royal Navy Engineer, had been diagnosed with a terminal brain tumour.
Unfortunately, there was no cure, but a special life-prolonging treatment was available privately. Faced with one of the scariest times of her life, Seren decided to raise funds so that her dad could benefit from this treatment.
She had an idea whilst paddle boarding with her aunt to attempt to paddle board from the Isle of Wight to Stokes Bay, Gosport, and crowd-fund to raise the £100,000 needed for Paul’s treatment.
Together, Seren and Paul created a YouTube Vlog to raise the profile of the challenge (#SerensHope). The Forces community, especially the Royal Navy community, rallied, supported, donated and shared the Vlog and Seren’s crowd-funding page.
“Seren has shown complete dedication and selfless commitment to supporting her dad with his fight with terminal cancer. Her devotion helped to raise the funds needed for Paul’s treatment, unavailable on the NHS.”
On 16th September 2021, Seren set out for the five mile paddle across the Solent. Her fearless determination was remarkable, and she felt so proud seeing the local media, friends and family – including her biggest fan, Paul – waiting on the Gosport beach to greet her with a heroic reception!
Seren had achieved her goal and managed to raise an incredible £100,000!!
“Seren is truly a remarkable young lady and a shining example of our military community. Having both parents serving in the RN has subsequently taught her a lot of life skills (resilience, determination and courage) so I’m not surprised she did it, and with such a huge smile on her face!”