Laura, Kate and Jane Burgan attend SSAFA Support Groups for bereaved siblings after their brother was killed in Afghanistan.

Our stories

Hear from the SSAFA family

Our stories

  • Captain John Phillips

    Captain John Phillips, volunteers with SSAFA's Woking Division

    Captain John Phillips DSC, 74, served with the Royal Engineers Bomb Disposal Regiment during the Falklands Conflict in 1982. John was defusing a 500kg bomb on-board HMS Antelope when it exploded. John's colleague was sadly killed, whilst John himself was badly injured resulting in the amputation of his left arm at the shoulder. He became a SSAFA caseworker in Coventry when he retired in 2002 and after moving to Surrey now volunteers with SSAFA’s Woking Division.

  • Dorothy Walters

    Dorothy Walters

    Dorothy Walters, 97, was 23 and living in Salisbury when she volunteered to join the Royal Navy during World War II. She was based at Horseguards Parade in London where she worked as a Wren Writer. She is now a member of SSAFA’s Southend Veterans Club and enjoys her regular outing.

  • Pat Fordham

    Pat Fordham

    Pat Fordham, 90, joined the ATS in 1943 as a 17-year-old who was still entitled to a daily milk ration. She worked as a teleprinter operator at the Supreme Headquarters of the Allied Expeditionary Force under Goodge Street tube station and was on duty when Allied troops entered Bergen-Belsen Concentration Camp for the first time.

  • SSAFA beneficiary louis smit

    Louis Smit

    Louis Smit, originally from South Africa, served with 2 Para for 10 years. Married with two children, Louis was medically discharged from the Army in 2013 after he was seriously injured in Afghanistan. With SSAFA's help, he is currently retraining as an electrician.

  • gaz golightly ssafa beneficiary caseworker

    Denise and Gareth Golightly

    Denise and Gareth have three children aged six, five and two. Gareth was a vehicle specialist in the Royal Logistics Corps from 2001 to 2004. His right leg was amputated above the knee following a car accident in which he also suffered damage to his left leg. He was medically discharged in 2004. SSAFA has supported the family in adapting their home and making the garden more accessible. Gaz has since excelled at sports including wheelchair basketball, and SSAFA has also assisted him in applying for funding for sports equipment.

  • eugene conlin ssafa beneficiary helped by ssafa volunteer

    Eugene Conlin

    Eugene Conlin, 65, joined the Army in 1970 and was a corporal when he was made redundant in 1979. He went on to serve three years in the TA before joining the RAF Regiment at the age of 32 and serving a further six years. He left the forces in 1989. Eugene struggles with his back and a long-term knee injury sustained during a training exercise and was unable to get out and about without a car until SSAFA organised funding for a mountain trike.

  • Paul Lewis

    Paul Lewis

    (Pte) Paul Lewis, 38, joined the Parachute Regiment in 1999. He sustained a leg injury during a tour of Iraq which left him unable to parachute and was later diagnosed with PTSD. The father-of-one left the Army in 2007. When Paul was left homeless following a relationship breakdown earlier this year he ended up sleeping in his car but SSAFA was able to find him somewhere to live and furnish it with everything he needed.

  • Liam Martin

    Liam Martin

    Liam Martin, 27, joined the Army at 16 and served with First Battalion, the Royal Green Jackets. He completed tours of Iraq, Kosovo and Afghanistan but was medically discharged in 2014, five years after being diagnosed with PTSD. Liam is unable to work and SSAFA has assisted the family with payment of rent, utility bills and removal expenses. Liam now uses running to help him cope with his PTSD.

  • Garry Morrison

    Garry Morrison

    Garry Morrison (Cpl), 35, served nine years in the RAF. The father-of-two has undergone 14 back operations after snapping his spine in two places in a parachute accident in 2003 and recently lost his sight after contracting chicken pox as an adult. After he was made redundant from his job on an oil rig he was left with no permanent place to live and failing eyesight. He has now been allocated housing and SSAFA has supported him in equipping his new home.

  • Jason Wheeler

    Jason Wheeler, 43, served 15 years in the Army. He was medically discharged in 2013 suffering from PTSD and depression and became increasingly isolated, shunning contact with the outside world and hoarding rubbish in his flat. When he was burgled in 2015 it proved to be a turning point and a SSAFA caseworker has helped him to look to the future. Jason now uses art to help him focus and recently won the Army Templar Award for soldiers who use art as a therapy for mental health problems.

  • Andy Bracey

    Andy Bracey

    Andy Bracey, 41, joined the Royal Artillery in 1990 and later served with REME but tours of Northern Ireland and Iraq have left him with severe anxiety. The father-of-one was medically discharged from the Army in 2007 following a motorbike accident but has found a new lease of life in sport and returned from the 2016 Invictus Games with two silver and two bronze medals for wheelchair racing. SSAFA is assisting Andy with getting his home adapted and he is also a member of SSAFA’s Southend Veterans Club.

  • Alfred Smith

    Alfred Smith

    Alfred Smith, 97, from Essex, served in the Royal Army Service Corps during World War II. He was evacuated from Dunkirk and went on to take part in the D-Day landings before being hospitalised by a shrapnel injury. Alfred lost his wife Betty 14 years ago. He is now a regular member at SSAFA’s Southend Veterans Club.

  • Mindy and Lee

    Mindy and her husband Lee, who is in the RAF Regiment, have adopted two brothers through the SSAFA Adoption Service.

  • Georgina and Spencer

    Georgina and her husband Spencer, a WO2 in the Army (retiring June 2016), have been together 20 years. They adopted their daughter Mollie*, now seven, 18 months ago.

  • World War Two veteran Ernest Crisp

    Ernest Crisp

    Ernest Crisp joined the Royal Marines in 1942 at the age of 17. During World War Two he was involved in the D-Day landings, providing firing cover for the Canadian troops landing at Juno Beach, and the Battle of Walcharen. Now 92, Ernest is a member of SSAFA’s Southend Veterans Club.

  • James Wilkinson, Lance Corporal with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps  - SSAFA Beneficiary

    James Wilkinson

    James Wilkinson, Lance Corporal with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps was critically injured in an IED explosion. With SSAFA’s help, he now runs a dog hydrotherapy business.

  • veteran toby southgate

    Toby Southgate

    Toby Southgate, 43, joined the Royal Corps of Transport as a 16-year-old in 1989 and served in the first Gulf War, but left the Army in 1993. Dogged by ill-health, he has never found the stability which service life gave him. He has served time in prison and is currently homeless but is trying to build his own business.

  • Royal Navy veteran Janina

    Janina Sweeney

    Janina Sweeney, 38, joined the Royal Navy at 19 but was medically discharged after serving for eight years, leaving in 2004. Battling depression, she struggled to adjust to civilian life and is now wheelchair-bound and unable to work.

  • Veteran David Swift

    David Swift

    David Swift joined the Army on his 17th birthday and served for almost six years in the 1st Battalion the Queens Lancashire regiment during which time he served in the First Gulf War. He now lives with his partner and seven-year-old daughter but says it took him ten years to settle into civilian life.

  • Major Woolley world war one

    Memories from The Somme

    Months after her husband Captain (subsequently Major) Dick Woolley was reported missing during one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, Lucy Woolley received a telegram from Germany. It read simply: “Cheers, Best Love. Woolley.” The wire was the confirmation she had been hoping for that, contrary to some reports, her husband had, against all the odds, survived the Battle of the Somme and was being held captive in Germany.

  • William Anson ssafa case study

    William Anson

    Ex Scots Guardsman William Anson had no home and no way to see his daughter after the breakdown of his relationship. SSAFA helped him secure a flat and furnishings so he was secure and his daughter could stay.

  • Bereaved Mum Sally Veck

    Sally Veck

    Three years after Sally Veck’s combat medic daughter was killed in Iraq, she was still crying every day. Finding a way out of her grief seemed to be impossible. But through SSAFA Sally found consolation in helping other bereaved parents.

  • world war two veteran

    Edgar Slator

    World War Two veteran Edgar Slater, 97, has lived alone since his wife passed away 27 years ago. He suffers from macular degeneration and is registered blind. When his boiler stopped working in the middle of winter his SSAFA caseworker was able to secure funding and get the boiler replaced in a matter of days.

  • Andy Phillips Invictus Games 2016 Archery

    Andy Phillips

    Andy Phillips served in the RAF for 10 years but sustained a career-ending back injury during the Gulf War. He was medically discharged in 1993 but struggled to find work that he could do with his injury. Two decades on and he is about to compete in his second Invictus Games having secured a gold medal in archery at the 2014 event.

  • Invictus games Scott Meenagh rower

    Scott Meenagh

    In 2011, Scott was serving in Afghanistan when he stepped on an IED and lost both his legs. Scott refused to let misfortune hold him back and is now competing in the 2016 Invictus Games.

  • Rifleman Twigg and his autistic son Freddie

    Freddie Twigg

    Rifleman Shaun Twigg's youngest son Freddie has autism, SSAFA helped create a safe haven for him at home.

  • Amputee veteran Mark Innes and his wife at the SSAFA Ride of Britain

    Mark Innes

    After a football injury resulted in veteran Mark having his leg amputated, SSAFA provided a stair lift for his home.

  • When combat engineer Sam was injured in Afghanistan, SSAFA was there for him and his family

    Sam Jack

    When combat engineer Sam was injured in Afghanistan, SSAFA was there for him and his family.

  • Scott, from Greenock near Glasgow, is walking the West Highland Way (98 miles) in five days to raise money for SSAFA

    Scott Alexander

    After SSAFA helped Scott and his family with the additional needs of his daughter, he is giving back to SSAFA by walking the West Highland Way

  • Lindsey Weir

    Lindsey Weir

    After Lindsey sustained an injury during physical training in the Army, her future was uncertain. SSAFA helped with her travel costs to see her doctor.

  • Lydnsey Weller PTSD SSAFA

    Lyndsey Weller

    Former Army Combat Medical Technician Lyndsey was medically discharged with PTSD in 2012, SSAFA helped her to retrain for a new career as a paramedic.

  •   Mum-of-two Steph sent her daughter on the SSAFA Siblings and Young Carers Short Break for the first time in 2015.

    Steph Eustace

    “Last year we heard about the SSAFA Siblings Breaks from our local SSAFA branch. I looked into it and thought what an amazing opportunity it would be for Felicity to have a break, make some friends who are in the same boat, and have fun.''

  • The UK’s first triple amputee, Mark Ormrod was among the visitors to SSAFA’s Norton House in Surrey for his rehabilitation and now provides support to fellow amputees.

    Mark Ormrod

    “It’s vital that other servicemen and women and veterans who face challenges like me know they and their families can rely on the support of SSAFA now and in the future. That’s why I’m supporting SSAFA - they can only provide that support with the public’s help.”

  • Rob Cromey-Hawke was injured in Afghanistan

    Rob Cromey-Hawke

    Rob Cromey-Hawke sustained life-changing brain, back and spinal injuries in Afghanistan. SSAFA made sure his family could be there for him during his recovery.

  • Martin's son was killed in Afghanistan

    Martin Harrison and his wife Gill

    Martin and Gill's younger son Corporal Christopher Harrison, 26, died in a fatal explosion on 9 May 2010. Their lives have been affected since that day but with the help of SSAFA's Bereaved Family Support Group they have found ways to cope.

  • Cheryl talks about the pain of losing her son and what SSAFA’s bereaved family support groups mean to her.

    Cheryl Routledge

    “I went to the first meeting not knowing what to expect. The SSAFA staff are so lovely and understanding. They took time to chat to everyone and the experience of meeting other families in our situation was really positive.”

  • Former military medic Michelle Partington

    Michelle Partington

    Michelle was the first female to work on the frontline with the RAF regiment. She was left traumatised by her experience of battle in Afghanistan .Her struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder left her terrified to leave the house alone. She credits SSAFA with giving her a second chance.

  • Derek spent 12 years in the RAF and was sent to the Falklands and Belize as part of his role with an Air Defence unit. In 1996, he left the UK Forces and for the last 15 years Derek has volunteered for SSAFA.

    Derek Wagle

    Derek spent 12 years in the RAF and was sent to the Falklands and Belize as part of his role with an Air Defence unit. In 1996, he left the UK Forces and for the last 15 years Derek has volunteered for SSAFA.

  • After Olivia's brother Corporal Liam Riley was killed in Afghanistan, she attended SSAFA's Support Group for Bereaved Families.

    Olivia Routledge

    After Olivia's brother Corporal Liam Riley was killed in Afghanistan, she attended SSAFA's Support Group for Bereaved Families.

  • Former RAF infantry gunner Alex and his wife Lisa found themselves homeless after he was diagnosed with PTSD.

    Alex Askew

    Former RAF infantry gunner was suffering with PTSD and living in his car. SSAFA helped him and his wife get back on their feet.

  • Zach has complex health needs, SSAFA raised the money to cover their travel expenses and give them a much needed family holiday

    Four-year-old Zach

    Zach has complex health needs, SSAFA raised the money to cover their hospital travel expenses and give them a much needed family holiday

  • big brew up

    Beverley and Elizabeth

    When Corporal Harvey Holmes was killed while serving in Afghanistan at the age of just 22, his mum Beverley and older sister Elizabeth were devastated. Through joining SSAFA’s Bereaved Families Support Group they have been able to meet and talk to other families in similar situations – people who understood how they felt.

  • Sonia Baker, wife of Royal Marine, with her mobility scooter from SSAFA

    Sonia Baker

    Sonia, wife of former Royal Marine Anthony, shares memories of celebrating VE Day when she was 15 and her life in the Armed Forces family since then.

  • Former Army Sergeant, George, was seriously injured in Afghanistan. Now his SSAFA Mentor David is helping him settle into civillian life.

    George Norton

    Former Army Sergeant, George, was seriously injured in Afghanistan. Now his SSAFA Mentor David is helping him settle into civillian life.

  • SSAFA helped veteran Alan to get things for his house

    Alan Smith

    When veteran Alan couldn't afford a washing machine or fridge, SSAFA stepped in.

  • Edward and William both have cerebal palsy. SSAFA provided them with a specialist wheelchair and bed.

    The Larkin family

    Edward and William both have cerebal palsy. SSAFA provided them with a specialist wheelchair and bed.

  • When Veteran Tony suffered life-changing injuries, SSAFA provided him with a specialised wheelchair.

    Tony Robinson

    When Veteran Tony suffered life-changing injuries, SSAFA provided him with a specialised wheelchair.

  • When veteran Christian fell on hard times both he and his young daughter found themselves homeless. SSAFA was there to support them.

    Christian

    Veteran Christian fell on hard times and both he and his young daughter found themselves homeless. SSAFA found them a home.

  • When Janets marriage broke down, SSAFA's Stepping Stone Homes gave her a safe place to go.

    Janet

    When Janets marriage broke down, SSAFA's Stepping Stone Homes gave her a safe place to go.

  • Matthew loved his SSAFA short break for children with additional needs

    Ten-year-old Matthew

    Matthew was born with Down’s syndrome. Last year Matthew, 10, attended SSAFA’s short break for children with additional needs. It was a chance for him to try new experiences and even to be away from home for the first time. He loved every minute of it!

  • How we helped five-year-old Travis

    Five-year-old Travis

    Five-year-old Travis has medical conditions that affect every aspect of his life and impact his development. When he needed a special bed, SSAFA was there to help. Now he has a bed built to his requirements - and it's his favourite place in the world.

  • As a SSAFA volunteer, Bill spends his time speaking to veterans and helping to solve their problems.

    Bill Aitkenhead

    As a SSAFA volunteer, Bill spends his time speaking to veterans and helping to solve their problems.

  • When Karla's brother Private Lee Ellis was killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq her life fell apart. With the help of SSAFA's Bereaved Siblings Support Group (BSSG) she has put it back together.

    Karla Ellis

    Karla's brother was killed in Afghanistan. SSAFA's Support Groups helped her put her life back together.

  • When Amir was mediaclly discharged from the Army he suddenly found himself facing homelessness. SSAFA was there to help.

    Amir Muntaka

    When Amir was facing homelessness, SSAFA assisted with his moving costs and provided essential items for his home.

  • Laura, Kate and Jane Burgan attend SSAFA Support Groups for bereaved siblings after their brother was killed in Afghanistan.

    Laura, Kate and Jayne Burgan

    When their brother was killed in Afghanistan, Laura, Kate and Jayne found mutual support from SSAFA's Support Groups for bereaved families and siblings.

  • When Kevin was injured in Afghanistan, SSAFA made sure his family could be by his side when he needed them most.

    Kev and Amie Ogilvie

    Senior Aircraftman Kevin Ogilvie was injured serving in Afghanistan. While he was in hospital, his family were able to stay at our SSAFA Norton Homes.

  • andy grant

    Andy Grant

    For Royal Marine Andy Grant, putting his body on the line was just part of fulfilling his duty. One trip wire in Helmand Province tore his body apart in seconds, and 18 months of intensive rehabilitation followed. SSAFA made sure his family were able to be at his side when he needed them most.