Our stories

Hear from the SSAFA family

Our stories

  • Chandra

    Chandra

    SSAFA caseworker, Chandra, spent 14 years in the British Army.

  • Christian Dobson

    Christian Dobson

    Christian Dobson, 34, left the Royal Navy in 2014 after serving for almost 10 years. He now works for an engineering company and is studying part-time for a BSc in Electronic and Electrical Engineering at Robert Gordon University.

  • Sgt Ben Norfolk

    (Sgt) Ben Norfolk

    A passion for motor racing is helping former RAF Chinook engineer Ben Norfolk come to terms with a diagnosis of complex PTSD and an abrupt end to his military career.

  • Sgt Tim Weatherall and Cheryl

    Sgt Tim Weatherall and Cheryl

    When Emily Weatherall was rushed to hospital at just a few weeks old her parents Tim and Cheryl received the devastating news that her life hung in the balance. Diagnosed with a heart condition, Emily now requires careful monitoring. Labrador Collie Rocky is now being trained as an assistance dog for Emily with the financial support of the SSAFA team at Thorney Island.

  • Mark Smith

    Beneficiary turned caseworker Mark Smith explains how SSAFA's support for him and his family inspired him to give back.

  • Gemma and Louise

    Gemma and Louise

    The couple adopted their 14-month old daughter Lily through the SSAFA adoption service and are now in the process of adopting her younger sister.

  • Malcolm Pratt, 79, has worked as a Treasurer at SSFAFA’s Solihull Branch for 14 years and also a Caseworker for SSAFA’s Birmingham Division.

    Malcolm Pratt

    Malcolm Pratt, 79, has worked as a Treasurer at SSAFA's Solihull Branch for 14 years and also a Caseworker for SSAFA’s Birmingham Division. With a proud family history of military service he believes 'a lot of people don’t realise what our service men and women go through. It’s really rewarding to know that you can give something back to them through volunteering.'

  • Tony Jackson

    Tony Jackson, a retired Chartered Electrical Engineer, has been a caseworker with SSAFA’s Sussex Branch for 14 years. He has no military background but said that hasn’t held him back when dealing with veterans, adding: “You deal with a whole variety of cases and different issues which makes it a very rewarding role for anyone wanting to do some volunteering.”

  • Graham Fowler

    Former Guardsman Graham Fowler followed 25 years in the Army, where he served as both a Regimental Sergeant Major and a Quartermaster, with a second career in facilities management in the City. He has been a volunteer caseworker with SSAFA’s Brighton, Hove & Lewes Division for eight years.

  • Harry Garrett

    Harry Garrett

    Harry Garett, 99, lives in Sevenoaks, Kent. He joined the Territorial Army (Royal Artillery, 61st Anti Tank Regiment) with his brother Kenny in Brixton in 1938 and is a veteran of Dunkirk and El Alamein. SSAFA has assisted Harry in getting a mobility scooter enabling him to get out and about.

  • Lee Edwards

    Lee Edwards

    Lee Edwards (Cpl), 34, was medically discharged from the Army in September 2016 after being diagnosed with PTSD. He served in Northern Ireland (2001), Falklands (2004), Iraq (2003 and 2006) and Afghanistan (2009 and 2011) during his 17-year Army career which saw him transfer to the Royal Army Veterinary Corps in 2007 to work as a dog handler. With the support of his SSAFA mentor Andrew Hawkes he has now set up a successful dog training and grooming business with his partner Jenna.

  • Mark Stephenson

    Cpl Mark Stephenson

    Cpl Mark Stephenson, 37, a ground electrician based at RAF Wittering sustained a career-ending arm injury in July 2015 after falling and dislocating his elbow and shoulder. The married, father-of-one has been supported through a difficult time by Matt Rowe of SSAFA’s Personal Support & Social Work Service who provided practical and emotional support and also liaised with Mark’s line manager on his behalf.

  • Liam Houghton

    Liam Houghton

    Senior Aircraftman Liam Houghton, 31, sustained life-threatening injuries in a motorcycle accident in May 2014 and has been unable to work since. Liam, who previously worked in logistics at RAF Waddington, has undergone full spinal reconstructive surgery and has been left with short and long term memory problems. He has taken up archery to assist with his rehabilitation and competed successfully at the Air Force Trials in the US.

  • Catherine and Oliver

    Catherine and Oliver

    Catherine and Oliver*, who is a Vibration Analyst in the Navy, have a birth son, Sam, aged seven, and adopted a son, Harry, now 20-months-old, through the SSAFA adoption service in 2015.

  • Paul Moore

    Major Paul Moore, Branch Secretary for Durham Branch

    Paul Moore, 56, served 34 years in the Army, retiring as a Major in 2010. He was in 9 Parachute Squadron Royal Engineers attached to 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment during the Falklands conflict and was involved in the gruelling Battle for Mount Longdon, which saw the loss of 23 British troops. He is now a volunteer Branch Secretary with SSAFA’s Durham Branch.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 Hooper

    Janina Hooper, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 sustained life-changing brain, back and spinal injuries in Afghanistan. At a time in life when Rob needed his family most, they were separated by more than 200 miles. SSAFA made sure his family could be there for him during his recovery.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.