The Rushton Family

Amy, Evan and Lucas Rushton attended the SSAFA Short Break programme for service families affected by disability - and were thrilled by the "liberating" nature of the camp, and other families.

The Rushton Family

Amy, Evan and Lucas Rushton attended the SSAFA Short Break programme for service families affected by disability - and were thrilled by the "liberating" nature of the camp, and other families.

After a ‘rubbish year’, the Rushton family took part in SSAFA’s Short Breaks programme, for families with a disability. The scheme is a unique opportunity for military families with additional needs to spend time together, and other people like them – creating memories, without judgement.

Ex-Royal Marines Bugler Amy Rushton and her two sons Evan and Lucas took part in SSAFA’s Short Breaks in October. Evan, 11, has Aspergers Syndrome and severe ADHD and attends a special school. Lucas, 7, has High Functioning Autism.

The family found out about Short Breaks by email. Amy applied straight away and was excited when she was told the family had a place.

“I think SSAFA could see it would be nice for us to have a break. We’ve had a rubbish year, so it’s been nice to get away.”

Amy and the boys took part in a full programme of activities including canoeing, bike riding, horse riding and abseiling, with specialised instructors and equipment to support their needs.

Amy says it is different to anything they have done together: “We try and do lots with the kids. The difference with this place is things have challenged them and taken them out of their comfort zone in a good way. I was surprised, they said they weren’t going to do some of the activities and they really went for it, they did things they didn’t think they would be comfortable doing and they loved it. It’s been amazing seeing them trying their best.”

“I don’t think we could have done this in a normal activity week because his responses to things would not be accepted.

“It’s so nice to know that if your child behaves in a certain way or does certain things, that no one is looking at you or going to be judging you, because if it is your child now, it is going to be their child next. It is really liberating to be in an environment where no one cares about things like that.”

The family know that this programme would not be possible without the key organisations that support it, like the Annington Trust, and SSAFA's charitable partners.

“Without that funding things like this don’t happen. I hope they see what a difference the money they give makes.

“My children’s lives normally can be really, really tough. One goes to special school and he feels different to everyone, but when we are here, he is part of a community, he’s valuable, he’s needed, and he starts to see his worth.

“Thank you very much it’s been a great experience for everyone.”

Amy left the military when she was injured in 2001 and has a war pension. Her husband, John, a Sergeant in the Royal Marines Band Service has Multiple Sclerosis. SSAFA have been there for the family during difficult times.

“Our local branch in Havant helped were there when John was diagnosed with MS, I have osteoarthritis and have to have major surgery so I will be off my feet for a long time. They have been there to see how they can help us during that time.

“They have been so helpful, it’s so nice to have someone there who cares”