Celebrities Highlight Personal Sacrifices of Armed Forces

4 October 2018

Celebrity Missed Moments

Celebrities have come together to support our Armed Forces and to highlight the personal sacrifices they make following the release of a SSAFA-led survey which revealed that more than half (56%) of military personnel have missed once-in-a-lifetime moments such as the birth of a child, their child's first words or first steps*.

Speaking of her own experience of missing special family moments, Forces Sweetheart Dame Vera Lynn recalls: "During the war, I visited Burma for three months and didn’t see my family during that time. We were deep in the jungle, often without electricity or running water, let alone communication. Communication has improved a great deal in recent years but back then, we all got by with writing letters.

"It was difficult being apart from my family, but I knew that it was nothing compared with what our boys were going through. Many of them had gone much longer without seeing their families, so it was an honour to bring them a little piece of home while they were out there."

Former Army Personal Trainer and Double Olympic Champion Dame Kelly Holmes empathises with those interviewed in the survey: "When I was in the Army, I was away from home for two whole years in one posting. I missed my friends. We didn’t have mobiles back then so it was harder to keep in contact, other than by letter.

"As an athlete, I travelled around for three months during summer season, then away at training camps in winter for various amounts of time. I missed my own bed a lot - travelling and staying in hotels all the time isn’t as glamourous as it may seem."

World War One Historian Dan Snow has also had to miss out on family life occasionally: 

“The longest I’ve been away due to work commitments was one month while reconstructing a journey through the Yukon to the Goldfields. The thing I missed most was reading to my kids at night and having a big cuddle. I have regularly missed special occasions due to work commitments - my mum's 70th birthday was a recent one."

SSAFA Ambassador and Coronation Street actor Antony Cotton expresses sympathy for those in the Forces: "When I did 'I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!', I was in Australia for four weeks and I had no contact with anyone. I missed my family and my friends so much and I yearned for chats with them when I was in the jungle. I missed my other half terribly.

“That experience does make me think about how, every year, there are lads and lasses deployed away from home and away from their families, friends and loved ones.

“In all the years I’ve been involved with the Armed Forces, I’ve always had a friend deployed somewhere, and it is part of what life behind the wire encompasses.

“Thankfully, modern military life does mean that we can all keep in touch somehow, no matter where we all are in the world. However, there is nothing worse than those two words...Op Minimise.” (2)

Join our celebrities in helping SSAFA support our military personnel, veterans and their families, by visiting www.ssafa.org.uk/donate

*Survey carried out in September 2018 by Censuswide. Censuswide surveyed 1,348 of the British public as part of this survey. Censuswide surveyed 658 military personnel, families and partners, as part of this survey. Read more about the survey.

**Op Minimise means a stop of all communications due to a death of a serviceman or woman so the family can be informed first.