1 February 2016

Father awarded BEM for dedication to other military families

Roger Bacon has been awarded a BEM in the 2016 New Year Honours list for his tireless support for bereaved Armed Forces families following the death of his beloved son, Matthew.

In September 2005, Roger's son, Major Matthew Bacon, was the 95th member of the British Armed Forces to be killed during the Iraq War of 2003 to 2011 - a conflict that cost a total of 179 British lives. Aged just 34, Matthew lost his life when the Snatch Landrover he was travelling in was blown up by an IED.  In the months that followed losing Matthew, as they tried to come to terms with their grief, Roger and his wife Maureen became aware that there was a significant lack of support for bereaved family members within the military community. Despite his own devastating loss, Roger began working with SSAFA to set up the charity’s Bereaved Families Support Groups for families who have experienced similar losses. 

In his own words: "When a parent loses a child, their world changes forever, and when my wife and I were told the news of Matthew’s death, it was the most devastating, terrible time of our lives. In the months that followed our loss, we had this overwhelming need to meet with other bereaved parents like ourselves – but there was no platform for us to do this with other military families.

I took my concerns to the MoD, and was put in touch with SSAFA. Drawing from my own experience, I explained the need for parents and siblings to have the opportunity to meet with other grieving military families, in a place where they could be open with each other and express their feelings and fears, whatever the circumstances, whether combat or non-combat, surrounding their bereavement.

What I wanted to do, through SSAFA, was to facilitate regular meetings both nationally and regionally so that bereaved families would have a place to adjust to the ‘new normal’ of daily living. This led to the creation of SSAFA’s Bereaved Families Support Group, of which I was the first Chairman.”

Roger and SSAFA understand that due to the unique circumstances that surround military deaths, family members may grieve differently and therefore benefit from targeted peer support. This is why SSAFA’s support groups now include the ‘Bereaved Families Support Group’, the ‘Bereaved Siblings Support Group’ and the ‘Families of Wounded, Injured and Sick Service Personnel Support Group’ to facilitate peer support amongst those that understand these life changing events and their ongoing impact on service families for each family member’s specific support needs.

The bereaved families and siblings groups now have a membership of well over two hundred families and provide the much needed opportunity for bereaved families to meet each other, share stories of love and loss and offer mutual support in a safe and supportive environment.

Shavon Perkins, Family Support Groups Manager, SSAFA, comments: Roger’s BEM is greatly deserved. It is because of his selfless generosity and tireless commitment that the Bereaved Family Support Groups were established, and we are delighted that he has received recognition for this.”