Christmas to come early for military children

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A thousand teddies are to be given to military children whose parents are going through deployment this Christmas.

Registered charity, Little Troopers, supports children who have one or both parents serving in the British Armed Forces. They ensure families have access to child-focused support wherever they are in the world.

This year they have partnered with the Build-a-Bear Foundation to distribute 1,000 free teddy bears to military families, as well as a virtual pantomime of Cinderella that children can stream live for free on Sunday 20 December, as part of their Christmas Smiles Campaign.

The campaign supports children who will be separated from their serving parent on Christmas Day due to overseas employment or other military commitments.

Traditionally, Little Troopers have organised events such as a daytrip to Lapland UK or tickets to a local pantomime, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic they have been cancelled.

Louise Fetigan, founder of Little Troopers, told JMU Journalism: “This year has been particularly hard for lots of military families. For those with parents deployed it has been even more challenging than usual as they haven’t been able to rely on their usual support networks at home, especially during the first lockdown. Lots of deployments were also extended because of Covid.

“The idea behind the bears is that when these children feel like they are missing their mums or dads they can hug their special bear and feel closer to them. It’s a small way to bring military families together during a time when they are forced to be apart.”

Eight hundred of the bears have already gone to welfare teams at RNAS Yeovilton, RAF Brize Norton, Catterick Garrison and Kendrew Barrack.

The remaining 200 bears will be given out via ‘Little Troopers’ social media pages in December, with applications opening tomorrow (Wednesday November 25).

“We hope the bears and the virtual pantomime will bring smiles to the faces of lots of military children this Christmas and help them realise that they are part of a very special community of young people,” said Fetigan.

Any British Armed Forces family with a serving personal deployed on Christmas Day will be able to apply for a bear with those successful receiving their bear in the post.



About Lauren Hughes, JMU Journalism