Scotty’s Little Soldiers Nikki with the Palin family at new lodge

Friday 31st March 2023

Scotty’s Little Soldiers, the charity for bereaved military children and young people, officially opened their seventh Scotty lodge for bereaved Forces families on Wednesday 29th March.

As well as offering a range of support to children and young people, aged 0 – 25, who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces, Scotty’s Little Soldiers provides respite breaks to give bereaved military families a chance to get away from their daily routines and make new happy memories together. Because the break is organised by Scotty’s, families naturally have conversations about their loved one who has died. It’s an opportunity to talk in a safe environment away from home.

The new lodge, based at Devon Cliffs Haven, was unveiled in an opening ceremony attended by Scotty’s founder, Nikki Scott, the Palin family, who are supported by the charity, and representatives from Forces Support, who have generously funded the entire costs associated with the new lodge. The ceremony involved the cutting of a ribbon and a celebration with cake, balloons and a special visit from Haven’s mascots.

The Palin family, from Plymouth, have been supported by Scotty’s since 2013. Cpl Mark Palin was killed in action in Afghanistan in 2011, aged 33. He left behind his wife Carla and son Lennon, who was just one at the time. Their daughter, Ruby, was born a few months after his death. The Palins have benefited from a range of support from Scotty’s, including breaks away.

Palin family outside Scotty's new Devon lodgePalin family outside Scotty’s new Devon lodge

Lennon, who is now 13 years old, said: “To me, Scotty breaks mean having fun and enjoying yourself. Rather than being sat at home on the Xbox, we get to go out, do stuff and have a good time as a family.”

11-year-old Ruby said: “Scotty’s is really special. It’s got a special place in my heart. You know if there are other people here from Scotty’s, you can relate to them.”

Their mum Carla added: “The new lodge is amazing. You get to have some time away from life and school and work and just come away and be a family and make great memories together. That’s really important to me because Lennon and Ruby weren’t able to make any memories with their dad.”

Forces Support is a UK bereavement and veterans’ charity who have shown their dedication to Forces families by providing Scotty’s Little Soldiers with funding to cover the costs of the new lodge. They previously funded all Scotty’s respite breaks for the whole of 2021 and have continued their support by funding breaks for 100 bereaved military families each year from 2022 to 2024.

Nikki with Ruby, Lennon and Haven's mascotNikki with Ruby, Lennon and Haven’s mascot

Carol Reynolds, CEO of Forces Support, said, “Forces Support are delighted to have been able to fully fund the purchase of a new lodge, based at Devon Cliffs Holiday Park, on behalf of Scotty’s Little Soldiers. We hope that all the families who visit enjoy their stay and benefit from the chance to spend some quality time together making new happy memories.”

Scotty’s founder, Nikki, set up Scotty’s Little Soldiers in 2010 following the death of her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, in Afghanistan. The first thing she wanted to do was to give bereaved military children the opportunity to go on a respite break. This idea occurred to her on a family holiday nine months after her husband’s death, when she saw her son, Kai – who was 5 at the time – playing in the swimming pool and smile for the first time since his dad had died. Nikki wanted to give other bereaved Forces children the same opportunity to smile.

Nikki said: “As soon as I saw the positive impact a holiday had on my family, I wanted to provide breaks for other bereaved Forces families. Including our new lodge at Devon Cliffs, Scotty’s now has seven holiday homes, which means more bereaved military families can have that much-needed break, spend some quality time together, have those really important conversations about their loved one and remember that it’s okay to smile. That’s what it’s all about.

Nikki continued: “We are so grateful to Forces Support for their incredible generosity which enables us to make a difference to the lives of children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces.”

Scotty’s respite breaks take place all over the UK, with six more lodges located around UK Haven sites, including one other at Devon Cliffs, just a short walk from the brand-new lodge. Due to the number of families the charity supports, Scotty’s also provides breaks at Butlins, Alton Towers and Center Parcs.

So far this year, Scotty’s has supported over 600 bereaved CYP, and the charity has a long-term goal of supporting 1000 bereaved military children and young people annually by 2030.

Scotty’s Little Soldiers provides relief from the effects of bereavement to children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent who served in the British Armed Forces. Services offered to Scotty’s members include access to child bereavement support, guidance to parents and carers, personal education and learning assistance (including grants), and fun activities such as holiday respite breaks and group events. These are all designed to remind the children and young people supported by Scotty’s that they are not alone.

Top image: Nikki with the Palin family at new lodge

Soctty's Little Soldiers logo


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