Members of HMS Heroes are ambassadors and young advocates for Service families. Most importantly, they are friends for each other, especially in times of need.
HMS Heroes started in Devon when the Education Department at Plymouth City Council decided to support the children of Service personnel more. A group was set up and a representative from each school (primary up to secondary) meet monthly to discuss their concerns and the way forward.
Plymouth City Council Officer Heather Ogburn provides support to Service children and helped kick-start the group. She sat down with a group of Service children and young people to see what they needed and saw an opportunity to create a network, particularly so that Service children had friends if they moved schools.
"The key messages that came through were that they knew they had different challenges in their lives to some of their friends, such as having to move home and change schools, as well as often having a parent away, but at the same time, they didn't want to be seen to be different.
"They didn't want people to put a big label on them, but they wanted to help coping with some of the issues, especially as a lot of their friends didn't understand what they were going through during times of deployment," she said.
As well as providing an invaluable support network, the groups also actively fundraise in support of The Royal British Legion and last year they raised £2,000 from their efforts at biscuit-making, cake sales and wearing odd shoes at school.
For more information, visit their website at www.hmsheroes.co.uk.
You can also get helpful information and support from Hazel Thomson Service Pupils’ Champion for the Swaledale Alliance.