My name is Lynn O’Brien, I am a Regional Co-ordinator in Scotland. Several years ago, when my son joined the army, social networking was not what it is now and I went on line searching for information and people to speak to as I knew being an army mum was going to change my life, little did I know that not only did my son’s career choice change my life but finding Support Our Soldiers was not only going to be my saviour but my involvement was going to change my life too!
Everyone on the forum was very supportive; there are a lot of people on there with a military background who can answer all your questions. The more I spoke to people the more interested in the charity I became and so, when I realised there were no co-ordinators in the Falkirk/Stirling area I volunteered to help, I started with a small number of boxes being sent out every month, progressed to 50 per month but the response is so amazing I now send 100 (500 at Christmas)
There are not as many co coordinators in Scotland as in the rest of the UK but we manage to cover most of the country with our contacts but there is room for a few more as I cover a massive area – most of the country in fact! But through my extensive support at my full time paid job and friends/military contacts I have, we manage no problem.
My daughter, Stephanie Dempsey, is my assistant co-ordinator and we work well together going to events all over the country with my other volunteers raising awareness and selling merchandise. We try to attend as many Armed Forces days as possible but, as most are on the same day, it is impossible to attend all the ones we would like to. Every year we attend mostly the same events such as Truckfest, The Scottish Motorcycle events, Highland Games and there are quite a few smaller events we like to attend – we even go over to Rothesay!
Monthly boxes vary; a typical year sees January with Burns boxes then February a normal top up of toiletries, goodies to eat and a puzzle or reading book. March boxes are for Easter and I involve schools, clubs and individuals in making up boxes, making handmade cards of support or donating items to be included in boxes all with an Easter theme. I also have knitters who make up chicks with soldier helmets on and these have a cream egg placed inside. The April and May boxes normally have items donated from the public with sweeties, toiletries and something unusual or a game to keep them amused when off duty. The June box is what we call the pool party box which has fruity sweeties, Capri sun – complete with a straw with an umbrella on it! Grass skirts and laiya, toddler paddling pools or inflatables. July and August revert back to sending items donated by the public then September sees the Halloween box going out with face masks, decorations and Halloween sweeties in a goodie bag! October again reverts to items from my ‘soldiers room’ then November sees my 500 Christmas boxes being sent.
It is a busy year all round with booking events, replying to enquiries and uplifting/speaking to groups and individuals but the feedback from our brave lads and lassies make it all worthwhile.