A SERVICE spouse is fronting a new campaign urging military families to contact the Officers’ Association (OA) after the charity supported him following the death of his wife in 2011.
Wayne Dye met Sharon in 1998 at the hospital where they both worked and were engaged within three months. Wayne, aged 49 and living in Aldershot, described Sharon as an “extremely enthusiastic and happy sort of person – it was full on or nothing – and very smart.”
Sharon was already a qualified NHS nurse when she decided to join QARANC (Queen Alexandra’s Royal Army Nursing Corps) in 1999 as a commissioned officer. She was an intensive care unit and theatre nurse, rising to the rank of captain. Her military career included several tours of Kosovo and a trip to Africa as part of an ongoing medical aid team to tackle malaria. After serving for nine years Sharon left the Army and went on to work in a GP practice.
He added: “We were two people that loved one another and got on with one another. It was just a joy to get up in the morning, and a joy to go to sleep at night.”
In 2011 Sharon unexpectedly died, after having a seizure, which caused her to fall from a fence at home onto a concrete patio, where she suffered a fatal head injury.
Wayne and their seven-year-old son found Sharon and, despite her being rushed to hospital, she never regained consciousness. Wayne described it as “the worst day of my life.”
Wayne was immediately faced with some major challenges. In addition to the grief, Wayne faced the stresses of suddenly being left as a lone parent and having a reduced household income. He was put in touch with the OA and felt from the start of his phone call to them that the charity wanted to assist him.
The OA initially helped Wayne with a contribution towards the funeral costs and has subsequently provided additional grants to help him with living expenses as well as advice and guidance when needed.
The charity’s grants are awarded to beneficiaries needing financial support, which can be one-off or a regular payment. Regular grants can go towards the general cost of living, as well as care support and one-off payments can cover costs including car repairs, funeral expenses and replacing white goods.
The OA’s impact on Wayne’s life has been significant, with the financial assistance provided giving him the space to adapt to his own situation.
Wayne said: “Life is much better through the help and support of the OA. Out of everything that they’ve done, the support that I’ve received has probably given me more confidence in myself and life in general, and the future. I think that shines through and I think my son has picked up on that, so we’ve grown closer.”
Lee Holloway, chief executive officer at the OA, said: “I am pleased that the OA could help Wayne and his son, and I am grateful that he has allowed us to share his personal experiences, to remind officers and their families that the OA is here to support them in challenging times.”
Watch a film featuring Wayne’s story at officersassociation.org.uk