AFF’s overseas team regularly supports unit moves between the UK and Cyprus. This summer’s rotation will see 1 RIFLES move to Dhekelia to take over the role of Regional Standby Battalion.

This move is quite unusual as Chepstow has been the home for many 1 RIFLES families since 2007. They’ve enjoyed a long period of stability, meaning a relatively high proportion of families live in their own homes, non-serving spouses and partners have jobs and children are settled in local schools. Facing a period of change has inevitably led to some angst and families weighing up the pros and cons of moving for just a couple of years, also knowing that the unit will unusually return to the same location in the summer of 2025.

AFF has been following the journey of a few 1 RIFLES families for almost a year. Support started back in October when Esther Thomas, our Overseas Manager and Claire Hallam, Money & Allowances Specialist, gave a virtual presentation. This highlighted areas to consider and encouraged families to start the supportability process early to ensure they had the best experience when overseas.


We caught up with some families a few months ago to hear how they were feeling about the move. We found that many felt overwhelmed with the level of paperwork and one family told us: “We had conflicting advice from different agencies, even removals teams have said different things about boxing up and allowances. It has been hard to keep up at times.”

Others were more optimistic about the move ahead. “We are looking forward to it as it’s going to be an experience for the kids,” said one mum. “One of my daughters has already started using Postit notes to decide what is going and what is being put in storage!”


Jessica and Shawn Gamble [pictured] were happy to find a balance with their move: “The downside is the distance and the longer separation from grandparents and other close family members, but the advantages are the outstanding education that is available. It’s an amazing chance to further their education with small class sizes. As a family we’re keen to take advantage of water sports, a different lifestyle and the culture of Cyprus.” For some families, leaving behind the remoteness of Beachley is a plus: “There is nothing close by for us, we are so isolated here. I cannot wait for the sunshine and activities that Cyprus has to offer – the kids are going to have so many opportunities out there.”


Unit Welfare Officer Capt Dave Dimmock told us that getting all the information for the move has been difficult: “The unit has been constantly busy with exercises in Kenya, helping with the Ukraine effort and people away on courses. Trying to arrange a recce early on had proven difficult due to spouses’ work commitments, childcare issues or the serving person being away.”

Nonetheless, in April a small group were able to visit Dhekelia and reported back to others on what family life was going to be like on the island. One of the party, Jon Quinn, said: “Managing the single parent role previously whilst my wife was on a six-month UN tour was one of the major factors. We have decided to go as a family unit with our young son this time. Partner recces are a must! Two of the party were sceptical of the move but by the end of day two they had fully come around to the idea.”


Whilst there are a number of families who have decided not to accompany their serving partner overseas for various reasons, welfare resources will continue to support them and help them stay connected. The number of welfare houses in Dhekelia will increase significantly which will be a great option for those married unaccompanied.


If you have any concerns or questions regarding an upcoming overseas posting contact us at

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