The Army Widows’ Association (AWA) was formed in 2004 for army widows, widowers, recognised partners and their family members, to provide comfort, support, hope and a special understanding.
Staff provide a much needed support network produce newsletters and host events. They have a wealth of experience and knowledge and can signpost to further help for things like counselling funding or financial queries. There’s also a private Facebook group.
Raqual Harper-Titchener lost her husband Matt in Iraq in 2003 and found herself alone, with her two-year-old son and 20 weeks’ pregnant with her daughter.
She says: “Although I had wonderful support from family and friends, no-one really gets it unless they have walked that path.
“The AWA was formed just at the right time for me and, 16 years later, I’m extremely grateful to be the Chair and able to ‘give back’, as I received so much support during my early bereavement journey and continue to do so.
“We get a lot through attending events and in recent circumstances, these have continued virtually. Many members have found comfort and hope, but mostly we have that special understanding of what it’s like to be an army widow.
“Together we feel safe. It’s good to chat, it’s great to laugh and it’s okay to shed a tear!
“None of us wanted to be members of an association where the joining criteria relied on bereavement, but we are where we are and, through friendship and support, we are determined to have a positive future!”
Rachel Prosser joined the AWA in 2012 when she lost her partner in Afghanistan.
“At first I ‘lurked’ in the Facebook group, drawing comfort from just knowing there were people out there that had the same problems as me.
“The online chatter was frank, full of sound advice, warm and often funny,” says Rachel.
“At a time when laughter can be filled with so much guilt it was good to be able to share a joke.
“After a year, I plucked up the courage to attend an event and finally had people around me that I could talk openly with.
“As time has gone on, I’ve been able to help other members by sharing my experiences. I’ve represented the AWA on the MOD’s casualty visitor officer training; by talking about the death of my partner I hope that army personnel might be better prepared for supporting bereaved families.
“Our events are the mainstay of the organisation, coming together and watching people grow through their grief is empowering. We’re there for each other in the dark times as well as the good.”
To find out more, go to armywidows.org.uk
Financial support for families
The Army Dependants’ Trust provides discretionary cash grants to dependants/next of kin of soldiers who die in service, from whatever cause, to relieve immediate financial hardship to the member’s family.
If the serving partner was a member, the family could receive up to £15,000. This is free from tax and available immediately to help with any short-term debt or ongoing expenses or with additional funeral costs. The trust is automatically notified of a member’s death and takes all the necessary action.
The serving person can sign up via their Unit Admin Office and pay £8.75 per year, which is deducted automatically from their January pay.
For more details, call 01980 615734.