Nurturing under-fives is an important part of our Service communities. We look at a couple of local initiatives bringing younger children together…

“CHAPLAINCY values every member of the community,” said Sandhurst’s Defence Academy chaplaincy family worker Emily Young. “For me that includes lots of work with young children.” 

Running free events such as a twice-monthly messy church for families, Emily makes sure there are stories and activities which even the youngest can relate to. Matilda, who attends with her younger siblings, said: “What I like about messy church is that the activities are the best and all my friends are there.”

David Betts has a similar role to Emily in Aldershot Garrison. “I enjoy visiting the little ones and telling them simple stories – I get them involved through actions and songs. They often come up to me when I’m in the garrison and ask for their favourite story,” he said. 

Clocktower pre-school manager Nikki added: “The children love having ‘Mr Betts’ come in and tell stories. For some children, Fridays with Mr Betts is the highlight of their week. David is a great friend to our setting.”

Some of these contacts lead to parents coming along to chaplaincy-run parent and child sessions. Being that bridge to other networks of support is a key part of the role for Emily and David, who are employed by the Methodist Forces Board (MFB). Their activity supports the padres in their care of serving personnel and their families. The MFB is working with the padre to bring Messy Church to Weeton Barracks, near Blackpool.

Does faith play an important part in your community? If you have a story to share, let us know at

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