Bomb blast soldier's son shows support for community covenant

Bomb blast soldier's son shows support for community covenant

20th September 2013


A TEENAGER whose guardsman father was blown up by a Taliban bomb has reminded the community of the importance of support on the home front.

Liam Gallacher, 13, of Catterick Garrison, was speaking at the launch of the first ever schools Community Covenant, with Risedale Sports and Community College, at Catterick, pledging its support to the Ministry of Defence.

The Government-backed covenant aims to encourage local communities to work and act together to support service personnel in their area and promote understanding and awareness of issues affecting members of the armed forces and their families.

Liam, whose father Stuart lost both legs in an IED explosion in Afghanistan in March this year, said: “All the teaching staff at Risedale were so good to me during what was a really difficult time.

“My dad lost one leg in the explosion and had one amputated below the knee. He was put in an induced coma, in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, and the school let me have lots of time off to go and see him and were always making sure that I was alright.

“He’s doing brilliantly well now and he even managed to come into school just before the summer holidays so he could personally thank all the staff and pupils who gave our family such fantastic support.”

At any one time 50 per cent of the pupils at Risedale Sports and Community College have one or both parents serving in the armed forces, which brings with it a host of unique issues for the school.

Associate head teacher at Risedale John Kelly said: “We are delighted to be the first school in the country to sign the community covenant which has come about through our special relationship with the military.

“Our pledge is to work with our pupils in order to ensure that they receive the best education and welfare given the difficult circumstances they sometimes face.

“This covenant not only helps to formalise and celebrate the union that Risedale has with the MOD but also endorses the measures that we already have in place to help our armed forces families.”

Working in partnership with the Army Welfare Service, Risedale has implemented a number of measures for pupils of army personnel including two service advocates who monitor carefully and respond to the needs of pupils.

The school promotes an E-Bluey system that allows students to maintain personal and private contact with parents who are serving on operations or exercise and they have also signed up to HMS Heroes – Together as One, a scheme which allows young people to keep in touch with friends and children in similar positions, sharing their experiences on-line.

Pupil Emily Dick, 13, whose father Captain Malcolm Dick has just returned from active service, said: “Our school is very aware that many of its pupils have parents that are out in Afghanistan and they do their best to make sure we are supported at all times.

“It’s hard enough been a teenager, being at school and doing homework but knowing that one of your parents is in a war zone can sometimes be overwhelming. 

“You need to find different ways of coping and the school has really helped me to open up and communicate my feelings which has really helped.”

Attending the launch was Brigadier Greville Bibby CBE with commanding officer of Catterick Garrison Colonel Stephen Padgett OBE.

“To my knowledge this is the first educational body in the country to sign the MOD Community Covenant,” he said.

“I have been involved with a number of local authorities and councils who have signed the covenant but Risedale is the first school which is brilliant.

“Obviously the Army already has very close links here but the establishment of this covenant is an excellent opportunity for us to strengthen that relationship even further.”

News in September