Girls on Film

WAGS Army - June

Step aside Calendar Girls the new kids are on the block.

WAGS Army is a group of 15 women from Northumberland  who have come up with a fun idea to raise money for the Royal British Legion and ABF The Soldier’s Charity.

“Vicky Field and I came up with the idea in March”

Says Charley Higham, Co -founder of WAGS Army, whose husband serves in 39 Regiment Royal Artillery.

“It was supposed to be a small calendar to help Vicky, a textiles student, with her portfolio for University.

“We have been putting it together since March, deciding on the concept, design, what we wanted it to look like.

“We thought we would make about 30 calendars for friends and family and raise some money.”

Vicky’s father also serves in 39 Regiment Royal Artillery.

The girls aim to raise between five and three hundred pounds for the charities by selling their calendars.

“They are two amazing charities, both of which our families have supported.”

Charley explained to Women at War.

“Major Ingram from the ABF has been amazing; he contacted a local printer who the charity deals with.

“We received the proof on Friday, and they have made an amazing job.

“Better than we expected!”

This is the first charity venture of this kind for the girls although they are not new to fundraising.

“Vicky and I have organised a full family fun day for Help for Heroes and earlier this year we ran the charity side of the 39 Regiment RA reunion where we raised money for the RBL & ABF.”

Charley is not sure whether she would do this again.

“We always say never again.

“I ran the Great North Run last year & that is definitely never again!….. But the calendar has been really good fun!

“We will have to see how this one sells.”

You can get your copy of the calendar by emailing

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The Great Poppy Party Weekend: Abingdon celebrates 90 years of the Royal British Legion

MP Nicola Blackwood, Lt Heather Harman, Council Chairman Patrick Greene and Ruth Powell

“The Royal British Legion is as relevant to our serving personnel today as it was 90 years ago”.

This was the overriding message at Oxford West and Abingdon’s Royal British Legion ‘Poppy Party’ last Friday at Abingdon Guildhall.


MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, Nicola Blackwood, hosted one of many Poppy Parties taking place around the country as a part of the British Legion’s Great Poppy Party Weekend, in order to toast 90 years of the Legion.

“The poppy appeal is not just about November; it is not just about remembrance,” explained Nicola. “It is also about a very real welfare which goes on year in year out requiring constant fundraising and constant support.

“The British Legion has been there for 90 years; it has this incredible inherent resource of knowledge and understanding. It doesn’t change between the governments, it doesn’t change with political philosophies or fashion and that is incredibly valuable, that stability and certainty.

“Abingdon, Oxfordshire, is a forces town; we have Dalton Barracks right next to us. We have many of forces families living here, many of our schools have forces children attending and many of our services are used by forces families.

“I wanted to raise a bit of awareness by giving the community the chance to show the local Regiment (12 Logistics and Support Regiment) how much we support them, as well as give the Regiment the opportunity to come in and meet some of the community members and to really get a feeling for that support which is there for them.”

Commander of a fuel and transport troop based at Dalton Barracks, Lieutenant Heather Harman, 27, was representing 12 Logistics and Support Regiment. She feels that events like Poppy Parties are a great way of making serving personnel more aware of the work that the Legion does.

“What they do for people with serious injuries is amazing, and for their families. That’s the biggy really, because families suffer more than we do. We go away for six months doing what we want to do, where as they sit at home and if something happens to us the Legion looks after them.”

Co-ordinator of the 90th Anniversary of the Royal British Legion, Ruth Powell, was speaking at the event. She says that it is important to remember that the Legion is not just the 11th of November.

“We are about every single day of the year. The British legion delivers welfare across the whole of the country and has been doing so since we were founded in 1921. We are here for the long haul and it is really important that serving personnel and the general public know that we are here and we intend to support them”.

See also:

Royal British Legion celebrates 90 years with “Poppy Parties” all over England

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Royal British Legion celebrates 90 years with “Poppy Parties” all over England

The Royal British Legion is celebrating 90 years of standing shoulder to shoulder with military personnel by throwing Poppy Parties; to celebrate nationwide, the work that they have done for serving personnel and their families over the years.

Women at War caught up the Ruth Powell Co-ordinator for the 90th Anniversary at the Oxford West and Abingdon Royal British Legion Poppy Party, hosted by MP Nicola Blackwood.

Ruth Powell with members of 12 Logistics Support RegimentMP Nicola Blackwood, Lt Heather Harman, Chairman of Abingdon County Council, Patrick Greene with Ruth Powell

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Dead Game: How writing helped Claire Kinton to deal with the death of her cousin, Lance Corporal Fletcher.

Claire Kinton

When her cousin died in a fatal head on collision the day before he was to return from R&R to Iraq, Claire Kinton did not know where to turn.

Pregnant with her first child she put her heart and soul into writing what became Dead Game.

An exciting novel that follows the fate of Corporal Archie Fletcher after his plane plummets in the Persian Gulf during the second Gulf war, Dead Game takes readers into a fantasy world of guardian angels and mythical saints.

“When my cousin was killed, I think like many, my faith was questioned to the highest degree.”

Lance Corporal Charles Fletcher, who had seen action in Bosnia and Northern Ireland, was serving in 3rd Battalion Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in Paderborn in Germany, when he died in 2003.

“Charles was like a brother to me.

“Part of me refused to accept he was gone so I went on my own mission to find him.

“I found myself in a local awareness group and spent the next six years practising mediumship.”

Dealing with loss of her cousin Charles and living on an RAF base, where she saw for herself the feelings of grief suffered by those who lost loved ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, Claire felt compelled to write a novel that examines life after death.

“Witnessing at first hand the heartbreak of loss that conjures a multitude of emotions, particularly in children and young adults, spurred me on to complete Dead Game.

“For some young minds it is not enough to say ‘He’s gone to Heaven’, they need to know why, what happens next, how long will they be gone?

“Dead Game is my way of answering these poignant questions.”

She explained to Women at War.

Writing a book and starting a family, however, presented its challenges and long days followed by nights spent working on the book became the norm.

“Reality just happened around me whilst I immersed myself in words.

“Dead Game book was very much a necessity for me, my escape from baby blues, my Prozac if you like.

“It is tough having three small children, the disturbed nights and early mornings causing extreme exhaustion.

“I’m not sure how I did it to be honest; it’s a bit of a blur.”

However, her hard work paid off and Dead Game received a nomination for the Brit Writers Awards Unpublished 2010, an initiative that encourages unpublished writers and poets to showcase their work.

The book itself was launched in October last year in Nottingham at the New Writers UK Festival where it sold out.

However, Claire does not feel that she is the only one who can take the credit.

“Today my faith that our spirits live on is stronger than ever and I truly believe that my cousin Charles aided me in writing Dead Game.”

Success has spurred Claire on to write a second novel, The Waiting Game, in which Archie Fletcher will also play a lead role.

She hopes that through writing she may be able to return the support given to her family after the death of Charles by the Soldiers, Sailors Airman and Families Association (SSAFA) and the Army Benevolent Fund.

She feels that it was important to donate a portion of Dead Game to SSAFA and Help for Heroes.

“I may not condone or understand war but I sure as hell will support every single one of our troops who fight for us.

“They are all, no matter what their role, individually, brave, honourable patriots of our country and our freedom.”

Find out more about Dead Game at

Follow Claire’s  Blog

Dead Game Book




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DecAid: Remembering ten years in Afghanistan

In August this year four volunteers will scale all 283 of the Munro mountains in Scotland in an attempt to raise money for charities supporting British Troops.

The team, all members of DecAid, an appeal launched by a dynamic group of young people, many of whom are from the Officer Training Corps at Exeter University, will aim to complete the challenge in 50 days.

Each summit will be dedicated to service personnel who have made the final sacrifice as a result of the Afghan war.

Founder, Tom O’Connell, told Women at War that the hardest thing about the mission would be going for 7 weeks without a break.

“Keeping going for that long isn’t something that the body is used to.

“It will be as hard mentally as it is physically and in a way preparing yourself mentally is a lot harder than preparing physically.”

“It doesn’t matter if you are fit enough to finish the challenge if your mind doesn’t want to carry on!”

They will cover the 1600 mile route using kayaks and bikes but most of it will be done on foot.

So far the DecAid team have raised over £6,000 and have received accolades from the Prime Minister, and HRH the Duchess of Cornwall has agreed to be their Royal Patron.

A good start for an appeal which aims to raise £350,000 through a range of events, for SSAFA Forces Help, BLESMA and Talking2Minds in the tenth anniversary year of British Forces in Afghanistan.

“We were keen not to start our own charity but to support the work of these three charities who we believe address many of the effects of the conflict on British service personnel and their families.”

Says co-founder, Rupert Laing.

Consisting of over 50 volunteers up and down the country, many of whom have serving friends due to go out to Afghanistan or come from service families, DecAid have organised a wide range of events.

As well as the Munro mission, events include 2011 pipers and drummers making their way down the Royal Mile in Edinburgh on Armed Forces Day and a memorial service at Salisbury Cathedral in December, during which a candle will be lit for every soldier killed.

What makes this appeal different is the fact that all the volunteers are under the age of 25.

“We recognise that over half of the British Service men and women to have lost their lives in Afghanistan over the past decade have been aged between 18 and 25.

“We believe it is appropriate for our age group to show our support.”

Explains Rupert.

Many of the volunteers are still studying.

“This means that we must be constantly aware of the fact that all of the team members have a number of priorities to fit their work around.”

However, the team is enthusiastic and training for the Munro Mission has already begun.

There is no doubt that the DecAid team have a big challenge ahead of them this year, yet, with such a strong line-up of events they are well on their way to meeting their target.

Find out more go to the  DecAid website

To remember a loved one go to the DecAid Remembrance wall

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Caroline Wyatt on women on the frontline

Journalist, Caroline Wyatt talks to Women at War about women on the frontline.

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Shoulder to shoulder with all who serve: 90 years of The Royal British Legion.

This year The Royal British Legion will celebrate its 90th anniversary.

The 11th day of the 11th month of the 11th year will commemorate 90 years of the Poppy Appeal and Remembrance.

What could be a greater gesture than to invest £50 million in to to the rehabilitation of injured service personnel?

Over the next ten years the Legion will fund the operating costs for the Personnel Recovery Centres (PRCs) and the creation and operation of the Royal British Legion Battle Back Centre, RBL BBC.

Women at war has been speaking to Ruth Powell, who is responsible for co-ordinating the 90th Anniversary.

“The Battle Back Centre will provide activity based rehabilitation to help wounded, injured and sick personnel regain their fitness and return to duty, or reskill  in order to get back to civilian life”.

The centre is integral to the Armed Forces Personnel Recovery Programme.

As a part of the programme, injured personnel undertake a programme of physical and mental rehabilitation and take part in challenging sporting and outdoor activities to aid their recovery.

As Ruth says:

“Putting the ‘phys’ back into rehab!

“The challenge of sport is an absolute driver to recovery”.

She feels that an important part of the British Legion’s 90th anniversary message is to present the fresh contemporary image of one of the country’s founding welfare charities.

The RBL was started after the Great War when those in power became concerned about the vast numbers of men returning home after a traumatic war with no jobs, pensions or welfare support in place for them.

When they think of the work the legion does today, some imagine old men in clubs and veterans in uniform standing on the street selling poppies.

However, Ruth is keen to explain:

“The charity is just as relevant to the service personnel of today as we are to veterans of previous conflicts.

“In our 90th year, the legion’s work is crucial to helping the

“Afghan generation” of the Armed Forces family”.

Since 2003 they have helped 16,000 service personnel who have needed welfare support as a result of the Afghan and Iraq wars.

“It’s extraordinary how few people know that we spend more than £200,000 a day; that’s £1.4 million a week delivering welfare”. Says Ruth.

“A friend of mine asked her serving sister what the legion meant to her and she said ‘poppies and Granny’.

“I want to challenge this view because we are so much more than that.

“I want to present the public with the polar opposite as well.”

Part of Ruth’s strategy is to complement the legion’s current good work with a new team of ‘champions’.

Over the next year most military sports teams will be wearing the 90th anniversary logo in matches and fixtures up and down the country.

“I want to challenge the perceptions of people -when they see young fit personnel in service sport proudly supporting the British Legion“.

These people are the crème de la crème of the services, they epitomise strength, leadership and endurance which is what the British Legion is represents”.

We are not just about November, we deliver welfare 365 days a year and need to be visible all year round”.

The Royal British Legion is keen to gain the support of young service personnel, because as Ruth passionately puts it:

“We’re shoulder to shoulder with all who serve…. for the next 90 years and beyond”.

Join with Ruth now- email her at

All images care of The Royal British Legion.

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