HRH The Duchess of Gloucester and Veterans minister Kevan Jones launched the Families Activity Breaks (FAB) scheme today at the Ministry of Defence, together with sponsors, families and activity break volunteers. The FAB scheme aims to send 100 bereaved Armed Forces families on activity holidays across the UK this summer, in collaboration with the Youth Hostel Association of England and Wales.
FAB provides activity holidays for families with children aged up to 19 years old, who have suffered the loss of a loved one serving in the Armed Forces. They offer an adventure for all the family and a welcome break to meet and socialise with others who have experienced a similar loss.
Defence Minister Kevan Jones said:
“I spent a day with families at one of last year’s activity breaks and it was a very moving experience. The dignity with which the families coped with their losses, and the almost tangible atmosphere of mutual care and support was truly inspiring. Having experienced the enormous power of these breaks I am a very great supporter, and thank the Youth Hostel Association for their magnificent support.”
Lucy Aldridge, whose son Rifleman Will Aldridge died aged 18 in Afghanistan in 2009, was one of the first mothers to attend a FAB holiday last year. She said:
“I had an absolutely fantastic time with my children on a FAB holiday last year. My son had died only seven weeks before we went on the holiday, and for my younger children – aged only four and five at the time - those weeks had been a particularly traumatic and confusing time.
“Being able to go on holiday made all the difference. They benefited hugely from spending time with children of all ages who had suffered a similar loss, and we could spend time together as a family for the first time in weeks. It was an overwhelmingly positive experience I will never forget.”
FAB ran as a highly successful pilot in 2009. Over the summer 24 families took part at two locations, Coverack in Cornwall and Whitby in North Yorkshire. In 2010 FAB aims to send up to 100 families on these exciting breaks, this year with additional locations in Wales and Scotland.
The holidays for 2010 will take place over July and August, and the FAB team are urging Forces families to go online and apply for a place at www.mod.uk/fab
Notes to Editors
1. A film was shown at the launch of last years activities, and afterwards The Duchess of Gloucester met some of the families and volunteers who worked on the holidays in 2009.
2. This year 100 FAB holidays are available for bereaved Forces families. If a family has a child up to the age of 19 years and have suffered the loss of a loved one who served in the Armed Forces, then they may be eligible for a FAB holiday.
3. Crucially, FAB holidays are available for the whole family to attend with no extra qualifications, such as means testing, to decide if the family is eligible. They may have suffered from their loss recently, or several years ago.
4. The cost charged to each family is £50. This includes food, accommodation and all organised activities. Additionally, a bursary is available to help fund travel costs. The cost for families is kept to a minimum in order to avoid preventing any family from attending on financial grounds.
5. FAB was set up as an initiative in 2008 in collaboration with the Youth Hostel Association of England and Wales and supported by various Service charities and welfare groups.
6. The first holidays took place for 24 families in 2009 in Youth Hostel Association locations at Whitby in North Yorkshire and Coverack in Cornwall. This initial pilot was highly successful, and the aim for 2010 is to offer 100 families the opportunity of a break once again in Whitby and Coverack, and at the new locations of Conwy in North Wales and Cairngorm in Scotland.
7. FAB offers a variety of activities on the holidays through locally contracted service providers. These activities include top rope and abseiling, horse riding, coast steering, mountain biking, high wire, canoeing, team building tasks and games. Families are welcome to undertake all or any of the activities as they wish.
8. The holidays are staffed by volunteers made up Service personnel and Ministry of Defence civilians, who give up their free time throughout the summer. They are all trained by the Candle Project, a bereavement counselling service run by St Christopher’s Hospice, London, who specialise in supporting children and young adults facing bereavement. The Candle Project also provides staff to assist on the holidays.
9. The FAB scheme is part of a broader range of services and support available for bereaved families through the respective Forces family federations in collaboration with the MOD. For more information, visit:
The Naval Families Federation
The Army Families Federation
The Royal Air Force Families Federation
Phone: For enquiries please contact the above department