We stepped in to support the Reid family; then they supported us in return.
Stewart grew up with the military being a big part of his life, living in Gibraltar and Germany while his father was in the Army. Joining up at 16 seemed quite a natural thing for Stewart to do but after seven years in the Royal and Electrical Mechanical Engineers (REME), he began to feel homesick.
Stewart was fortunate to find employment straight away which made the transition to civilian life easier on many fronts. When speaking of the adjustment to life outside the Army, Stewart said: “I would say that I found civilian life different, rather than difficult. I am quite adaptable and the Army was good in helping me with my resettlement and transition period.”
He also found happiness in his personal life. After being introduced by friends, Stewart married now wife Stephané and their family includes Kayleigh and the couple’s eight-year-old daughter, Maisie.
Stephané stopped work to be a full-time mum and carer for Maisie who has quadriplegic cerebral palsy and it was in that role that Stephané began to struggle. Lifting Maisie in and out of the bath was causing considerable back pain and the couple realised that as Maisie grew older the issue would only increase. The solution? An extension to give Maisie her own bathroom and bedroom, designed to give the family the space and accessibility they need to provide the level of care she requires.
The local authority agreed to pay part of the costs, but this left a difficult to cover shortfall. Family members encouraged the couple to reach out to organisations specifically set up to assist military and former military families. Poppyscotland was one of the charities that stepped in to help.
“We didn’t like to ask for help and we also thought we wouldn’t be eligible. We thought help was only available to people who had been in the military for a long time or who had left more recently. We are glad we did make that call as it has made such a difference.” - Stephané
The grant awarded by Poppyscotland was the largest single grant the charity has ever made, and the family’s situation was one that the charity felt merited its fullest support.
The support they received changed the family’s life as Stephané explains: “It has made our lives much easier and we can spend time with Maisie, enjoying life with her. There was space for a specialist bed so that Maisie could have a good night’s sleep. In turn, we can sleep well, too, which helps us manage better during the day.”
In 2016, Stewart ran the London Marathon for us, raising more than £2,000. He said:
“I wanted to give something back to Poppyscotland for the help it gave us. It was enjoyable until the 20- mile mark and the last six miles were tough. Knowing why I was doing it and what it was for kept me going. Stephané and our family and friends held a fundraiser in the house with different activities going on and that kept me going, too.”
The couple has a message for those who need support. Stewart said: “We didn’t like asking for support and it’s hard when you don’t know who to speak to. Our caseworker was fantastic and made all the arrangements and did all of the liaison with other organisations, which was a weight off our minds."