Bravery is Being the Only One Who Knows You Are Afraid

Being a soldier’s mum is many things for me … I have two sons both serving in the Army as Ammunition Technician Officers (Bomb Disposal).

All mothers miss their sons when they join to serve in the Armed Forces and deep down, each mother does battle with her own fears. “Perhaps, despite the worries, my sons were right. This was an adventure, a new road they would take and I should be (and am) very proud of them”.

I have quietly carried so many emotions through my boys' deployments to Bosnia, Kosova, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan.  During their deployments I was what could be construed as a nervous wreck and found myself becoming totally irrational - flicking from one news channel to another -  living in sheer terror of the knock on the door.

I have always considered myself a very strong person.  However, the phone calls I received just as they boarded the plane to Afghanistan, brought me to my knees. I was not prepared for the huge emotional impact their deployment was about to have on me.

I was overwhelmed with emotion the day I was told my boys were off to yet another war zone (as one returned from his 6 month tour - the other deployed for 6 months). So proud of the men they had become; so afraid of losing them.   The endless torture … but I had no idea what their job involved - “if we told you Mum, you would only worry” in their words.  Nothing could prepare me for the gruelling months ahead, the long days and lonely nights. 

A privilege - the sense of pride and honour; my heart - taking the chance to be crushed; my fears – the unknown that haunted me in my sleep; my soul that saddened every time I heard of casualties; the air that I couldn’t sometimes breath - praying it wasn’t me who got the knock on my door; my heartache for the other mothers.  Nothing ever really prepares you for the roller-coaster ride of being a soldier’s mum.

It was so hard hugging my boys goodbye, not knowing if they would ever hug me again. No more daily hellos over the phone, just sleepless nights, wondering if they were okay and if they would ever return.  Those long 12 months overtook my life.

Thankfully both my boys came home safe … some were not so lucky. 

My youngest son, Kim, was awarded the GC for his heroic acts of gallantry whilst serving in Afghanistan and I now know the full details of his unequivocal actions in saving lives and attending the fallen.  I still cannot fully comprehend the bravery and selflessness of his actions.

A Pride of Britain Special Recognition award for his outstanding bravery is yet another indication of his unswerving devotion to duty and having seen him presented with this on TV, my emotions are once again running very high.

When I bear in mind this is my son, who was ridiculed at school for not being able to read or write, I am so immensely proud of the man he has become.  He has done me proud.

I must be the luckiest mother alive to have two such wonderful sons – they are my heroes.

For all our Soldiers … You are our heroes.  For those who didn’t make it home – RIP.

Lord Ashcroft has just published a book “George Cross Heroes” within which Kim’s citation has been written.

Also, a 4 part documentary series on Discovery, commencing 18 November, the first re-enacting Kim’s involvement in the gruelling discovery and dismantling of countless IEDDs in order to remove the fallen and wounded and to save the lives of his comrades.