Melissa May at Somerset Legion House with her daughters Mai and Tayla

A welcome break from a state of constant readiness

The Royal British Legion helps Troop Sergeant Melissa May and her daughters to balance family life with her career in the Army, giving them a family holiday to remember.

Getting home to see the kids can be difficult for any working parent, even more so when you’re a Troop Sergeant in the British Army. Melissa doesn’t have much time to spend with her daughters but luckily we were there to provide them holiday, giving them some well-deserved family time.

MELISSA’S STORY

Melissa joined the Army in 2004 and has seen action in Iraq, so she’s well prepared to look after her three daughters, who bubble with mischievous energy.

But it’s hard to balance a full-time job and family life, particularly when your unit is in a state of constant readiness.

“It is fantastic. The girls have a fab time. Most of my money goes on nursery fees, so we never have enough money to take the girls away really.”

Melissa has to be ready to move, for example on deployment overseas, within three hours. So she can’t be more than three hours travel from her base.

It takes a year’s worth of training to be prepared for this, and means that Melissa’s family life could be disrupted in only a couple of hours. So the chance to get away with her daughters is one that she welcomes.

A WELCOME BREAK

Melissa had no idea that we provided holidays for those serving, only finding out when a friend mentioned it.

The Legion offers holidays to those that need it most, whether it’s because they haven’t had a holiday in years, have been struggling with a recent bereavement, or are juggling family and Armed Forces commitments.

With four permanent locations around the UK where members of the Armed Forces community take a break, we provide a relaxing environment where can everything’s taken care of.

Tayla flies a kite watched by her mother and sister

Melissa and Mai watch as Tayla braves the weather to fly a kite on the beach.

As all the other guests are part of the military community, it means that everyone’s in the same boat and they can talk with people who know the same issues and are in similar circumstances.

It can be difficult for children to get used to the idea that their mother may need to leave at a moment's notice, so the holiday is a chance for them to get away from Army life for a week and to de-stress.

“I wanted to have a holiday as I haven’t got much time with the girls. I get home at six, and by the time I’ve made them tea it’s time to put them to bed."

Last year she went on a holiday in Yorkshire where she went dancing every night with the girls. This year they’re staying at Somerset Legion House in Weston-super-Mare.

The weather has been unpredictable, but that hasn’t stopped them having a great time.

With activities like clay painting and fancy dress there’s plenty to keep them busy. From the moment they arrive the families are free to get on and focus on having fun. Everything is planned out, from the ice creams at the shop across the road to a different entertainer every night.

“We enjoyed the beach and the day trips out and about. We went to a farm and a theme park and the kids absolutely loved it.”

If this is all too hectic, then there’s the option to take things at your own speed and relax in the library or take a walk along the beach.

Mai in fancy dress at Somerset Legion House

Mai models a sparkly hat whilst trying out different fancy dress outfits.

Find out about the support the Legion provides

From breaks for service families to activity courses for children, The Royal British Legion is here to help you and your family get away from the stresses of everyday life.

Related Stories