Forces Live Events (CSE) are proud to have been heavily involved in the first Gosport District Service Families Picnic, an event which celebrated and brought service families together, recognising how isolating it can be when a parent is deployed and raising awareness that schools are there to assist service families.
The children were treated to experiences like meeting The Gruffalo, learning circus skills and Marz v Murz, a Bruno Mars and Ollie Murs tribute act who performed the greatest hits.
Mollie Flannigan, service child said:
"Coming to things like this is good because you meet new people and you can tell each other what it’s like having parents that go away…you can forget about your sadness and just have fun".
In order to support the high proportion of service children in Gosport, local primary schools run Heroes Clubs, to give children a place to talk about their issues as part of a forces family.
Forces children often endure long periods of separation from their deployed parent, face disruption and will move schools many times during their academic lifetime. They sometimes struggle to start again and make new friends.
The Heroes Clubs offers them the chance to meet with other children who are going through the same experiences.
Elise Gower, Armed Forces Link Worker, based at Alverstoke C of E School, organises an annual picnic where children play games and parents can get together and chat in an informal environment.
In previous years this has been a modest affair for a couple of schools with approximately 40 attendees. This year they decided to open the initiative to include more of the schools in Gosport.
They reached out to HMS Sultan for assistance and Lieutenant Richardson, pictured above with his daughter, in turn, contacted CSE. When he explained the aims of the day, these immediately resonated with CSE and we put together a festival-style entertainment package for the event which we offered to pay for from our beneficiary fund.
This resulted in lots of excitement during the build-up to the picnic and an attendance of 400 across families from 12 schools in the Gosport and Portsmouth areas. Elise Gower, Service Family Link Worker, Alverstoke School said:
"Your presence at the event provided amazing entertainment for all our families, it bought parents, children and teachers together… the children had lots of fun and new friendships were formed which will help our service children when transitioning to secondary school".
Lt. Barry Richardson from HMS Sultan said:
"I can’t thank you enough really, it’s been incredible".
CSE entertainment included a children’s disco and show, mascots including The Gruffalo, a Minion and an Ice Princess. There were bouncy castles, a circus skills tutor, live music from Marz v Murz – a Bruno Mars and Ollie Murs tribute act, and the wonderful Bubble Max who does extraordinary tricks with bubbles.
In addition, there was an ice cream van, popcorn and candy floss for the all-important ‘sugar rush'. There was something for everyone and it was heart-warming to see the children enjoying the activities.
CSE’s Event and Marketing coordinator Sakina Bugge said
"I have one of the most rewarding jobs in the world, but taking a step back at this event, seeing all the children losing themselves in the moment and hearing their stories just cemented the power of live entertainment and the difference it can make".