Giving Military Families A Fairytale Christmas

'Reading Force' is the crowdfunded charity sending books to the Forces families.

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas and what better way to spend it than with the family? 

But for many with loved ones in the Armed Forces, Christmas will be spent thousands of miles apart from them. 

Over the festivities, the charity 'Reading Force' is sending scrapbooks and stories to help children through the difficult chapters.

Around 11,000 personnel are expected to be deployed over the festive season; British personnel are deployed on 35 operations in 30 countries ranging from Somalia and South Sudan, to the Falklands and Ukraine.

Fourteen Naval vessels will be at sea and since 1969 Britain has had a nuclear deterrent, meaning a submarine on patrol 24 hours a day, every day including Christmas. 

It all adds up to a huge emotional struggle for the thousands left back home.

Anonymous British Army Soldier With Wife And Family
The Reading Force charity helps communication at home before loved ones return from service abroad.

Sian La-Borde's is a military wife and has a daughter of just three-years-old.  Amelie, has her fourth birthday coming up shortly, with Christmas right around the corner.

Husband and father Ryan works in logistics in the Royal Air Force and is currently deployed to the Falkland Islands. He will miss both Ameli's birthday and Christmas day, as he's deployed around 8,000 miles away.

"She is missing him," Sian told Forces News. 

"Particularly the last two or three weeks especially, she's cried out in her sleep for him or 'I miss my Daddy, I want a Daddy cuddle' and things like that."

Thanks to the charity, the La Borde family is able to share stories and collect memories together. The family have been given a scrapbook that can be filled with notes to and from Ryan, offering a welcome distraction before the trio are reunited.

The books provided by the charity are also an important topic of conversation between Amelie and her Dad:  

"If she's got a book, something she can relate to, she can tell him about what she's been learning about. So it gives her a sort of starting point to get talking and once she gets talking, you can't shut her up!" 

Military Families 171218 CREDIT BFBS
Amelie and Sian reading a story together.

Alison Baverstock, Director and Founder of 'Reading Force', said:

"We are delighted that Sian and her family plan to use 'Reading Force' to remain in each others’ thoughts over the Christmas period when they cannot be together.

“We hope people will consider helping other families in the same position by supporting our appeal to give books to Military families who are also separated this Christmas.

"We are currently posting books to separated families and will continue to do so over the Christmas holidays."

The charity hopes to raise £4,000 over the festive period and says there is still "a way to go to meet the crowdfunding target" but is still spreading the word to local business and communities.