A British Army spouse with breast cancer has told how being recognised in the New Year Honours for helping to boost the morale of troops overseas has lifted her own spirits at a difficult time in her life.
Charlotte Park, from Yorkshire, has been awarded a British Empire Medal for her 'services to the armed forces’ after setting up ‘Treats For Troops on Tour’ which, with the help of volunteers, sends out gifts to personnel deployed overseas throughout the year.
Charlotte says that being recognised in this way has boosted her own morale after an incredibly emotional 2020. She said:
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July so at the moment I’m going through pre-op chemotherapy.
“It’s been a really tough year, but this has put 2020 behind us.”
Of the 1,239 people who were recognised for their remarkable achievements and service in the 2021 New Year Honours list, 397 received a British Empire Medal.
BFBS Catterick broadcaster Chris Kaye spoke to Charlotte about the exciting news and how she has been getting on since her diagnosis. She said:
“It’s a struggle if I’m honest but I’m doing OK, better than I thought I would.
“Trying to keep positive which is a good thing because it can be very mentally draining as well as physically.”
The fundraiser came up with the idea for ‘Treats For Troops On Tour’ when her husband Derek was deployed to Afghanistan with 2nd Battalion, The Royal Regiment of Scotland (2 SCOTS) for nine months in 2015. When serving personnel are deployed overseas, it is often the little comforts of home which are missed most. She said:
“I’d asked him if anybody wasn’t receiving boxes when I was sending boxes out to him and he said yes, actually there is quite a few so that’s how it all started really.”
Since December 2015, Treat For Troops On Tour has sent more than 8,000 parcels to British soldiers overseas.
The charitable gift giver, who manages to put a smile on troops faces thanks to generous donations from her local community, discovered she had been put forward for a BEM via a simple email. She said:
“Absolutely amazing, totally shocked but thrilled by it all.
“It was a bit surreal. Couldn’t really sink it in properly to start with but it was a bit of a shock really.”
The reaction from friends and family has been incredibly supportive. She said:
"Loads of messages, loads of phone calls to say congratulations and that it’s truly deserved which has been lovely.”
VIDEO: Unsung Hero Winner 2018
In December 2018, Charlotte was the recipient of an Unsung Heroes award after Forces TV and BFBS, the Forces Station, asked for nominations for people's local Unsung Heroes. More than 30 people nominated Charlotte for always going the extra mile in supporting the armed forces.
Treats For Troops On Tour sends goodies to serving personnel around the world all throughout the year. She said:
“Christmas is one of our biggest ones. Easter tends to be big as well.
“We do a little bit for Valentine’s Day but yeah, as soon as we get donations in we send them out to whoever we’ve got addresses for really.”