Kerry & Harry
Kerry Telford, a 39-year-old mother of two from Grimsby, lost her husband Sergeant Matt Telford of the Grenadier Guards in 2009 whilst he was serving in Afghanistan.
Matt, who was just 37-years-old when he died, served his country for 20 years. Kerry discusses the loss of Matt and the impact on their son, Harry, who was four-years old when his daddy was killed and how charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which is dedicated to providing support to bereaved British Armed Forces children, is helping the family.
Late on November 3 2009, a knock on the door turned Kerry’s world upside down. Kerry describes the moment she received the news that father-of-two Matt, who was training Afghanistan police; mentoring them and living with them in a compound, was shot and fatally wounded when one of the police officers turned on him and his comrades when they were off duty, unarmed.
Kerry said: “It was quarter to ten on a Tuesday evening and there was a knock at the door. I opened the door and there were police as well as Army offices on the doorstep. They asked me to confirm my full name. I knew why they were there, it doesn’t take much to figure out why the police and Army are at your door, late on a Tuesday evening when your husbands in Afghanistan.
“They said they were sorry, Matt had been killed. I was on my own and I went in to complete shock; my whole body started shaking. I must have been crying and shouting loudly as the officer closed doors and asked if Harry was asleep. I then realised I didn’t want Harry to wake-up. I needed time to get my head around what had happened before I explained to him. I immediately went in to mum mode, with Harry my priority.
“All of the officers, except for a female officer who stayed with me, left to go and explain to Matt’s parents what had happened. Afterwards they came back to explain what would happen next and advised that a liaison officer would be around in the morning.
“I called my mum and sister who immediately came over as I tried to get my head around what had happened. I also called Matt’s first wife, Nicola so that she could tell Matt’s son, Callum who was nine at the time.
“I didn’t sleep that night. My mum took Harry to school the next day and she explained to the teachers what had happened. I didn’t tell Harry as I still needed time to get my head around it and I didn’t want him there whilst the MOD (Ministry of Defence) were around.
“As soon as Harry arrived home from school I told him. I took him in to the bedroom and explained that his daddy had died and that he’d gone to be with the angels. He was too young to understand. Even when we went to the ceremony to receive the Elizabeth Cross from Prince Philip, when we stopped at the service station, Harry told Matt’s dad that he hadn’t seen his daddy yet, so it was clear he was too young to understand what had happened.
“After time, Harry just learned to get used to the fact that his daddy wasn’t coming back. He would talk about the ‘nasty mister who killed daddy’. He had seen coverage of Matt’s death on the news and in the papers and his friends talked about it.”
Football mad Harry, who Kerry describes as the spitting image of Matt and with the same personality, has been a member of Scotty’s Little Soldier’s since October 2014. Kerry explains how Harry has benefited from being a member of the charity, which was set-up in 2010 by Army widow, Nikki Scott in memory of her husband Corporal Lee Scott to support bereaved British Armed Forces children. Nikki and Lee had two children and she saw first-hand the effect the loss of a loved one in these circumstances can have on a child.
“Harry was nine-years-old when he joined Scotty’s in October 2014. When he was four, he didn’t understand and I felt he didn’t need any further help at the time as we had great support from family and friends. When he hit eight-years-old his attitude changed and he felt it wasn’t fair that he didn’t have a daddy and I knew that he would benefit from meeting other children who had been through a similar experience.”
“Straight after registering, we received a welcome pack which was really nice. What I found with Scotty’s was that it was more personal and it’s all about the young children. The questionnaire, asking about all Harry’s interests, including who his idol is, he really enjoyed completing.”
“On the anniversary of Matt’s death, Scotty’s sent Harry Pizza Hut vouchers, which was great as it ensured we spent time together and focused on remembering Matt for all the right reasons.”
“At Christmas, Harry received a big box of gifts and he’s now using the empty box as a memory box to keep all Matt’s memorabilia in. We’ve also enjoyed two Scotty’s breaks, one at a Scotty’s Lodge and the other at Center Parcs. It’s so important to be creating new, happy memories and the holidays are a great way to do this.”
“If I had to sum-up what Scotty’s means to us as a family, it would be that it’s a safety net. It’s reassuring to know that there is a community of people who have experienced what we have been through and that there is help and support just a call away.”
You can help support Kerry and Harry and other bereaved Forces children by donating online to Scotty’s Little Soldiers here.