‘Every day he makes me proud’ - Suffolk boy, 9, turns tragedy of father’s suicide into inspiring tale of hope
- Credit: Archant
An inspirational Suffolk boy whose father committed suicide after struggling to cope with life out of the Army is turning personal tragedy into a mission to save others from suffering.
Jamie Small is working with his mother Mandy to organise a fun day in Wickham Market in aid of the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) as thanks for the help it gave after the death of his father, Corporal Chris Small, in November 2016.
Mandy said her nine-year-old son came up with the idea while watching last year’s Pride of Britain Awards - when he said he wanted to bring enjoyment to others and help SSAFA.
“After everything Jamie has been through he has grown into an inspirational young man, full of love and ambition to help and protect others,” she said.
“Every day he makes me proud and he is the one person who can make me smile whatever.”
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She said SSAFA had been “huge support during a horrendous time” when it provided financial help and emotional support after Chris’s death.
Chris served 21 years in the Royal Logistics Corp, including tours of Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan as well at Rock Barracks. After taking voluntary redundancy in 2014, however, he struggled to adjust to civilian life.
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Mandy, who met Chris in Iraq in 2004 and was married two years later, said the problems became very hard to hide from Jamie.
The couple separated in May 2015 when Mandy and Jamie returned to Suffolk to be close to family.
Initially Jamie kept in touch with his father but as Chris faced ever darker times, it became more difficult.
In November 2016 Mandy was given the devastating news Chris had taken his own life.
“Telling Jamie was easily the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she said.
“To break my own child’s heart also broke mine, it was made harder by the fact I couldn’t do anything to ease his pain.”
Mandy wants more help for people leaving the Army.
“Maybe if Chris had known others felt the way he did things could have been different,” she added.
Jamie hopes he can use the fun day to raise awareness. It takes place at Wickham Market Primary School on Saturday, June 2, from noon to 4pm, featuring a whole host of entertainment - with Jamie devising more ideas all the time.
The family is seeking help from businesses and potential sponsors. Email the fun day for more details.