New store in former Glenrothes Co-op is key support for grieving military families

Manager Marie Crawford and Bradley Crawford, Lynne Wright (Staff) with all members of staff, all which are volunteers.
Manager Marie Crawford and Bradley Crawford, Lynne Wright (Staff) with all members of staff, all which are volunteers.

The death of military personnel in conflict zones and wars around the world while serving in our armed forces is something that we are all too aware of in recent times.

From news reports of flag draped coffins of those killed being repatriated in the UK to the lines streets of places like Wootton Bassett, played out across our television screens, it’s hard not to be moved by such sombre events.

And for many of the families affected, the grief and heartache has only just begun.

The struggle to cope with the loss of a loved one means engulfs them.

Now an organisation is in place to help take some of the burden - and to offer practical help to families grieving for their lost relatives.

Forces Support has just opened its first Scottish store in the Kingdom Centre in Glenrothes, one of a network across the UK which raises funds to help provide builders, gardeners and a small team of handymen to do the mundane tasks which often get overlooked as families come to terms with their loss.

DIY and garden maintenance are just two examples of the small jobs that can seem insignificant at such times.

Forces Support, a charity set up in England six years ago, offers practical support to tackle such problems and help ease the burden of their grief, by providing professional builders and maintenance teams to help families in need.

Raising money through donations and a network of shops, it now has a Fife base in the heart of town - in the old supermarket store opposite Rothes Halls. A second outlet is soon to follow in Inverness.

Marie Crawford, store manager, explained: “The reason why the charity was set up is because it is something I’m very passionate about - I wanted to do something to help.

‘‘As a bereavement charity it does marvellous things helping families with the end results being quite remarkable.”

Professional builders and maintenance personnel, directly employed by the charity, undertake all manner of gardening, decorating and general maintenance work required with many resulting in a startling trans-formation for the families.

Launched in March 2010 by father and son partnership, Bill and Billy McCance, their aim was to create a national network of Forces Support outlets to raise the funds needed to run the practical support project on a UK-wide basis, with no job too big or to small and no family who had lost a family member excluded.

Based on volunteer support, it now boasts 20 stores across the UK with more planned to open in 2016, and volunteers such as 18-year-old student Bradley Ramsay, currently using his time when not studying to help out at the new Glenrothes outlet, are typical of the ethos behind the charity’s success.

“I just want to make a difference in what ever way I can to those families and volunteering for Forces Support seemed the most logical thing to do” he explained.

“The work it does is remarkable. It helps families rebuild their lives after tragedy and shows that people do care and want to support them with practical help.

“The physical result of rebuilding someone’s garden or helping with some simple refurbishments goes a long way to improving low esteem, boosting moral and coping with the process of grieving for a lost relative.”

Just two months into his volunteer career Bradley said he would be willing to continue his support for the charity once he goes on to study business after the summer.

To help promote the Glenrothes store and the call for more people to consider donating to the charity, staff are hosting a 80s themed fun day on Saturday running from 9am -5pm. There will face painting for the children as well as a wealth of other activities including a tombola, raffles and a bring and buy sale.

“We want to get the message out the people of Glenrothes about the good work the charity is doing and how the public can help,“ said Marie.

“Glenrothes folk have already been fantastic with donations and support and we hope that continues,” she added.

For more information about the charity can help someone you know, the work it does or ways you can help, go to www.forcessupport.org.uk