HMS Oardacious and Huggable Heroes

HMS Oardacious’ Submarine Service Mental Health Fund launches its "Huggable Heroes" initiative, aiming to bring comfort to children of Submariners.

As part of Month of the Military Child, HMS Oardacious is launching its new “Huggable Heroes” initiative in conjunction with a film highlighting some of the challenges faced by children with a Submariner parent. (Scroll down for film)

In the film, Sophie Fraser (Families Representative for the HMS Oardacious Management Committee) shares her experience as the spouse of a Submariner with two young children and explains some of the ways that HMS Oardacious is working with other organisations and experts to advocate for this unique community.  Sophie’s husband, Callum Fraser, rowed across the Atlantic in both the 2019 and 2022 HMS Oardacious teams, and Sophie has been intrinsically involved in the project since it was created in 2018. 

HMS Oardacious’ Submarine Service Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund is delighted to announce its funding of a pilot project purchasing 250 Huggable Heroes® vouchers for the children of Submariners currently assigned to Submarines . Huggable Heroes are cuddly toys printed with a photograph of their serving parent, aiming to help children deal with the challenges of separation during the deployment period.  During the trial project, those eligible will be contacted by the Royal Navy to provide more details on how to claim their voucher.

Sophie says: “Members of our organisation have each experienced many deployments and the impact these can have on Mental Health. As such, the team are incredibly passionate about being ambassadors for Mental Health and Wellbeing for both serving personnel and their families and that it is as important to support the families as it is the serving personnel within the Royal Navy. As such, one of the aims of the HMS Oardacious – Submarine Service Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund is dedicated to finding ways to support children of serving personnel who can have varying reactions to a deployment.  The Huggable Heroes® toys represent their parents and give children a tangible reminder of their parent looks like, so they can feel close to them even though in reality they’re a long way away. As we celebrate Month of the Military Child, it was the perfect time to announce the pilot project”.

Cdr Matthew Main, Marine Engineer Officer and Skipper of the HMS Oardacious 2023 Rowing Crew, explains the importance of supporting Submariner families.  “We’re trained for it, when we deploy we’re with other submariners who are literally in the same boat… but our families haven’t signed up for it necessarily, certainly the children haven’t.  Charities and organisations like HMS Oardacious are there to helping to look after your family and to support them through a difficult period.”

Sophie is joined in the film by Helen Mason, Occupational and EMDR Therapist and Co-Founder of The Submarine Mermaid Postal Service Project, a first of its kind project to support young children during submarine deployments where a parent, carer or relative is on deployment to contact the shore.  Helen’s involvement in the film highlights the importance of peer support and the resourcefulness of our Submarine family’s community. 

The HMS Oardacious – Submarine Service Mental Health and Wellbeing Fund, supported by RNRMC, is committed to funding resources, projects and events that support the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Submariners and their families during the deployment cycle.  Deployment cycles are a challenging period for everyone involved, not just when the serving person is at sea but also in the pre and post deployment period and the Submarine Service places significant demand on the time of their personnel which can impact their ability to have a normal routine, even when the platform is alongside. The fund is always interested in requests for grants which can help reduce the Mental Health and Wellbeing impact of this part of Royal Navy life.

HMS Oardacious welcome grant requests, for more application guidance and eligibility criteria, visit

HMS Oardacious have a website, and can be found on Instagram, Facebook and X @HMSOardacious

Huggable Heroes® are an award winning toy, lovingly handmade in Norfolk, England.  The Heroes fit perfectly under little arms to carry around and they are small enough for older children to tuck into school bags.  Find out more at

Youth Voice Survey 2024

Tri-Service Youth Voice Survey 2024

Led by the Tri-Service Youth Voice Steering Group, this survey aims to gather the opinions of as many youth voices as possible. Whether you are addressing the challenges of frequent relocations, social barriers, accessing further education, or work opportunities, every voice matters. The survey is anonymous, ensuring young people may express themselves freely.  

The survey will capture military children’s perspectives, insights, and suggestions. After all, being a part of a Service family can have unique experiences and challenges. The voices of our military youth are vital in shaping the support services and initiatives provided to military families.  

Help us amplify the voices of our Armed Forces youth community by completing the survey today!  

Don’t miss out on the survey’s closing date, Friday 31 May 2024.  

If you want to be involved in your area’s youth voice, then please contact the MOD today 

Tech Camp

Engineering and Programming Camps

This coming summer, the Naval Children’s Charity are running a programme to help fund places at Tech Camp’s week-long residential engineering and programming camps for children aged 9-17. We are delighted to be able to offer discounted and, in some cases upon application, some further subsidised, places with the different courses offered by Tech Camp based near Winchester.

Campers choose a particular topic for the week with bookings open for four weeks from Monday July 28th to Friday August 23rd . There are lots of high-tech options from building robots and gadgets, to learning how to fly drones, operate 3D printers, and design computer games.  Uniquely, all campers get to take home the equipment they have built so the learning and experimentation can continue after camp finishes.

To see the range of courses on offer this summer, go to  If you’d like to apply for a funded position on one of these courses, you can find out more about how we are supporting families for this event and fill in an application form here.

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Forces Employment Charity

Our partnership with the Forces Employment Charity

The Forces Employment Charity offers the military community life-long, life-changing support. The Families Programme support extends to Service children and young adults aged 16-24. The programme provides free mentorship, resources, and access to events to help individuals on their career journey.

The charity’s dedicated advisors have experience in military life and understand the importance of supporting the whole Service family, in finding fulfilling careers. Advisors will tailor support based on the unique needs of each client. Sessions can boost confidence, help widen aspirations, and explore different pathways into employment. By registering, young people can get help writing their first CV, preparing for interviews, and much more.

How it works..

We are collaborating with the Forces Employment Charity through our Life Chances Programme. Together, our organisations support children from naval families who are embarking on the Tall Ship Empowerment Voyages. The initiative will help participants understand and leverage their skills and experiences toward finding fulfilling and sustainable careers.

Following each voyage, the Forces Employment Charity will conduct dynamic activities and workshops. These sessions will help young people articulate their experiences and identify transferrable skills from their onboard. The charity invites participants aged 16 to 24 years old to register for one-to-one career support.

The Forces Employment Charity delivers ongoing support virtually, adapting to each individual’s preferred communication method, whether online, over the phone, or via email. All Forces Employment Charity staff working with children and young people are subject to enhanced DBS checks for safety and security. All communications are logged meticulously. Parents interested in engaging with their child’s caseworker can easily schedule a call.

Register with the Forces Employment Charity for bespoke career advice !


Month of the Military Child 2024

A Celebration of Military Children.

Did you know the official flower of the military child is the dandelion.

Its seeds are blown far and wide by the wind, but it will always plant roots and blossom wherever it lands. Well-rounded, culturally aware, tolerant, and extremely resilient, military children know that home is where their hearts are and that a good friend can be found in every corner of the world.

April is the Month of the Military Child, a month-long focus on the important role Service children play in the Armed Forces community. It is a time to recognise Armed Forces families and their children for the daily sacrifices they make and the challenges they overcome.

To celebrate this month here at the Naval Children’s Charity we would love to see any artwork, poetry, short stories or the like that your children may create to celebrate this special month. If you are happy for us to share on our social media, please email the works here.

Neurodiversity Celebration Week

This week is Neurodiversity Celebration Week!
A worldwide initiative that challenges stereotypes and misconceptions about neurological differences. It aims to transform how neurodivergent individuals are perceived and recognising the many talents and advantages of being neurodivergent, while creating more inclusive and equitable cultures that celebrate differences and empower every individual. Please watch the accompanying film to find out how the NCC can help you on this journey.

A New Psychological Toolkit for Armed Forces Children

The Naval Children’s Charity are thrilled to be launching ‘Doing Distance’ – a psychological toolkit for armed forces children, to help them navigate the challenges that come with service life, particularly around separation and mobility.

Whether you are a parent of a military child, or a supporting adult from their school or local community, this new psychological toolkit has been specially designed to help support your armed forces children. This toolkit has been compiled with the help from the team at ‘Bear Us In Mind’, a group with over 30 years’ experience working directly with families around separation and loss.

The Naval Children’s Charity’s aim is for these resources to help military children and their supporting adults to navigate the highs and lows of service life. These tools will help with the processing of the challenges experienced by children and young people and enable them hold on to special memories. All these resources will be available to download for free.


Clare Scherer MBE, from the Naval Children’s Charity, said:

”We could not be more grateful to Julie Stokes and the Bear Us In Mind team for their generosity in allowing us to adapt and use this amazing toolkit.  We really think it will bring help and support to lots of our families as they deal with some of the challenges that come with life as a service family.”


The ‘Doing Distance’ toolkit can be found here.

Celebrating International Women’s Day

As International Women’s Day is being celebrated across the globe, here at the Naval Children’s Charity we would like to celebrate things a little closer to home. Last month our Chief Executive Officer, Clare Scherer, went to Buckingham Palace to receive her MBE from The Princess Royal, in recognition of her services to Naval families.

Clare received the award as part of His Majesty Charles III’s inaugural ‘Birthday Honours List’. 

“I am extremely proud and delighted to be the recipient of this award. It truly is an honour and I am deeply grateful to HM The King,” said Ms Scherer.  

First working with the NCC as a consultant in 2008, Clare was appointed CEO in 2018. 

During that time, the charity has undergone a successful re-brand, commissioned extensive research into the stresses on the lives of military children in the UK, and produced a suite of resources that help Naval families cope with deployment, grief and mental health. 

“The [MBE] award is in recognition of my work supporting Naval families and, in reality, the award is for my entire team of staff at the NCC,” says Clare.

“They are the ones who work closely with our families, children and young people, ensuring that their needs are met in a compassionate and meaningful way and I would like to commend them for the dedication and passion they bring to the Charity.” 

At the NCC, we believe that to be the child of someone who is, or has been, in the Naval Service should be a positive and enhancing experience – something to be borne with pride.  

As such, over the next few years, the NCC is expanding its ‘Life Chances’ programmes; offering all Naval children new experiences which will give them the skills to thrive in their future lives and careers. 

Clare added: “We are excited to be developing our support to all our Naval Children, not just those where there is crisis driven by disability, illness or significant financial hardship.  

“Many of our children and young people are impacted by their parents’ service in the Royal Navy and we look forward to providing them with resources and opportunities to help them cope and enable them to thrive, helping them to be the best they can be.”

Congratulations once again, Clare Scherer MBE.

Youth Crew


Our wonderful friends at Greenwich Hospital and the Royal Naval Sailing Association (RNSA) are delighted to announce the launch of an exciting new project that will provide free sailing opportunities for children of families of personnel serving in the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Fleet Auxiliary.  The RNSA, the charity that provides the sport of sailing for the Navy, funded by Greenwich Hospital will be offering free RYA start sailing weeks delivered through the Andrew Simpson Foundation (ASF) across the UK.  This is a super exciting chance to support Service families and introduce them to the fun and many benefits of sailing. 

The dedicated courses start this Easter and the aim is to get hundreds of 11-17 year olds sailing in 2024 and beyond.  They will be doing everything they can to make these weeks fully accessible and inclusive with no previous experience needed. The project will include a water safety element to help develop confidence for those less well versed with the sea!  The RNSA team will be reaching out to explain the offer, help with the booking process and guide applicants through the process.  Enquiries should be directed to  and the website will be available for bookings from early March (  Please do get in touch as sailing really is fun and does provide a great vehicle for building a whole range of skills in young people as well as enhancing fitness and well-being.   We will also be looking at follow on pathways to help young people take up ‘Sailing for Life’.

The BIG Debate

We live in a world where the best jobs and best opportunities go to the people who are most articulate, the people who are best at putting their point across. So, learning to debate can be incredibly valuable for young people.

Frequent moves can disrupt a child’s social support network and cause feelings of isolation, as they may have to often adjust to new environments, schools, and peer groups. This can lead to a sense of disconnection and loneliness, as the child may struggle to establish meaningful relationships in their new community.

So, recognising the advantages of debate training and the sometimes-isolated situation for naval children, we at the Naval Children’s Charity, working in partnership with veterans charity Forward Assist and educational charity Parallel Histories, created a new debating programme. A programme for young people from naval families who would both benefit from debate training and enjoy getting to know and sharing experiences with other young people from naval families located in different parts of the country or abroad.

Over a series of online workshops, our young people learnt many valuable skills to take forward in life. They were then invited to take part in a final debate in London, the topic in question? Discuss the Pros and Cons of being a Naval Child.

Joshua Hillis, Deputy Editor of Parallel Histories commented:

‘They were brilliant. They were articulate and debating in a way that really, we’d hope adults would debate, they were engaging respectfully with each other but robustly, and relating their own experiences in an emotionally mature way. The confidence and speaking skills they brought to it was amazing and the ability to engage with questions coming from Ministers and senior figures and also doing that in front of a camera with the lights on them. That was impressive.’

Many thanks to the team at Parallel Histories for all the fantastic work they put into giving our young people a wonderful experience and some fantastic life skills to take forward.