Shela Maine was only five years old when her father, a soldier, was severely injured while on manoeuvres abroad. Her mother, Edna Maine (nee Kirkland) turned to SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity when she needed help.
In 1965, at the time of the accident, the family was posted to Dusseldorf, Germany and Shela’s father, David, was discharged shortly afterwards. SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, helped the family get back to the UK, assisted with finding them accommodation, and was instrumental in helping David access the specialist medical care he desperately needed.
Sadly, Shela’s father died within a year of his accident, aged just 29, leaving her mother, Edna, to raise twin girls aged five and their one-year-old brother, on her own.
“My mother worked tirelessly to ensure that, despite being raised within a one-parent-family, our eyes were wide open to education and opportunities. We are in awe of the level of devotion and the sacrifices she made to ensure we had an amazing upbringing. However, the strain did take its toll, and, in our teenage years, Mum turned to SSAFA again to assist her to find places for the three of us in military boarding schools.”
Edna was so grateful to SSAFA for the ongoing support it had given to her and her family that she pledged to give something back. When her childcaring years were over she trained as a SSAFA caseworker and volunteered for more than two decades, assisting countless other families, like her own, who found themselves in hardship.
“When my mother passed away last year, I knew that she would want me to do something to carry on helping SSAFA. Two months later I was made Lady Captain of my golf club, giving me the opportunity to choose a charity to support for my 12-month tenure. Of course, I named SSAFA, in memory of my mother, and I hoped that I would be able to raise £10,000 in her name.”
Shela smashed her target by raising £18,120 for SSAFA Somerset, the branch which had provided Shela and her family support so many years ago.
“Although I don’t live in the area now, my mother did for more than 80 years. Somerset is where she volunteered, and where we lived after my father’s death, so I feel it is very fitting that the funds raised go towards supporting all that SSAFA does in Somerset.”
If you would like to give a memorial gift in the name of a loved one this Christmas visit: ssafa.org.uk/support-us/other-ways-to-give/donate-in-memory