A Midlothian five-year-old had the trip of a lifetime jetting to the US to show support for bereaved military families after his dad was killed in Afghanistan.
Royal Highland Fusilier Corporal William Savage, 30, was killed along with two fellow soldiers by a roadside bomb while on duty in Afghanistan just a few months before his son Connor, now five, was born.
Connor joined a group of six bereaved Forces children on the trip thanks to children’s Armed Forces charity, Scotty’s Little Soldiers.
Mum Lynzy said it was an amazing experience for both her and Connor, who can find it difficult to talk about his dad – known to all as Sav.
Organised by the American military bereavement charity, Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS), the 25th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar and “Good Grief Camp” welcomed over 2,500 participants to Washington.
Lynzy said: “We both had an absolutely amazing time. I wasn’t sure about it at first given that Connor is only five and he tends to be up and down about talking about his dad, but he had a fantastic time.
“He especially loved his mentors and said when he got home how much he misses them. He even got up in class last week and spoke about the trip which was a huge thing for him.
“I also found it great being able to share my experience with other mums who are in the same position as me, talking is such a great therapy and I got to know the other Scotty’s families really well.”
The four-day event included TAPS’ “Good Grief Camp” for bereaved children and informative workshops for adults focussed on coping with grief. The Good Grief Camp saw children pair up with adults who were either active-duty service members or veterans.
Alongside Memorial Day remembrance activity, Connor visited Smithsonian museums, the National Zoo and the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial, whilst also meeting stars of the NBA for basketball training.
Founded by war widow Nikki Scott, Scotty’s Little Soldiers in honour of Nikki’s husband and father to her two children, Corporal Lee Scott following his death in Afghanistan in 2009. She said: “It was great seeing Connor playing and enjoying time with other children and his mentors. The therapeutic activities are carried out in such a non-invasive way that Connor didn’t even realise he was having therapy.
“It makes me proud that the work we’re doing is having such a positive impact. Our relationship with TAPS goes from strength to strength and we’re enormously grateful to them for welcoming us to honour our fallen together.
“Creating new memories is important and it’s special to us that we have another organisation that share our ethos.”