A woman living in Lincolnshire is aiming to complete 280,000 steps in February to raise money for a charity close to her heart who supported her and her twin boys after the death of her military-serving husband.
Wayne Shipstone, 44, died in June 2021, leaving behind his wife Jo and their 11-year-old twins Alfie and George. Jo said Wayne started drinking to banish his demons, which she believes were possibly linked to PTSD from serving in Afghanistan and Iraq.
After Wayne’s death the family were supported by a charity called Scotty’s Little Soldiers, which was set up by war widow Nikki Scott in 2010 to provide assistance to hundreds of bereaved British Forces’ children and young people around the UK and beyond.
Jo, 45, told The Lincolnite that she can’t thank the charity enough for helping her and her children through what was the most difficult time of their lives.
The charity ensured that Jo, George and Alfie were among 45 Scotty members to attend the national Remembrance Day parade in London in November 2021, where they proudly marched in memory of Wayne.
Jo began her fundraising challenge in Wayne’s memory on February 1 to help raise vital funds for the charity, who are continuing to support the family – donate to the fundraiser here.
Jo, who now lives in Ruskington with her twin boys, told The Lincolnite: “They have helped with counselling and respite care, funding to send us on trips and to the national Remembrance Day parade in London, and Christmas/birthday presents for the boys to remind them that they are not on their own. They also sent us to a party with other affected children and they are just amazing.
“The charity shows that not everything happens in active duty, and there are children whose parents (serving in the military) die for various reasons. They are a great support and the charity is like a family community. I have a phone number that me, or the kids, can call day or night if we are struggling.”
Wayne joined the forces in his early 20s as a supplier at RAF Benson and Mareham, where he held the rank of Corporal. He then made a career change and worked for Stagecoach for several years and the family moved to Lincolnshire in 2009 just a few months after Wayne and Jo got married.
Wayne later rejoined the military, this time the army, in 2012. He was a Lance Corporal with the Military Provost Guard Service (MPGS) and was based at RAF Coningsby while living with his family in accommodation at RAF Digby.
He was medically discharged on January 31 last year before he was tragically found dead on June 1, 2021.
Although the couple had previously parted ways, Jo said she will be forever grateful for the time they did spend with each other and their twin boys.
Jo, who is a nursery nurse at a pre-school in Lincoln, said: “Wayne will always have a place in my heart and I will always be grateful for our boys.
“He was an amazing dad and always put the boys first. He would do anything to make them happy. He was an amazing person and always backed them 100% and loved to see them do well.”
The fundraising event has been organised by Scotty’s Little Soldiers and encourages participants to set themselves the challenge of completing 280,000 steps before the end of February.
Jo is now about halfway through her fundraising challenge and said she has had “great support from family and friends”, while George and Alfie have been running with her during half-term.
She added that the charity paid the membership fees for her sons to join Navenby JFC, which she said “has not only helped me financially, but also the boys who have great bonds with the other players and the management, who are great positive male role models.”