TWO mothers are joining forces to help the families of troops injured in combat.
And they’re being supported by former Army captain Mark Learmont, who is today launching a scheme to encourage young servicemen and women to think about an issue rarely discussed – writing a will.
Mark Learmont, of Lindley, is working with Diane Dernie, mother of seriously injured Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson, from Herefordshire, and Lucy Aldridge, the mother of Rifleman William Aldridge, 18, from Doncaster, the youngest soldier to be killed in Afghanistan.
Mark, a financial adviser, said: “This is about two mothers using the experience they have been through to make sure that other mothers, fathers and loved ones don’t have to go through what they’ve been through.
“It’s about the tricky subject of getting them to think about wills and trusts.”
Both mothers battled the system to get the best for their own families after tragedy hit them.
Ben Parkinson is one of the most seriously-ill servicemen to return from Afghanistan.
He was offered just £152,150 after losing both his legs, suffering a brain injury, fractures to his skull, cheekbone, nose, jaw, pelvis and vertebrae as well as serious damage to his spleen and chest.
Lucy Aldridge, unable to work through injury, received the £66,000 paid to the next of kin of British servicemen who die in service.
On Remembrance Day last year she was told that her income support had been stopped because of the payout.
She said she had put a lot of the lump sum into the William Aldridge Charitable Foundation to help injured servicemen. The rest was invested for her younger sons’ futures, as requested by William.
Mark met Diane through his brother, James, who led the 7 Para Royal Horse Artillery, who Ben served with in 2008.
Mark said: “I’m from a military family so I understand it.
“When I was a young soldier I didn’t think about writing a will or leaving a trust prior to getting married. I was a single man and I was never encouraged to do either.
“This is all about encouraging them to put plans in place to help themselves and their families.”
Mark served from 1979 until 1987 in Germany and Northern Ireland. He is the son of General Sir John Learmont and Lady Susan Learmont.
He met wife Lesley while stationed in Germany where she was teaching the children of service personnel. They have two children, Robert, 25, and David, 20.
He added: “Diane and I are working together on this. I’m facilitating what she and Lucy want to achieve.
“It’s a difficult subject, but if we’re to have a military covenant to ensure we look after our Armed Forces then let’s give them all the advice we can before they go on operations.”
Mark and Diane will launch the Constellation Military Solutions in London’s Army and Navy Club later today. Lucy will support the cause on a voluntary basis.