School club’s mascot gets medal from NATO

Members of the Forces Friends Club show off their mascot Braves NATO award. Photo: Alan Walters
Members of the Forces Friends Club show off their mascot Braves NATO award. Photo: Alan Walters

The much-loved mascot of a school club for children with parents in the armed forces has received a NATO medal after completing a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Brave the teddy bear recently spent nine months in the Middle East with soldiers from Kendrew Barracks.

Toby Philips with the award

Toby Philips with the award

During that time, he ‘wrote’ regular letters to keep children in the Forces Friends Club at Oakham C of E Primary School updated on the tour.

Brave returned to the UK in August and has recently received a commemorative medal from NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg for his service during the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

Teacher Emerly Mupesa, who helps to run the Forces Friends Club, said the framed medal and certificate will be displayed in a prominent position at the school.

She said: “Having parents in the armed forces can be difficult for children because they often have to move around and they must deal with their mothers or fathers being away from home for long periods.

“The club exists to offer extra support to children if they need it, to provide stability, and to encouraged friendships between other children in similar situations.

“The club’s mascot, Brave, regularly goes on tour with club members’ parents to places such as Cyprus.

“Letters are sent back to the club during his time away. It is a child-friendly way of keeping them in touch with what their parents are doing when serving overseas.”

The Forces Friends Club currently has around 10 members and meets twice every term.

It is run by staff members and parents who have links with the armed forces.

Mrs Mupesa, whose husband services with 7 Regiment Royal Logistic Corp, added: “Brave is a very popular mascot and the children were very happy when he returned home from Afghanistan.

“During his time out there he also spent time serving with American and Turkish soldiers.”