The Flemings

A big thumbs-up for our first break...

Meet our first family: Ray, Tahlia, Lachlan and Sam Fleming - not forgetting Ringo the dog - from Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire.

An inspirational veteran, his wonderful wife and two of their very sweet children joined us for our first respite break this week. Ray Fleming is a veteran who suffers from PTSD, has a compression fracture in his spine and is currently battling cancer, his wife Sam suffers from MS.

As if that isn’t enough, the Flemings were moved into temporary accommodation last year whilst improvements were being made to their home to make it more accessible for them both. Supposed to only take a few weeks, they are still in the same ‘temporary’ accommodation to this day.

We couldn’t think of a family we would want to help more and despite their difficulties, the whole family arrived at the Harbour Room smiling from ear to ear.

The Flemings were put forward by their RBL caseworker Keith to John McCarthy, the Welfare officer area manager for Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex. John has worked tirelessly with us to provide everything needed to get this project off the ground, staying in regular contact throughout the whole process. He has supported us wholeheartedly and we wouldn’t have got this far without him or his team.

Blakeney Cley and District Royal British Legion hosted a welcome barbecue for the Flemings at their club base, The Harbour Room in Blakeney. Members of the branch and club attended to welcome the family and many members of the Blakeney community turned out to show their support.

The Flemings then spent the rest of their four days in Norfolk visiting Holkham Hall and Amazona Zoo, taking a trip on the North Norfolk Railway from Holt to Sheringham, learnt crabbing at Blakeney Quay and they also learnt to sail together on a trip from Morston out to see the seals at Blakeney Point.

Sam was overwhelmed at the difference the break made to her family, "Having all the activities we enjoyed in north Norfolk: Holkham Hall, the steam train, sailing, seal trips, zoo and crabbing was amazing, there's so much to do! George at Norfolk etc. was fantastic, he told us what white horses were!".

Tahlia said, "My best thing was going on the boat trip to see the seals and ducking under the water was fun!". Lachlan told us, "I loved sailing a boat and can't wait to go to the zoo!"

​Sam added, "For us to get away and relax was wonderful, being in a safe, nice community was great for the children - the kids were waking up with smiles on their faces for the first time in ages - this absolutely needs to be available to more families. I cannot tell you the difference it's made to our family over the three days."

Ray agreed with Sam, adding, "I loved it, such a friendly welcome and a wonderful location, surrounded by beauty. So much to do and only a relatively short distance away for us. I enjoyed the seal trip and the tranquillity of being on the water especially. It was great to see the kids learn lots about sailing and take them crabbing plus it was good to have time to relax as well as do the activities"

About the break organised by Blakeney Cley and District Royal British Legion, Sam said, "It's priceless what we have been given. People like us should be here all the time benefiting from what we have enjoyed, it was wonderful to have things planned for us so I didn't have to organise things and I actually had time to rest. You guys have been amazing. You have to keep on doing what you're doing as it's made a big difference to our lives."

Ray, Sam, Tahlia and Lachlan joined us at the Harbour Room, the home of Blakeney, Cley and District Royal British Legion to let us know just how much they enjoyed the break and to tell us what a huge difference it had made to their family. We'll leave it to Sam to sum up, when we asked what her favourite part of the break was: "All of it. We had such a great time and made happy memories."

As it organises the next break and looks forward to it being as successful as this one was, Blakeney, Cley and District Royal British Legion would like to thank and acknowledge the generosity of its delivery partners, Holkham Hall, Amazona Zoo, Norfolk etc. The Poppy Line and Blakeney Harbour Room.

Thanks also to the Flemings for their enthusiasm and to everyone involved in creating such a rewarding and vital project that has made life better for four people - and one dog - and one which hopes to become a regular part of the Royal British Legion's programme for breaks and which allows us to serve our two communities: Royal British Legion beneficiaries and the local community..