Raleigh dads take up new support group

‘Dadz on Watch’, a new support and social networking group, set-up at HMS Raleigh, is getting ready for its next duty on Saturday 7 March.

The group is the brainchild of Petty Officer (PO) Chris Evans, a father of three young daughters, whose ages range from three to nine years. 

He said: “There seemed to be lots of support groups for mums, but very few for men, especially military men.  

“Service life brings its own challenges because of the time we spend away, so I thought a group here at Raleigh would be a chance for military folk to get together with their kids to have some fun and a chat.”

The group meets on a monthly basis in the Warrant Officers and Senior Rates Mess at the Royal Navy training base in Torpoint.   There is a range of toys and games including an outdoor play area with a 5-aside football goal, play stations, colouring and craft, pool and air hockey tables, suitable for all ages. 

PO Evans said:  “We started off with three dads and their children and now numbers are gradually creeping up.  Mums are welcome to come as well. However, they may wish to make other use of this opportunity for a well-earned break.  

“My kids absolutely love it.  As well as the play there’s also the chance for them to learn a bit about our jobs.  I’m a seaman specialist, so one week I took along some rope and showed the kids how to tie knots.”

Having joined the Service 17-years ago, PO Evans is now an instructor at the Royal Navy School of Seamanship. 

His career has taken him on numerous operational deployments ranging from multiple trips to the Mediterranean and to the Far East on more than one occasion, he’s also been involved in operations in the Baltic and has deployed to America, the Falkland Islands and Antarctica.

He was the Chief Bosun’s Mate on HMS Echo during Operation Litten where he led his deck team in the recovery of hundreds of migrants making the perilous trip from Northern Africa.

He said:  “I’ve suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in the past. I’m now a mental health first-aider and I’ve been trained to recognise trauma in other people. 

“Although I’m not an expert I can signpost people to other organisations that can help, but the group is not just about mental health.

“It’s about networking too; finding someone who can help with that DIY problem for example.”

The group meets on the first Saturday of each month.  It is open to any Service person living in the local area and to all civilian staff with a valid pass for HMS Raleigh.

Each session costs a suggested donation of £1 per adult to cover the cost of the refreshments.   All children are free.  The session lasts between 9.30 and 11.30 am.

Petty Officer Chris Evans

We started off with three dads and their children and now numbers are gradually creeping up. Mums are welcome to come as well. However, they may wish to make other use of this opportunity for a well-earned break.