A Thornbury bride dedicated her wedding last weekend to the charity that has supported he children since the death of her late husband.

Rachel and Martin Smith tied the knot 14 years after her husband, Lance Corporal John Murphy, took his own life.

At the time their children, Steven and Emily, were just three and two years old.

The wedding day was dedicated to Scotty’s Little Soldiers. The charity supports children and young people who have experienced the death of a parent and has been a huge part of Steven and Emily’s lives.

It was important to them that John, who served for 16 years with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was part of their day. It was a military wedding and Steven wore his dad’s medals with pride, while Emily wore her mum’s Elizabeth Cross Flower of Remembrance pin.

“It was Martin’s idea to involve Scotty’s in the day,” said Rachel. “He knows how much it means to Steven and Emily. We’ve been together for eight years so he’s seen the Scotty’s journey and knows what the charity means to them.

“Scotty’s has always been there, every birthday, anniversary, Remembrance Day, they make the children feel like they are not alone.

“Over the years the charity has been incredible with providing emotional well-being support to Steven, who as a teenager really struggled with his mental health and in coming to terms with why his dad did what he did. We wouldn’t have got through this dark period without Scotty’s.”

The Scotty’s flag was flown at the church throughout the ceremony and a Scotty’s gazebo was outside the church. Instead of presents, Rachel and Martin asked for donations to the charity.

The couple were only able to invite 30 guests to their wedding due to Covid restrictions, but they still raised £1700 for Scotty’s.

“The Swan in Thornbury provided our catering and when they heard we were donating funds to Scotty’s, Sandra Davies, who runs the business, took some money off the bill as a donation. I was really touched,” said Rachel.

Talking about her wedding day, Rachel said: “It was fantastic from beginning to end. I’m still pinching myself.

Gazette Series: Rachel and Martin on their wedding day. Photo: Bethany Wood Beth Rachel and Martin on their wedding day. Photo: Bethany Wood Beth

“I remember after John died someone telling me that things would never be the same again but that I would learn to live with it and cope with it. I didn’t believe it at the time, but it’s right.

"Grief is a weird thing. You can be two weeks down the line, two years, twenty years, and something will come and bite you.

"Music, food, something on the telly, even an expression on one of the kids’ faces. Suddenly it all comes flooding back, but you develop an amazing coping mechanism.

“You can move on, you can learn to live again and it’s okay to love again. When you are a widow, particularly a war widow, you feel in the spotlight and everyone is interested in what you do or has an opinion.

"I didn’t know what people would think when I started dating Martin, but I believe that if you find happiness again, you should grab it because you only have one life to live.”

“Our photographer, Beth Wood, who used to be a Scotty member before she turned 25, took a lovely picture of the wedding bouquets on John’s memorial bench that is in our garden.

"We also have a picture of Steven wearing his dad’s medals, standing with his godfather, who was John’s best friend. It brings me to tears every time I look at it, but I’m glad John could be involved, in some way, in the day, and incorporating Scotty’s meant a lot to us all. I think it helped to reassure Steven and Emily that even though I am married again their dad won’t ever be forgotten.”

Scotty’s Little Soldiers was set up by Army widow, Nikki Scott, in 2010 after her husband, Corporal Lee Scott, was killed in action in Afghanistan, leaving behind two young children.