Emma Sagar

Originally from YorkshireI joined the Army in 1998, where I have specialised as a Counter Intelligence and Security practitioner,  seeing active service throughout the world.

I am currently the Deputy Security and Vetting Officer for the Joint Intelligence Training Group. In my spare time, I am studying  BSc (Hons) Risk & Security Management at Portsmouth University.

I am married to a fellow serving soldier. We have a three-year-old daughter, Seren. Our first child, Matthew, was born in 2010. He was a real blessing, but tragically when he was 18 months old, he was diagnosed with a rare neurological illness; Spinocerebellar Ataxia Type 7.  Due to the degenerative nature of Matthew’s illness, he required round the clock medical care and intervention.  This put a tremendous amount of strain on me mentally and physically as I tried to strike a balance between the needs of the Army, (I was an instructor at the time), my terminally ill son and my husband.

Thankfully, the Army allowed me to take leave for 7 months to care for Matthew during the palliative care stages.  This allowed me to ensure he had the best care possible whilst enhancing his quality of life, despite the limitations of his illness.    In May 2013, Matthew peacefully passed away in my arms, just after his third birthday. During our time of nursing Matthew, we found a lack of timely support in several areas; from housing adaptations and the procurement of specialist medical equipment to palliative nursing care within the home environment. This inspired me to try and make a difference to other families in the same situation. By the 1st anniversary of Matthew’s death, I had launched the Matthew Seren Trust, in his memory. The primary aim of the trust  is to support children and their families with life limiting or life changing illnesses and disabilities.  We are a small family-run unregistered charity and we pride ourselves on the personal, bespoke and timely interaction we have with our benefactors.  We understand that sometimes tomorrow is simply too far away.  To date we have supported over 25 families; ranging from one off grants to the provision of a versatile  made to measure wheelchair.  We are currently working on a project in collaboration with the Liam Fairhurst Foundation to create a safe place in a garden for a four-year-old little girl with complex medical needs to play and have fun.

I am extremely passionate about ensuring that families that receive the diagnosis of a life limiting or life changing illness or disability are provided with the support they need in the early days following diagnosis.  I actively seek out families,be it military or civilian, that have family members with life limiting or life changing illnesses or disabilities and either provide direct support through the Matthew Seren Trust or by sign posting them to the relevant charities or agencies that are best placed to support them.

I am living proof that you can have a demanding full-time career in the British Army, whilst being married to a serving soldier and being inspired to help others through the devasting loss of a child.

I subsequently underwent the gruelling regime of IVF/PGD to be blessed with our daughter Seren in 2015.  My aim is to inspire women across defence to remain serving, despite the many curveballs life may throw at us, whilst raising a family in the armed forces.

I have recently been voted onto the executive board of the Chronic conditions and Disabilities in Defence (CanDiD) network as the Carers and Families Advocate. The network has been established to connect and support Service Personnel, dependants and veterans with, or caring for persons diagnosed with a life-changing or life limiting condition, impairment or disability.  Supported by the Armed Forces Disability Champion, CanDiD will endeavour to meet the needs of member, dependants, the chain of command and management, whilst driving inclusive and positive cultural change in the work place.   I feel immensely proud to be part of this ground-breaking initiative.

When I’m not studying or working or helping with the trust I am a keen equestrian woman and can often be found on horseback with my daughter Seren!