About us

The Armed Forces Education Trust is a charity working for children and young adults whose education has been compromised or put at risk as a result of parents’ past or current service in our Armed Forces. The grants we give make a difference to young lives, helping improve their educational opportunities or supporting special skills or talents.

Our aims

To help fund the education of the children of service men and women who have been disadvantaged by their parents’ service.

To ensure children do not miss out because of their parents’ service, regardless of age, ability, parental rank or past or current service.

To provide schools with funding for additional resources to support the education of children whose parents serve or have served in our Armed Forces.

Our People

Charmian Hickman

Chief Executive Officer

Charmian has worked for the Armed Forces Education Trust since 2016 as the Trust’s Chief Executive Officer.  Over the past 5 years, Charmian has developed an excellent understanding of the issues faced by Armed Forces families, building upon her experiences having served as an officer in the Royal Corps of Signals. Since leaving the Army, Charmian has worked for many years in tertiary education and the commercial sector. As mother of three young adults, together with her professional experience, Charmian has first-hand experience of the funding issues currently facing the education system.

Alan Behagg MBE


Educated at Sandhurst and Oxford, Alan served in the Army for nearly 30 years. He left in 1996 and has worked at board level as the HR director in a major British university. He has been a Trust member for over five years and Chairman since April 2017. Alan is committed to ensuring the Trust runs effectively and reaches the most service pupils, particularly those whose parents might not necessarily see education as their main priority.

Maria Clohessy

Trust Treasurer

Maria joined the Trust as a Trustee and our Treasurer in February 2017. Maria has very significant and broad experience of financial and governance related matters. Previous professional roles include Head of Finance at The London Stock Exchange plc, and prior to that at KPMG where she qualified as a Chartered Accountant. Maria was previously a Trustee of the Charity for Civil Servants.

Merrick Willis OBE


Merrick Willis joined the Army after university and served worldwide for 21 years. He subsequently headed a multi service NHS Trust for ten years and has since held a number of board-level public and not-for-profit sector appointments including six years running, a large grant-giving charity. Merrick loves working with a charity that helps give young people chances that they might otherwise be denied because of their parents’ service.

Jenny Lycett


Jenny’s career spans over 30 years in the Civil Service with the Ministry of Defence, working alongside all three Armed Services, specialising in financial management and corporate governance.  She now works part-time as a recruitment consultant and is a trustee of Duke of York’s Royal Military School, having been a school governor there for eight years previously.

Iain Buckle


Iain served in the Royal Navy for 34 years, with time deployed in aircraft carriers, destroyers and frigates, along with appointments in equipment acquisition, financial planning and HR.  Having spent most of his career in the Navy serving away from his family, he is aware of the many challenges faced by service children, particularly with respect to their education.  He now works in the financial sector as a director, responsible for a number of data technology programmes.

Tim Flesher CB


Tim was a civil servant for 36 years working in a number of Departments, including the Home Office, the Prime Minister’s Office, OFSTED and the Inland Revenue. He finished his career in the Ministry of Defence where he worked along side the Armed Sevices in logistics and procurement. Since he has taken on a number of different roles including vice chair of the Charity for Civil Servants, member of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and chair of Crown Hosting Data Centres. He was, until recently, Chair of governors at Farnborough  Hill School and is currently Chair of the Prison Service  Pay Review Body.

Dominic Toriati OBE


Dom joined the RAF from school in 1988 and spent 30 years as a helicopter pilot and
staff officer including command tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and in the UK as a
Squadron and Station Commander at RAF Odiham. Dom is now the Bursar of a large
independent day and boarding school for pupils aged 4-18 in North Northamptonshire.
Dom has 3 children in education and has seen at first hand the challenges that can arise
for the children of service men and women. And with current knowledge of education in
the UK, Dom is delighted to be working with the Trust and helping to support families
from across the Armed Forces.

Lucy Robinson


Lucy Robinson is a DPhil candidate at the Department of Education, University of Oxford. Her DPhil is funded by the ESRC and is focused on the educational experiences of service children. Before embarking on her DPhil at Oxford, she completed her PGCE and MEd in Primary Education at the University of Cambridge. As a service child herself, she has lived experience and with that, a deep compassion for children who experience disadvantage in education because of their backgrounds.

Simon Porter CBE


Simon spent 34 years in the Army. The first half of his career was spent with the Royal Anglian Regiment in various places around the world. Simon’s military career then took on an international focus, including posts in Australia, Sierra Leone and Brussels where he Simon finished his career as the Supreme Allied Commander of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). On retirement from the British Army in 2014, Simon joined the Directing Staff of the Royal College of Defence Studies in London.

Simon’s command experience in the Army coupled with managing his own family’s educational needs during an international career, give him an excellent insight into the needs of service children.

Lindsey Abbott

Education Advisor

Lindsey Abbott was appointed as Education Advisor to the Board of Trustees in March 2017. Lindsey has 37 years’ experience in the education sector and spent nine years as headteacher in a secondary school in Aldershot. In this role Lindsey gained valuable experience working with service children and their families and has brought that insight and understanding to the Trust.

Derry Caleb

Buildings Adviser

Derry is a retired chartered Engineer and Director of Estates and Facilities, who spent over 40 years involved in estate management and capital development. He has been responsible for estates and capital development in higher education, health, and commercial business. Derry was chairman of the Association of University Directors of Estates, and represented the  sector on a number of initiatives with the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) and other bodies. Derry’s role is to provide advice and guidance on the issues that arise from estate owned by the trust.

Our history

Originally set up in 1855, The Soldiers’ Daughters' Home supported the orphaned daughters of soldiers from the Crimean War. The home supported daughters of servicemen over the next 90 years before becoming an independent school in 1944. The, then renamed, Royal Soldier’s Daughters’ School and now Armed Forces Education Trust continues to provide funding for educational help and support to children from all three Armed Forces. Roll over or select the circles for further details.