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 8 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.

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 Services in logistics and procurement. In retirement, Tim has held a number of different appointments including vice chair of the Charity for Civil Servants, member of the Armed Forces Pay Review Body and chair of Crown Hosting Data Centres. A former Chair of governors at Farnborough  Hill School Tim is currently Chair of the Prison Service Pay Review Body.

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.

Martin Davis


Having served for 11 years in the Army, Martin moved into industry and has spent the last 30 years building a career in technology and investment management. He currently runs a FTSE250 Venture Capital business investing in Europe’s most promising technology companies. More recently he has been involved in facilitating dual use technology, where the latest technological developments can be brought to bear for National Security and Defence purposes. This has brought his focus back towards the plight of service families as they support the vital work of our service men and women.

Joanne Walker


Jo joined the Trust as a Trustee in December 2023. She was a military child so has firsthand experience of the military life and the challenges around education. She has been a trustee of other military charities, both the Coming Home campaign and the charity Remembered. She is founding patron of the Tommy Club at RBLI ( Royal British Legion Industries). Jo works in the financial sector as a director, responsible for business transformation and regulatory change.

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. It was there that Simon finished his career, representing the Supreme Allied Commander Transformation at the Headquarters of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO). On retirement from the Army, Simon joined the 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 give him an excellent insight into the needs of service children.

Andrew Malcolm


Andrew has worked as a civil servant in the MOD for over six years supporting Service children.  Early projects included assisting in the drawdown from Germany and school improvement in Service schools.  He currently works within the Education Policy Team with a particular focus on Wales and overseas education.  Prior to the MOD he worked in local authorities, schools, colleges and HE in a variety of roles which included the Troops to Teachers project.  He has also been a Chair of Governors in a primary school and leads the Month of the Military Child for the MOD.

Candice Chisholm


Candice joined as a Trustee in December 2023.  Candice is the wife of a serving Sergeant in the Royal Air Force and a mother of two daughters.  Candice has experienced the challenges of military life and the impact this can have on service children and is committed to ensuring these children are not disadvantaged by their parent’s service.  Candice is a Chartered Accountant and Chartered Tax Advisor and previously served as a School Governor for two West Berkshire junior schools.  

Barry Burton CBE


Barry was a Civil Servant with the MOD for over 40 years, serving in London, Washington, Baghdad, Bristol and elsewhere. A Chartered Marketer for 30 years and a Programme Manager for 10, his experience spanned diplomacy, operations, policy, logistics, HR, procurement and governance. He worked closely with all three Armed Services in many roles, seeing at first hand the stresses and strains of service life. He served as a Trustee for a national charity for almost six years and has chaired the Board of Governors of a state secondary school.

Richard Clements OBE

Richard joined the Trust in February 2024.  Following a period of teaching outdoor education in Tasmania, he commissioned into the Royal Anglian Regiment and only recently left the Army after a 43 year career.  His Service saw him deployed worldwide to many areas of conflict. During this time he and his wife grappled with the realities of educating two children in an often turbulent Service environment.  He therefore understands the challenges faced by Service parents. Richard now works as a risk, resilience, and recovery consultant in Australasia, Europe, and UK.


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.