Leading Seaman Matthew ‘Matty’ Andrews has given 15 years of service to the Royal Australian Navy and would not have it any other way.
He thoroughly enjoys his role training new officers at HMAS Creswell, teaching them the basics of going to sea during initial training. However, unlike many of his peers, to be able to focus on his work life, has had quite a few obstacles to overcome on the home front.
Leading Seaman Andrews and his partner, Adrienne, who has also served in the Navy, had their first baby, Rhiannon, in 2008 – 12 weeks premature, requiring not only immediate life saving treatment, but subsequent ongoing treatment for several years. In 2010, their son Rhys was born without incident. In 2013, when Adrienne was nearing term with their third child, the family lost baby Annabelle, and almost lost Adrienne, too.
“We were so unsure of what… how… why… the only things that kept us going were Rhiannon and Rhys because they depended on us,” Leading Seaman Andrews said.
Although far from healed in 2015, they decided to try for another baby. In October, at 34 weeks pregnant, things took a turn for the worse for both mother and baby. Both pulled through but were in different hospitals resulting in a logistical and financial nightmare for the family who were already dealing with their previous loss, as well as two other children.
This is when Navy Chaplain Dan Hynes stepped in. Leading Seaman Andrews hadn’t heard of Keeping Watch, the Navy’s own charity. Chaplain Hynes explained that grants were available for Navy personnel in need.
He stepped him through an easy application process and Leading Seaman Andrews was successful in receiving a grant of $1200, which significantly helped ease his family’s burden.
“We used the funds for accommodation, meals and fuel so that the two older kids and I could easily transfer between Sydney and Nowra,” Leading Seaman Andrews said.
“It was such an incredible help and really took the load off.
“We had enough stress going on, the last thing we needed was the added stress and embarrassment of borrowing money of friends and family.”
Things are now on the upswing and the whole family was able to spend Christmas together. Leading Seaman Andrews said his advice to anyone facing hardship was simple.
“Talk to your divisional system – usually when times are tough you will require some leave, if you are going to have that conversation, talk about Keeping Watch as well," he said.
“They are an amazing charity who give to people in need, but require support from all of us, too.”
To seek more info on Keeping Watch or to donate to Navy’s charity go to http://keepingwatch.org.au/.