BBC Radio Blog

Margaret Evison with Jeremy Vine

I never thought I would sit at my desk with tears rolling down my cheeks.

My colleagues are now used to the sight of me sobbing and it's one guaranteed way to get them to make you a cup of tea. It still surprised me though the first time I saw Jeremy Vine wiping a tear from under his glasses.

It was Jeremy who came up with the idea for this special series for Remembrance week. Each programme features an interview with the mother of a fallen soldier in which she tells the story of his life and his death and shares the songs he loved to listen to.

The soundtrack is an eclectic mix from rock to rap to rave. There's a football chant, a soaring school hymn, a party anthem and a beautiful piece of classical cello. The music takes the mothers back to a particular time or place and the memories that emerge paint a picture of the son she lost.

As an army wife, I knew it would be an emotional rollercoaster as the subject is very close to home. I know how it feels to wait and to worry. I also know the feeling of complete joy when my husband walks through the door after six months away.

The five mothers we met never had that homecoming hug. Two of them felt fortunate to be able to hold their son's hand as he lay seriously wounded in a hospital bed in Birmingham but for the others their reunion was at RAF Lyneham when his coffin was carried from the plane.

These are some of the intensely personal moments the mothers shared when we visited them around the country. We were welcomed into family homes in Abergavenny, Caversham, Sheffield and Dulwich and greeted warmly on a windy day out at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.

Jeremy Vine says it has been an incredible privilege to spend time with the mothers:

"I have never in my entire career recorded interviews which have been so powerful and so moving. Sons who were only boys, who died on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan as young as 19, are missed as much today by their family as the day they left them. I doubt we will ever hear these songs the same way again."

The music has already started to follow me round. It feels like every time I turn on the TV or turn up the radio, one of the songs is playing and my thoughts turn immediately to Richard, John, Mark, Cyrus or Liam.

I will think of their brave mothers when I start moaning about the magnolia paint and floral curtains in our next army quarter.

We are all fiercely proud of a man in uniform at the centre of our lives but mine is still here and I realise now more than ever how lucky that makes me.

Jill Misson is a producer of The Songs My Son Loved which is on Radio 2 at 1.30pm next week, 7th to 11th of November.

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  • Comment number 55. Posted by hmeeke

    on 15 Nov 2011 12:28

    I am a secondary school teacher and listened to Cyrus' story last week with my form as part of Remembrance Week. My students are 14 years old and many have friends and family who are serving in the armed forces. They wanted to pass on their thanks to Helena for sharing her family's story with us. All of my students were deeply moved by what they heard and they said that it has made them realise just how their friends and families have been affected. They also said that it has made them appreciate their families more. So, from them and me, many thanks to Helena, all the mums who shared their stories last week, and to all the servicemen and women who are so brave and courageous. Thank you.

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  • Comment number 54. Posted by Lisa

    on 14 Nov 2011 16:35

    I have often wondered at the devastation behind those often heard words... The family have been informed. This was brought home last week during this exceptionally moving series. I decided to write this poem on Friday after listening to a song which reminds me of my own Son....
    This poem is dedicated to the Mothers featured on the show, and to all of the sons and daughters we have lost.

    Five Words.

    I heard those words again today...
    Five words...five words
    Thats all they say.
    Those five words rip through my heart
    A family has been torn apart.
    Those words refer to someone's Brother
    To someone's friend, to someone's lover
    To someone's Dad, to someone's boy
    To someone's pride, to someone's joy.
    Those words mean hearts have just been broken,
    Echoes left of words unspoken
    A face that can't be touched again,
    A void that's only filled with pain.
    Those words mean lonely depths of sorrow
    This day will stay with no tomorrow
    Today's the day their world stops turning
    Today's the day the grief starts burning..
    Those words are heard too much, too often
    The blows too hard for words to soften
    Five words that mean a family mourns
    Five Words......."The family have been informed".

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  • Comment number 53. Posted by U15034429

    on 14 Nov 2011 13:50

    This comment was removed because it broke the house rules. Explain

  • Comment number 52. Posted by Angel61

    on 14 Nov 2011 11:39

    I also wanted to pass on my admiration and gratitude Helena and Cyrus. I just happened to turn on the radio and was so very touched by everything Helena said. She is an amazing, brave and wonderful mother. She should be so proud to bring up such a warm, loving and caring family. Everybody who listened to that broadcast will forever remember Cyrus - he and his family have certainly made an impact in other peoples lives in a very positive way. I am in so much awe of Helena..I am a mother of a 21 year old son who is away at University and I miss him so much .. how mothers and families cope with their children in the armed forces I don't know. I just loved Cyrus's letter ... it was so touching, so well thought out and so meaningful ..certainly a letter to treasure. Cyrus you are one very special person and your family the best.

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  • Comment number 51. Posted by alexis

    on 12 Nov 2011 20:45

    I listen to a couple of the stories over the week and have just now caught up with the remaining ones. I was reduced to tears by them all and the bravery of the mothers of these dear beloved sons. I have a 20 year old son and just could not imagine the grief, as Helena said you worry each time your child goes out the door but to have a son in the army, well. RIP to all the brave boys

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  • Comment number 50. Posted by bowdid

    on 11 Nov 2011 22:43

    I have never been so moved by music as recalled by these brave mum's that had such strong emotional attachment for their son's. We should be proud not just for these mum's but all those who are out at this time be it brothers, sons fathers, nieces and mothers they all deserve our respect. Because what ever we are going through at this time is nothing compared to they are going through on a day to day basis, until they all get home safe.God Bless and RIP each and everyone of you that have not returned home safe.

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  • Comment number 49. Posted by steve w

    on 11 Nov 2011 21:28

    the only radio station i listen to in my 44 ton truck is radio 2,and this week has been no exception,hearing the stories and music of these brave lads from their mums has had me in tears everyday,my heart goes out to these wonderful mothers and also to everyone else who is closely connected to these fallen heros ,i have a 14yr old son and cannot begin to imagine what it would be like to lose him at the age of these brave lads ,and this is to the many mothers who are suffering the same heartache, but have been unable to tell their story with their sons music this week..RIP boys

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  • Comment number 48. Posted by Cookie

    on 11 Nov 2011 20:33

    I have managed to catch three of the five documentaries whilst driving between appointments and have been in tears each day. I can't imagine what it is like to have your child join the forces and worry every single day about them being safe. It was bad enough when my daughter left in August to go to college. I thought about these Mums and their children during the 2 minute silence today and about all the brave servicemen and women working in dangerous locations in wars we should not be involved in.

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  • Comment number 47. Posted by Sue

    on 11 Nov 2011 20:28

    I have never felt compelled to write about any programme until today. This week I have listened to very brave ladies talking about their boys with such pride and with so much emotion. When I picked my daughter up from school this afternoon and told her todays story about Richard, I actually cried whilst doing so. Well done Radio 2 for doing this, it has given many people a chance to reflect and to try and understand what our boys & girls are going through away from home and to their families they leave behind. On Remembrance Sunday I will be givings thanks to those who have fought and are fighting for our freedom.

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  • Comment number 46. Posted by Sharon

    on 11 Nov 2011 20:27

    I have just listened to the final programme and am profoundly moved by the dignity of these ladies and the love they have expressed for their fallen sons.
    Thank you to them for sharing such personal thoughts and allowing us an insight into their pain and pride.
    Today, I have stood in a school playground in silence with children who, even though very young, are ready to show respect for those who have given their lives.

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