12 Dec 18
The Scottish Sun
THE Sun Military Awards are back to salute the finest Armed Forces in the world, who have again performed jaw-dropping heroics at home and around the globe.
Today we showcase the elite, shortlisted by judges from hundreds of readers’ nominations.
The Sun Military Awards are back to honour the selfless heroes who have gone beyond the call of duty
The winners, revealed tonight at Banqueting House in London, were picked by a judging panel of former top brass, Forces’ supporters and celebs.
One extra award, selected by the panel, will be unveiled at tonight’s ceremony.
Hero at home: unit
RAF Mountain Rescue Service: This year, the RAF Mountain Rescue Service celebrated 75 years of life-saving heroics.
It was created during World War Two to save downed aircrew in remote and inhospitable corners of the UK.
The RAF Mountain Rescue Service have responded to 66 call-outs this year, saving injured hikers and climbers and searching for missing people
Top brass were learning to their dismay that pilots were surviving the crash, then falling victim to the harsh environment – so the service was born.
During this year, the team of volunteers has responded to 66 call-outs.
They have come to the rescue of injured hikers and climbers, searched for missing people and responded to four aircraft crashes.
Today, the MRS is based at RAF Valley in Anglesey, RAF Lossiemouth in Moray and RAF Leeming in North Yorks, supporting police forces on tough rescue missions.
The officer commanding the unit, Squadron Leader Simon Moore, 55, who is based at RAF Valley, said: “Our primary role is recovering aircrew from downed aircraft all over the UK.
“Luckily, aircraft crashes are rare so we fulfil a secondary role supporting the police looking for missing people in the mountains.
“The guys really enjoy the challenges of the rescue.
“It’s a privilege to do the job. I think I command one of the best organisations in the UK military.”
Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron: It is one of the oldest squadrons in the Royal Navy but the incredible work often goes unseen.
The Fishery Protection Squadron is charged with keeping 80,000 square miles of UK sea safe from illegal fishing, drug smuggling and human trafficking.
The Royal Navy Fishery Protection Squadron keeps 80,000 square miles of UK sea safe from illegal fishing, drug smuggling and human trafficking
Proud Commander Sarah Oakley, 45, who leads the 400-strong operation, said: “People think all we do is fishery protection but that’s not true at all.
“Our main role is maritime security and protection of UK territorial waters, but the variety of tasking is immense.”
The team scored a major victory by helping to secure the conviction this year of a group of scavengers plundering a World War One wreck for scrap metal.
The crew of HMS Severn intercepted Dutch-registered salvage ship Friendship, which was lifting £90,000 of steel and copper from the depths in 2016.
The metal had been stripped from the wreck of the SS Harrovian, sunk by a German submarine 80 miles southwest of the Scilly Isles in 1916.
In August the thieves were fined nearly £250,000 thanks to the sterling work of HMS Severn.
Cdr Oakley, who is based at Portsmouth, said: “People don’t realise what we’re doing and think, ‘Who’s looking after our waters?’ Well we are, we do it all the time.”
Joint CBRN Task Force: Britain was rocked this year when Russian military spies used nerve agent Novichok in an assassination attempt on a former comrade.
The attack on Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, Wilts, would send shock waves around the world.
The Joint CBRN Task Force were sent to clean-up after the Novichok attack in Salisbury this year
The Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Task Force was sent in on clean-up duties – the like of which had never been seen before.
The mission is ongoing and so far 1,200 troops from the Army and RAF have been drafted in.
Group Captain Jason “Chez” Davies, the officer commanding the task force, said: “The first thing we thought about was the safety envelope for our guys to operate in, and delivering Salisbury back to a state where people aren’t getting harmed. It was a huge job.”
Just two milligrams of the agent can be fatal, yet the area the military were asked to clear was huge.
Group Captain Davies, who helped co-ordinate the mission from the HQ at Winterbourne Gunner, Wilts, added: “We had never come across anything like this before.
“We’re used to operating overseas as part of a battlefield rather than downtown Salisbury.”
Praising troops, he said: “The teams were doing everything they could to get Salisbury back up and running as soon as they could.”
Hero at home: individual
CSgt Derek Simpson, 4 Scots: In June, Saddleworth Moor was at the mercy of a rampaging wildfire that covered an area of seven square miles at its height.
Overwhelmed fire chiefs in Greater Manchester who were tackling the blaze were forced to call in the Army for support.
Colour Sergeant Derek Simpson led his teams to tackle the rampaging wildfire in Greater Manchester
At the heart of the Herculean response was Colour Sergeant Derek Simpson, 40, a dad of three from Edinburgh. With just a day’s notice, he was deployed to the scene with 100 fellow soldiers of 4 Scots. Their mission was to beat out the fire, dig vast trenches to halt the spread of the flames and haul heavy kit across the moor to aid beleaguered firemen.
The fire started on June 24 and lasted more than three weeks. Homes were evacuated and thousands of people were warned to keep doors and windows closed. In the chaos CSgt Simpson, left, operated his teams with skill and professionalism – ensuring they were always on hand to battle back the uncontrolled blaze.
He said: “At one point it was 50 metres away from houses and we knew it was getting out of hand. My role was controlling the troops. We had to beat the fires, dig holes, dig trenches, roll out kilometres of fire hose and lug generators up hills. We had to do all the jobs the fire service would have taken a long time to do. The guys got right in about it. The fire service couldn’t have been happier we were there.”
Comrades hailed the soldier for his command, but he said: “I was just doing my job.” Despite the best efforts of fire crews, the blaze reignited a number of times because of high winds and the Army’s mission got extended twice. What was supposed to be five days of extra support turned into two weeks on the Moor for CSgt Simpson and his troops.
He added: “We knew it was coming, we knew it was getting out of hand.”
Cdr Andrew Parkinson, CO, Navy Combined Cadet Force: What should have been a quiet birthday in July turned into a life or death struggle for Commander Andy Parkinson.
The 55-year-old was spending the day on his boat, moored on the River Hamble in Southampton, when he heard a scream followed by a splash.
Commander Andy Parkinson saved Linda Davies when he saw her unconscious and lifeless in the water
Racing above deck, the sea survival instructor with the Navy Combined Cadet Force, saw a motor boat drifting in the rapid spring tide.
He headed over to the boat and saw a woman’s hair floating on the surface – but her head was submerged.
Cdr Parkinson tried to pull her free but soon realised a lifejacket was wedging her under the boat’s hull.
So he dived in and positioned himself between the drowning woman and the boat, forcing her head out of the water.
He said: “She was unconscious and lifeless. I knew if I let her go we would be recovering a body.”
Cdr Parkinson then cut the woman free before using a rope as a harness to haul her out of the water.
He added: “I performed an abdominal squeeze – where I pressed both thumbs into her belly button – and managed to expel a lot of water out of her nose and mouth.”
Within minutes, Linda Davies had come around. Cdr Parkinson had saved her life.
As the paramedics arrived at the scene, his phone rang.
Cdr Parkinson, said: “It was my wife, who was serving as a military steward at Wimbledon, and she was phoning to wish me a happy birthday.
“I told her I had been involved in saving someone’s life. Without skipping a beat, she said, ‘Well done you, give me a call when it all calms down’.”
Lt Col Craig Palmer, Royal Artillery: When a teenage terrorist tried to blow up a packed Tube train, everyone fled except Lieutenant Colonel Craig Palmer.
The 49-year-old war veteran and dad-of- three from Stockton-on-Tees, Co Durham, charged down the platform at Parsons Green station in South West London to investigate.
Lieutenant Colonel Craig Palmer confronted a teenage terrorist when everyone fled the packed Tube station
He said: “I saw a flash and I heard a scream. People were then trying to get past me to the exit. In the first couple of moments, people were just running and trying to get away. My military instinct was to turn and face. I wasn’t going to turn my back on what was happening down there. I dug my heels in and faced it.”
The soldier, who was working in London at the time, was on the very next carriage to the blast, which happened in September last year.
But despite the danger and the risk of a second device – or confronting the bomber himself – he walked towards the device.
Lt Col Palmer said: “I felt a chill and shiver. I knew this was my worst fear. This was an IED.”
Despite the danger, he took a series of pictures, including some directly over the partially exploded device, before calling police with a detailed incident report.
It was crucial in giving police early and accurate detail so they could hunt down and capture Ahmed Hassan, then 18, who is now serving life for the atrocity that injured around 50 people.
Lt Col Palmer, who also gave evidence at the Old Bailey trial, said: “Getting that report early to police helped them get on the front foot. That’s why I took those steps to help the police hunt the guy down.”
Cpl Isabell Hutchinson: As Corporal Isabell Hutchinson drove out of a multi-storey car park, she spotted a girl sitting alone.
Something did not seem right. Unable to shake the feeling, she stopped the car at the barriers and went back to investigate.
Corporal Isabell Hutchinson used her military training to save a girl’s life
Those instincts proved right. The 29-year-old reservist with 299 Parachute Squadron, Royal Engineers, found a teenager preparing to take her own life.
Now she needed every ounce of her military training to save her.
The mum-of-one from Sutton-in-Craven, North Yorks, who has a full-time job as an HR executive, said: “She didn’t want to be here and her only way of getting away from whatever it was, was to jump.”
But as Isabell tried to calm the girl down, a small crowd gathered and the teen got more agitated.
Isabell, who was shopping in Poole, Dorset, while visiting her husband in June, added: “I wasn’t just dealing with her, I was dealing with the crowd.”
Thanks to her military training, Isabell controlled the group with quiet authority before talking the girl away from danger.
She said: “I wanted to show her some compassion so she knew someone was bothered about what she did.
“That is the most scared I have been. But being able to control the situation and have the guts to go to her, I think that’s when my military background came in the most.”
WO Gary Edwards: Warrant Officer Gary Edwards has not only served on the front line – he has dedicated his life to vital historical restoration projects.
The ex-RAF policeman, 52, from Swindon, is now a full-time reservist specialising in training evaluation.
Warrant Officer Gary Edwards has dedicated his life to vital historical restoration projects
But his passion for history is firing the imagination of colleagues and the next generation of servicemen and women.
The accredited battlefield tour guide, who fell in love with history watching black-and-white war films as a child, helped restore Admiral Bertram Ramsay’s D-Day map so it can be displayed again.
He is now based at RAF Halton, Bucks, and has helped restore and maintain World War One trenches that were dug in 1915 to train troops heading to the Western Front.
Thousands of schoolchildren, cadets and veterans can visit the trenches thanks to his work.
WO Edwards, who served in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Iraq and four tours of Afghanistan, said: “We travelled the world and I always read up on the history of that location.
“It developed and overtook me. The military history fascinated me. We have traditions and we have legacies we must uphold. A hundred years ago, you had servicemen who gave their lives in World War One. If I can’t give a little bit of time back to educate today’s young people, then something’s gone wrong.”
LCpl Benedict Kessie: Benedict Kessie’s decision to put his career as a digital marketing executive on hold has taken him all over the world.
Last year, the full-time reservist with the Royal Marines on Merseyside was in action in the Caribbean, when Hurricane Irma caused devastation on British territories.
Benedict Kessie was serving with the Royal Marines when Hurricane Irma hit the Caribbean
Lance Corporal Kessie, 27, from Huddersfield, who first volunteered to serve in 2014, said: “I joined 40 Commando on a Tuesday. Eight hours later, on the Wednesday, I was off to the Caribbean.
“I had just come back from a deployment in Norway doing Arctic warfare and I deployed to the Caribbean with my winter socks.
“That was how fast-paced the turnaround was.”
He and his comrades were the first on to the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands and last ones out. He said: “It was chaotic to say the least.
“Buildings were destroyed and cars and trucks were everywhere. People were just wandering around trying to gather their possessions.”
He set up patrols to stop looting, found prisoners after the prison was damaged and distributed aid.
LCpl Kessie, said: “I went in wanting to show that even as a reservist I’m no different to my counterparts. It’s very humbling to be nominated. On a bigger scale, it represents the efforts of any gallant Royal Marines reservist.”
Hero overseas: unit
HMS Daring Royal Navy: Warship HMS Daring this year went on her most perilous mission when she sailed through the Gulf of Aden amid conflict.
The operation was launched to patrol the narrow Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and keep international shipping flowing to Britain and the rest of the world.
Warship HMS Daring sailed through the Gulf of Aden amid conflict, operating in a high-threat area
It was carried out as war between Saudi Arabia and Iranian-backed Houthi rebels raged in Yemen.
The crew spent 50 days operating in the high-threat area, at times within reach of sophisticated anti-ship missiles aimed directly at them.
HMS Daring spent 97 hours at “action stations”, with all the crew on watch as they escorted more than 800,000 tonnes of shipping.
Commander Philip Dennis, said: “On a couple of occasions we detected transmissions from surveillance radars, so there was a very high possibility we were being targeted by the Houthis.
“We were seeing aircraft flying overhead and weapons going off ashore. But there were no ‘rabbits in headlights’. My guys were at the top of their game. We felt immensely proud of what we were doing.”
HMS Daring and her 160-strong crew also had to deal with the threat of water-borne IEDs used by the rebels on international vessels.
Cdr Dennis said: “This was probably the greatest threat a RN warship has come under since the early days of the Libyan conflict.”
Project Beekeeper: Soldiers sent in to combat African poachers faced the heartbreaking sight of a snared baby elephant.
The helpless calf was found in Malawi, where 18 soldiers were deployed this year on Project Beekeeper – the mission to train rangers to beat the illegal hunters.
This year soldiers were deployed on Project Beekeeper to train rangers to beat illegal hunters
Queen’s Dragoon Guards Captain James Cowen, 29, from Northumberland, led the outfit.
He said: “We came across the baby elephant that had been caught in a wire snare. It was barbaric. It had dug really far into its leg. If we hadn’t got to that elephant, it would have surely died within days. Luckily, that elephant is back with its herd and recovering well.
“It was incredibly satisfying work. The rangers are the true unsung heroes here. They just hoovered up everything we had to say. They are genuinely passionate about doing something to stop this and it was humbling to play a tiny part in that.” The troops passed on crucial soldiering skills to protect wildlife. But another major reason for the mission is that the poaching industry is worth up to £23billion a year – a top-five organised crime revenue stream.
That in turn can fund drugs, people trafficking and even terrorism.
Capt Cowen added: “We wanted to leave the rangers with an edge over the poachers who are coming into their parks.”
31 Squadron, RAF: In April, the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons on innocent people in Syria had raised global tensions to fever pitch.
But the international response could not provoke major world powers into open conflict.
No 31 Squadron worked with US and French allies to launch a co-ordinated strike on a chemical weapons facility in Homs
The stakes could not have been higher and there was zero room for error. In secret, a plan was drawn up with No 31 Squadron, the Tornado force then based in Cyprus.
Working with US and French allies, four jets would launch a co-ordinated strike on a chemical weapons facility in Homs.
At 2am on April 14, they struck with devastating effect.
Flying outside Syrian airspace, the jets launched an aerial barrage that was over in 120 seconds – but dealt a lasting blow to Assad’s illegal chemical weapons operation.
Wing Commander Matt Bressani, 42, said: “This is what we train for.
“From my perspective, in that period of days before this mission, it was an honour to be a squadron commander. It was outstanding.”
The squadron worked around the clock for days to formulate the plan, switching from dropping bombs on Iraq and Syria to launching cruise missiles at range.
Matt, said: “There is no doubt we all knew this was going to be a big event, this was not the norm. Once we had the orders we were going to go, a bit of me was saying, ‘Wow, this is big’.”
[boxout headline=”Innovation” featured-image=”3617420″]Science and Tech Lab: A brilliant team of government scientists has become the first in the world to unlock the key to preventing sepsis deaths.
After a decade of work, the experts from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory in Salisbury, Wilts, have found the killer bacteria’s genetic “signature”.
This is the first step to finding a way to stop the infection before it takes hold.
Gp Capt Rayna Owens: For the last seven years of her illustrious RAF career, Group Captain Rayna Owens has gone beyond the skies to work on space projects.
And since July she has been at the forefront of the team creating Carbonite-2, the world’s first satellite to deliver real-time colour video to the cockpits of fighter pilots.
WO2 Paul Anderson: Genius engineer, Warrant Officer Class 2 Paul Anderson, has taken old radios and unwanted phones to create a cutting-edge piece of kit that gives fighting troops the edge.
The Royal Marine, who used to clear landmines, helped to invent a revolutionary device that allows troops to see each other on a screen as dots – just like they do in computer game Call Of Duty.
It could mean the end of radioing grid references and looking at maps in the midst of battles.[/boxout]
Hero overseas: individual
Queen’s Dragoon Guards soldiers: A weekend in Las Vegas became a nightmare for six soldiers from the Queen’s Dragoon Guards when they were caught up in the worst mass shooting in modern US history.
They were relaxing after a military exercise when gunman Stephen Paddock opened fire at a concert.
The Queen’s Dragoon Guards were caught up in the Las Vegas shooting – the worst mass shooting in modern US history
The massacre on October 1, 2017, left 58 people dead and more than 500 people injured as Paddock unleashed 1,100 rounds from a balcony at the nearby Mandalay Bay Hotel before shooting himself.
The off-duty lads treated some of the injured and led others to safety.
Trooper Ross Woodward, from Beeston, Notts, who received the Queen’s Commendation For Bravery last month after he “repeatedly advanced towards danger” during the massacre, said: “It was just instinctive to help people.
“It felt the right thing to do at the time. If I was injured, I wouldn’t want people to run past me.”
The off-duty soldiers treated the injured and led some survivors to safety
Tpr Stuart Finlay, from Dawlish, Devon, went to the aid of a girl shot in the back, before helping another woman with a broken leg.
Lance Corporal Chris May, from Bognor Regis, West Sussex, helped an elderly man shot in the arm, then the injured man’s wife who was hit in the leg.
Meanwhile, Tpr James Astbury, Tpr Zak Davidson and LCpl Dean Priestley were in a hotel when a crowd of people ran in to the restaurant.
The trio went to the foyer as a large number of people, including some injured, burst through and yelled a shooter was coming. All three then helped the injured.
Tpr Astbury, from Ruthin, Denbighshire, aided a woman who had been shot in her cheek and leg.
The six soldiers were phoned individually by their commanding officer, Lieutenant Colonel Justin Stenhouse, the day after the tragedy and offered all the help they needed.
Tpr Finlay said: “We all feel proud to be nominated for The Sun’s award. It is great to be put forward.”
LMA Roxanne Starsmeare, Royal Navy: Dedicated Roxanne Starsmeare has been at the forefront of care for more than 6,000 migrants rescued in the Mediterranean.
She is one of the medical team aboard survey ship HMS Echo, which has been patrolling the Med since 2016 and saving people in death-trap boats.
Roxanne Starsmeare has cared for more than 6,000 migrants who were rescued in the Mediterranean
Leading Medical Assistant Starsmeare, 33, from Taunton, Somerset, has responded to many “mass casualty” situations, caring for pregnant woman, new-born babies, the sick and injured.
She said: “I always describe myself as a cross between a nurse and a paramedic.
“Every pick-up was different. You never knew what you were getting.
“We’ve had pregnant women and young children. The youngest was just seven days old. When you’re dealing with them, you don’t really think about it.
“Your adrenaline is going and you’re just doing your job. It’s when you disembark them that you get to sit down and think, ‘Oh my God, that just happened’.”
Dehydration, hypothermia, fuel burns and “secondary drowning” from sea spray getting into lungs were all common problems suffered by the migrants.
But despite it all, LMA Starsmeare, said: “The good times outweigh the bad times we have had.
“It’s nice to see you have helped – not just the medical team but the whole ship’s company.”
LCpl Connor Roe, 21 Signal Regiment, REME: Hero Connor Roe was part of the dramatic rescue mission that saved 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded Thailand cave this summer.
The group of boys and their coach were exploring the caves when a storm caused the passageways to flood, trapping them inside.
Connor Roe was part of the rescue mission that saved 12 boys and their football coach from a flooded Thailand cave
They had spent nine days in the cave when they were discovered on July 2.
Lance Corporal Roe, a cave-diving expert who goes into claustrophobic depths for fun, headed to the scene as the perilous rescue was about to be launched.
As the world watched, 13 divers were positioned along three stations on the dangerous route out.
LCpl Roe, 26, from Axbridge, Somerset, operated in Chamber 5, a flooded cave and relay point.
He and his dive partner would check their gear before swimming the boys 200 metres to the next relay point. It took three days to get everyone to safety.
LCpl Roe, said: “It was getting desperate. It was clear the only option was to dive the boys out and we were very concerned about how much rain was following. I never felt there was no hope but I definitely felt that perhaps a miracle would be needed at some point.
“It was a privilege to be involved in it. To have such a positive outcome overall is just fantastic. You couldn’t have dreamed for a better result.”
Staff Sgt Danny Knox: Staff Sergeant Danny Knox got career-threatening injuries during a night-combat assault exercise.
He was driving a truck in a convoy transporting bridging equipment in Germany last October when it crested a hill.
Staff Sergeant Danny Knox returned full-time to the Army within months of sustaining career-threatening injuries
When another lorry slammed on the brakes, it caused a concertina effect and Danny crashed into the vehicle in front, crushing his leg and leaving a gaping wound.
Staff Sgt Knox, of 13 Air Assault Squadron, Royal Logistic Corps, had to be cut free after 45 minutes pinned in the vehicle.
The 34-year-old dad of three from Dunbar, East Lothian, said: “All you could see from my kneecap down to my ankle was claret (blood). I realised I was in a in a bad way.
“The next day, the surgeon came in and gave me a breakdown of everything that happened in my leg, and basically they were telling me I’d be lucky if I walked properly again.”
After two weeks in Germany, he was flown back to the UK for further surgery. But when he went to see medical officers to assess his ability to carry on in work, they said he would have to quit the Army.
He said: “The exact words were, ‘Your career is finished, you’re done’. I thought, ‘I’m not having it’.”
Within months he had returned full-time.
On being nominated for a Millie, Staff Sgt Knox said: “I just did what I needed to do to get back to work.”
Former LBdr Robert Long: Former Lance Bombardier Robert Long was blinded when a comrade was hit by a buried bomb in Afghan hellhole Sangin.
The nearby blast was so powerful it also split his helmet in two.
Former Lance Bombardier Robert Long was blinded by a buried bomb but went on to discover his love of martial art jiu-jitsu and competed in the Para World Championships
The dad-of-one, who served with 473 Special Observation Battery, went from being an elite member of a fabled surveillance unit to being robbed of his independence.
Rob, 31, from South East London, said: “I need help with everything. If I go somewhere new I might as well have landed on the moon. I went from being a frontline soldier during the height of the war to not being able to go anywhere without a family member assisting me. It was like being a child again. That journey over the last eight years has been regaining who I once was.”
Crucial to his remarkable recovery was his discovery of martial art jiu-jitsu.
The sport has allowed him to show what his pals and loved ones have known all along – that he has the heart of a champion.
Rob’s performances in competitions caught the attention of Team GB selectors – and this year he won gold at the Para World Jiu-Jitsu Championships in the UAE.
He added: “When I’m on the mats either training or competing, I don’t feel blind, I feel the same as I did before I lost my sight. in short jiu-jitsu has given me my pride back.”
Former SAC David Atkin: A freak accident in Afghanistan robbed Senior Aircraftsman David Atkin of his career – and plunged him into the depths of depression.
But thanks to the Invictus Games for injured veterans, he has battled back to health.
Senior Aircraftsman David Atkin crushed his spine in an accident, but battled back to health thanks to the Invictus Games
The ex-RAF Regiment soldier, 29, from London, crushed his spine in February 2010 during an accident on patrol in Kandahar.
He said: “As we went over a steep culvert, the vehicle went up in the air and as it bounced back down, it crushed my spine.”
One vertebrae suffered a compression fracture and another was crushed.
After four operations he had his spine fused and it was supported by metal rods. David, was discharged in 2011 and went on a “downward spiral”.
But last year he was inspired by Prince Harry’s closing speech at the Invictus Games in Toronto, and decided to get involved. He eventually joined the team for this year’s games in Sydney, in which he competed in sprints, power lifting and rowing.
He said: “It’s been the gym and the focus on Invictus that has got me through it all.
“I feel good about myself now. Going to Sydney was unbelievable. Sprinting in front of more than 8,000 people was life-changing. I will never forget it.”
[boxout headline=”Support to the armed forces” featured-image=”3617421″]There but not there: Iconic commemoration will be the abiding concluding image of a moving year marking the centenary of the end of World War One.
Statues of Tommies, made by veterans, sprang up around the country.
But the ghostly soldiers were not only a stunning artistic salute to the sacrifice in the Great War – they also raised vital funds after being bought by members of the public.
Give Us Time: Big-hearted charity Give Us Time was founded in 2012 to give much-needed holidays to service families going through hard times.
It was founded by former Defence Secretary Dr Liam Fox and has forged close working relationships with travel companies and holiday -home owners to secure free breaks.
Since October 2015, more than 350 families have benefited from the charity’s work, enjoying time off in 13 countries.
Techvets: Techvets is on a mission to get veterans into cyber security – and is having a dramatic impact.
It was set up in March by Mark Milton, Euan Crawford, Peter Connolly and Mike Butcher, four entrepreneurial friends who found veterans’ potential in the blossoming industry was being missed.
It also holds networking events to allow ex-service personnel to meet potential employers.[/boxout]
Maj Scotty Mills, Royal Marines: When the England football team surged to the semi-finals of the World Cup this summer, the nation knew something in the team had changed.
No longer cowed by crippling pressure to deliver, this new young team and their bright young manager had steel and a backbone that had been missing for decades.
Major Scotty Mills trained the England football team before the World Cup this summer
The difference? Major Scotty Mills and the Royal Marines.
Before the tournament the squad, visited the Royal Marines at their base in Lympstone, Devon, for a weekend training like elite Commandos – with no access to phones or their watches.
Their mission was to glean some of the team ethos that has made the Royal Marines one of the most feared fighting units in the world.
Scotty, 51, is head of physical training for the Royal Marines and was charged with formulating a training plan.
The married dad-of-four, from Peckham, South East London, said: “There are a lot of crossovers and it’s not just what you think, like leadership and teamwork. It’s a whole host of other things.”
And the diehard England fan added: “As we all know, they have suffered cataclysmically from fear of failure, year after year with all the pressure that’s been piled on them.
“We wanted to put them in situations where they weren’t being asked as an individual to get through what we were doing with them, they had to work as a team. We said to them, ‘Like you, we are extremely proud to represent our nation, we take being ambassadors extremely seriously. You’ve got a weight of expectation to bring back some glory – well, we’ve got a weight of expectation to defend our nation’. “There’s a huge amount of scrutiny about how we behave on and off the battlefield. The consequences of failure for a Marine are death and injury for me or the Marines under my command. So a little bit of perspective was used.
“We took them out of their comfort zones and put them under a bit of pressure in an alien environment. They were trying to build resilience, foster a team culture, build an esprit de corps.”
And the relationships forged during that weekend endured. Right through the tournament, Scotty and England manager Gareth Southgate, stayed in touch, as did the young Marines and Three Lions players.
It did the trick. England banished their demons, won a penalty shoot-out and captured the hearts of a nation.
Scotty, said: “It’s worked, it’s working and if they carry on like they’re doing then I expect great things for the future.”
Capt Jennifer Kehoe, Royal Engineers: Army skier and Afghan veteran Jen Kehoe is one half of Britain’s most successful Winter Paralympic skiing duo.
She is the guide to blind Alpine sensation Menna Fitzpatrick, 20, from Macclesfield, Cheshire.
Jen Kehoe guides the blind Alpine sensation Menna Fitzpatrick, who this year became Britain’s most successful Winter Paralympian
Since joining forces in 2015, they have taken the sport by storm.
Captain Kehoe, 35, from Bournemouth, said: “We trust each other 100 per cent and we have a lot of fun together.
“It’s really fun to work with her, and not just push the boundaries in what disabled people can do but in terms of what sportspeople can do.”
In a series of downhill disciplines, Menna follows just two metres behind Jen at speeds of more than 62mph, with Jen calling out directions as they go.
This year Menna – with Jen at her side – became Britain’s most successful Winter Paralympian after picking up a gold, two silvers and a bronze in South Korea.
Menna said: “The military and especially the Royal Engineers have been so supportive of us.
“I couldn’t do it without Jen and I couldn’t do it without the Army.”
Wing Cdr Kevin Gatland, RAF Marham: As aircraft soared overhead in precise formations, the Queen beamed with delight from the balcony of Buckingham Palace.
The epic fly-past in July was the crowning moment of a year of celebrations to mark 100 years since the creation of the RAF.
Wing Commander Kevin Gatland worked for 11 months, planning how 103 choppers, historic planes and stealth jets could fly over London in perfect procession
But perhaps the person most delighted to watch the spectacle unfold without a hitch – after the Queen – was 37-year-old Wing Commander Kevin Gatland.
He had worked for 11 months meticulously planning how 103 choppers, historic planes and stealth jets could fly over London in perfect procession.
Wing Cdr Gatland said: “One of the complexities is making sure each of the aircraft’s timings and heights is exact, because if they stray off five seconds plus or minus either way then they could be affecting the aircraft behind.
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“I don’t know how many millions of pounds of plane we had in the air, but it was impressive.”
Once they were all over Buckingham Palace, the aircraft had to split off from the formation safely.
He added: “It genuinely brought a lump to my throat, hearing the reaction from the crowds, seeing the incredible flying accuracy of all of the crews, showcasing the air force at its best.”
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