Dr Andy Kent – Chair of SSAFA Inverness-shire and Western Isles, and late of the Royal Army Medical Corps – was made an Officer of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours’ List for his humanitarian work particularly in Ukraine and during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Born in Malaya and raised in Fife, Andy retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel in 2002 to work in the Highlands at Raigmore Hospital where he has been based since, but in his Army years, he served as Regimental Medical Officer to the Gordon Highlanders (Fort George, South Georgia, Kenya, and West Belfast).
In more recent times, he has given more of his time to humanitarian work – mainly trauma training in low- and middle-income countries – working with UK-Med, the HALO Trust, WHO, The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (RCSEd) and the Primary Trauma Care Foundation, and has served in Beirut, Afghanistan, Yemen, Eswatini (formerly Swaziland), Somalia, Borneo, and Ukraine. Somehow, he also finds time to be club doctor for Highland RFC.
Describing himself as a “Jack of all trades, but master of none” Andy is keen to acknowledge the many people who have supported him to achieve an OBE, saying:
“In particular I must single out my wife, Jill, who has been my rock over the past 30 years. I met her while serving in Belize where she was volunteering as a teacher with a US charity.
“Another big shout out should go to Anna Masson, our Branch Administrator here in Inverness, who coincidentally is Belizean.”
Andy and Jill’s four children, like their parents, are already working overseas or have their careers horizons set abroad:
“One daughter studying for her PhD in Canada, another is teaching in Fiji; one son is doing his Royal Marine Officers’ Training at the Commando Training Centre in Devon, and my youngest son still at university where he is a Pilot Officer in the air squadron.”
Children leaving the nest, comments Andy, has freed up more time for him to pursue his humanitarian career, including with RCSEd.
“It’s recently established a Faculty of Remote, Rural & Humanitarian Healthcare in partnership with UK-Med and others. Our aim – I’m vice-chair of this faculty – is to provide an academic home for humanitarian healthcare workers from across the spectrum.”
Andy said his role with SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, began shortly before the pandemic, adding: “It’s been a rather difficult period, but I’ve been extremely well supported in this role by my branch volunteers – especially Anna – and the Scottish Regional Office.
“However, whatever the challenges, the rewards of volunteering for SSAFA – especially the satisfaction of helping ex-Service personnel and their families when they are struggling – are immeasurable.”
For more information – including how to volunteer for SSAFA or to access support from the UK’s oldest tri-service charity – visit www.ssafa.org.uk/scotland .