Lieutenant General Sir Gary Coward appointed as Chairman of SSAFA


SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, announces Lieutenant General Sir Gary Coward KBE CB as newly appointed Chairman of Council.

Sir Gary was initially commissioned into the Royal Artillery, serving in Germany and Northern Ireland. He trained as a pilot in 1978 serving in Germany, Hong Kong, Brunei and the UK, transferring to the Army Air Corps in 1983. As a Staff Officer, he has held posts on the British Army Staff in Washington, the Directorate of Army Aviation, the UN Protection Force in Sarajevo and the Chiefs of Staff Secretariat in the MOD. He commanded C Flight AAC in Brunei, 656 Squadron AAC in the UK and 1 Regiment AAC in Germany and the Balkans.

More recently Sir Gary served in the MOD as a Director of Equipment Capability responsible for amphibious shipping and helicopters, served twice in the Joint Helicopter Command as both Deputy Commander and Commander and enjoyed a short tour as the Chief of Staff (Joint Warfare Development) at the Permanent Joint Headquarters. In his final tour he was both Chief of Materiel (Land) and Quartermaster General. Sir Gary retired from the Army in October 2012.

Sir Gary’s wife Chrissie, a former primary teacher, has been a volunteer caseworker for SSAFA Somerset Branch for the last six years.

Commenting on his appointment, Sir Gary said:

“I am delighted to have been appointed as Chairman of Council for SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity, which has, for over 130 years, been assisting service personnel, veterans and their families. SSAFA provides vital support to some 60,000 people each year, thanks to the efforts of its committed employees and 6,500 dedicated volunteers. I am very much looking forward to my new role within this organisation.”

Sir Gary succeeds General Sir Kevin O’Donoghue KCB CBE as Chairman of Council for the Armed Forces charity. Sir Kevin is stepping down from his position of Chairman in March 2017, after seven years.

Sir Kevin was appointed as Chairman of SSAFA in April 2010 after retiring from the British Army. During Sir Kevin’s time as Chairman, SSAFA has conducted a comprehensive modernisation programme introducing a number of new services to meet the emerging needs of the Armed Forces community as well as significantly increasing the number of beneficiaries receiving vital help through its charitable services.

Sir Kevin said:

“It has been a privilege to hold the position of Chairman of SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity for the last seven years. I have been inspired by the tireless work of the charity’s network of volunteers as well as its committed and motivated staff.”

Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory, KBE, CB, Controller (CEO), SSAFA, said:

“SSAFA is delighted to welcome Sir Gary as our Chairman of Council. I look forward to working with him to ensure SSAFA continues to respond to the changing needs of the Armed Forces community and remains able to provide serving personnel, veterans and their families with support as and when it is needed. SSAFA would also like to thank Sir Kevin for his exceptional guidance and commitment over the last seven years as he has steered the organisation through a period of modernisation, encouraging and supporting it to evolve. We wish him every good fortune for the future.”

Alongside Sir Gary, current trustee Jonathan Jelley MBE JP has become Vice Chairman (Strategic Development).


Notes to Editor:

  • SSAFA, the Armed Forces charity (formerly known as the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen & Families Association), provides lifelong support to anyone who is currently serving or has ever served in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force including reservists, and their families.
  • Each year, our professional staff and network of more than 6,500 volunteers help some 60,000 people, ranging from World War Two veterans to the families of young servicemen and women wounded or killed in Afghanistan.

For more information visit and follow us on Twitter: @SSAFA

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