The 2017 Soldiering On Award winners were announced on Friday 24th March at the Black Tie Dinner and Awards ceremony held at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel, London in the presence of the charity’s patron the Rt Hon Earl Howe PC.
550 Guests attended the Awards, hosted by award-winning journalist Angela Rippon and former Royal Marine medic Cassidy Little, the Awards ceremony recognized 46 finalists in 10 categories, naming each category winner.
The evening, opened by Soldiering On CEO Anne Donoghue, commenced with a minute’s silence in remembrance of PC Keith Palmer, formerly of the Royal Artillery, and all those killed and injured on the 22nd April.
Patron, Earl Howe stated that all Finalists were to be congratulated for reaching this stage; a theme that was endorsed throughout the evening, with Lord Dannatt declaring tonight’s winners to be “First among equals” as he congratulated all Finalists.
Entertainment was provided by the Scots Guards Pipes and Drums band and Beau Dermott, known by many for her success in Britain’s Got Talent.
In addition to recognising the Awards Category winners, Soldiering On also paid tribute to our World War 2 veterans, by honouring members from the Army, Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, Royal Marines and the Merchant Navy.
Broadcaster Mike Read led a tribute and the audience joined in singing “we’ll meet again” , sure to become a Soldiering On Anthem; in recognition also of 2016 Outstanding Contribution Award Winner Dame Vera Lynn, who celebrated her 100’th Birthday this week.
Soldiering On Chairman Wing Commander Tal Lambert MBE, led the audience in a toast to all of the 2017 Awards Winners.
Below are the details of the Soldiering On Awards winners. For full details and photographs of the evening, go to: http://www.soldieringon.org/the-awards-2017/
Watch this space for a link to our Awards Night video!
The 2017 Soldiering On Award Winners are:
Animal Partnership Award (sponsored by Pets at Home)
WINNER: Jock Hutchison & HorseBack UK – Jock Hutchison set up HorseBack UK when he was made aware of sixteen young marines that had been injured in Afghanistan. He thought it would be a great idea to get the lads up to the farm for a while to get them away from the clinical part of their recovery. Today, HorseBack UK is a unique charity delivering mental and physical rehabilitation to predominantly military personnel via horsemanship and outdoor activities.
People’s Choice Award (sponsored by the Sunday Express)
WINNER: Simon Brown – nominated by Blind Veterans UK, Simon had just successfully led a mission in Iraq to rescue six stranded colleagues when he was shot in the face by a sniper and had to be put into an induced coma, after initially giving himself first aid. Since his injury, Simon has dedicated himself to working with charitable and voluntary organisations and using his experience to motivate others. Thanks to his perseverance, good humour and positivity, many ex-Service men and women living with severe sight loss are receiving life-changing support today, no matter when they served or how they lost their sight.
Business Enterprise Award (sponsored by telent Technology Services)
Free to the entrepreneur, X-Forces offers budding businessmen and women from the armed forces community with comprehensive access to start up loans, mentoring and support. Working with Service leavers, reservists, spouses, dependents, veterans and cadets, they provide business planning support and mentoring even after the business is launched.
Family Values Award (sponsored by NetApp)
WINNER: Mr & Mrs J. Clayton
On many occasions Mr & Mrs Clayton have stepped in to look after their two grandchildren, when their daughter and her husband have deployed simultaneously or when service needs have required them to leave the family home. “There is no mechanism to recognise the unsung heroes (our families) that support us 24/7 and who are always there when we need them. Their loyal service, dedication and support allows us to serve our country.”
Healthcare & Rehabilitation Award (sponsored by Redwood Technologies Group)
WINNER: Mr Ash Clare
A founding architect of BattleBack, Ash has dedicated the last eight years supporting wounded, injured and sick personnel from across the Armed Forces, including the reserves. To date, the Battleback programme has supported over 1500 individuals through activities such as sailing, swimming, cycling, rock climbing, horse-riding, water-skiing and alpine skiing. Through the use of Adaptive Training and Sports as a vehicle for Rehabilitation, Battle Back programmes are designed to promote confidence and independence and help accelerate physical, psychological and social recovery throughout the duration of recovery.
Inspiration Award (sponsored by Skanska)
WINNER: Mr Adam Francis
Losing his legs to an IED in Afghanistan, Adam’s first goal when he woke in hospital was to get home to his family by Christmas. He continued to challenge himself, first walking within three months, then volunteering for experimental robotic prosthetics. Later he returned to his civilian job as an HGV driver, passing his test without the examiner’s awareness of his condition. Today his employer, impressed by his attitude and performance, invites Adam to speak to company employees as an inspiration to others
Sporting Excellence Individual Award (sponsored by Spectra Group UK)
INDIVIDUAL WINNER: Mr Owen Pick
Owen was a soldier who lost a leg in a Taliban blast in Afghanistan and now has become a competitive snowboard athlete. He tried out the sport after being discharged from the Army and within 18 months hurtled up the World rankings, beating experienced able-bodied competitors. Owen is now rated 7th in the World and is on target for a podium place in the 2018 Winter Paralympics in South Korea.
Sporting Excellence Group Award (sponsored by Spectra Group UK)
TEAM WINNER: Blesma Row2Recovery
In 2016 the Row2Recovery Atlantic Mission set a world record as the first all amputee crew to row across an ocean. The feat, which begun in La Gomera in the Canary Islands and finished in Antigua’s English Harbour, took 46 days, six hours and 49 minutes to complete. The team finished eighth out of 26 taking part in the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge after 1.4 million strokes pulled by 4 men with 3 legs across one ocean of 3,000 miles in 46 days to achieve this world record.
Forces in Mind Trust Working Together Award
WINNER: Forces Friends Project
Age UK Nottinghamshire has come together with The Royal British Legion in the East Midlands to develop the “Forces Friends” Project, a recipient of TRBL External Grant Funding. The project provides a volunteer visitor to befriend and support lonely or socially isolated older veterans living in Nottinghamshire. It provides a short-term intervention to help veterans to re-engage socially, develop their confidence and find out what is available to them within their wider local communities.
International Award (sponsored by Airbus Defence & Space)
WINNER: Project Gemini
Project Gemini was set up in 2011 for British and American former Service personnel who had lost their sight. Its objective is to share knowledge of rehabilitation and training and to strengthen relations between Blind Veterans UK and Blinded Veterans Association (BVA) as well as the veterans they support. Every year participants meet for a week in both the United Kingdom and the U.S., to take part in local activities, share stories, and learn from each other to improve the lives of blind veterans in both countries. It is the perfect example of international cooperation being fostered and grown to benefit both countries’ armed forces communities.
Lifetime Achievement Award (sponsored by Square Mile Salute and CSARN)
WINNER: Ms Meg Atkinson
A constant friendly face at RAF Brize Norton, Meg is a SASRA (Soldiers’ & Airmen’s Scripture Readers Association) Scripture Reader; the only Scripture Reader to wear the RAF’s light blue uniform as all other SASRA Scripture Readers work in army units. Regarded as a walking morale boost; Meg has been at Brize Norton since the closure of RAF Lyneham in 2011, where she had previously served since 1974 – 42 years (and counting) of faithful SASRA service to the RAF community.
Two additional awards were given on the night:
The first, in the Inspiration Award category for Outstanding Contribution, the Soldiering On Awards recognised Mr Simon Weston:
Struggling to overcome his injuries (46% burns), Simon endured years of re-constructive surgery following the attack on the Sir Galahad during the Falklands War. His road to recovery saw him active in a number of highly successful ventures and his tireless work for charity earned him an OBE in 1992. He was awarded Freedom of the City of Liverpool in 2002 in recognition of his bravery and his charity work in the region. He appeared in the Top 100 Merseysiders list in 2003 and was honoured as one of the top 100 Welsh Heroes in 2004. In 2015 Simon was awarded the Freedom of the City of London and in 2016 received a CBE for his charitable work. Simon’s message is one of single-minded determination, to not only accept what is, but to turn that to your advantage.
A Trustees Special Award, given at the discretion of the Soldiering On trustees, was presented to The Taylor Family:
Sixteen-year old George Taylor is a member of a very unique family, all dedicated to the supporting our military personnel past and present. Dad, Dave is a Poppy Appeal Organiser for Gravesend whilst Mum, Cheryl, sister Katie and Nan all support the legion in various ways including trialling a Veterans Breakfast Club in their local area. Every member of this family dedicates their time to support the RBL Poppy Appeal all year round.
“The Soldiering On Awards recognise the amazing contribution that former members of the Armed Forces – and animal partners – continue to make to society and also those individuals, charities and groups in the wider community who support their journey,” said Earl Howe. “We believe that we are all part of one community and are stronger together supporting each other.”