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The Sun Military Awards 2018 reward armed forces heroes

News Group Newspapers Ltd

The Millies congratulate winners for feats of courage and sacrifice with a glittering awards ceremony at Banqueting House. The Sun Military Awards 2018 – known as the Millies – have recognised the true excellence of the UK’s armed forces with a star-studded ceremony at London’s Banqueting House. The 11th annual ceremony awarded prizes to winners from the Royal Navy, Army and RAF, recognising remarkable feats of bravery, sacrifice and selflessness.


Six members of 1st The Queen’s Dragoon Guards won the Hero Overseas award for their lifesaving first aid response during the Las Vegas shooting last year, where 59 people lost their lives. The young soldiers bravely stepped in and used their battlefield training to aid the emergency services. England manager Gareth Southgate attended the awards ceremony to present the Inspiring Others award to Major Scott Mills of the Royal Marines, who helped prepare the England men’s football team ahead of their historic World Cup campaign this year.


Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, who hosted the nominees at a reception at 10 Downing Street ahead of the awards show, said:

It was a great honour to attend The Sun Military Awards and congratulate so many of the winners and nominees in person. The incredible stories told tonight show how our armed forces protect British people and our interests at home and abroad.

Whether by rescuing civilians from conflict, helping Salisbury recover from a reckless chemical attack or standing up to the appalling use of chemical weapons in Syria, tonight’s nominees have shown the brilliance and bravery of our armed forces. I’m grateful to The Sun for helping the whole country congratulate these remarkable serving personnel and those who support them in their vital work.


Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier accepted the Judges’ Award for Special Recognition on behalf of the Royal Air Force for RAF100 and its success in celebrating the RAF’s centenary year. The nominees rubbed shoulders with famous faces on the red carpet, including armed forces supporters Nick Knowles, Bear Grylls and Dame Kelly Holmes and sports stars Victoria Pendleton, Amy Williams and Thom Evans. Television stars Georgia Toffolo, Emily Atack and Vicky Pattison also attended to show their support.

The winners of The Sun Military Awards 2018 are:

Hero at Home – Individual

Commander Andrew Parkinson – for rescuing a woman trapped underwater beneath a yacht in a Hampshire marina

Hero at Home – Unit

Joint Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Task Force – for their response to the Salisbury attack

Hero Overseas – Individual

Lance Corporal Chris May, Troopers Stuart Finlay, Ross Woodward, James Astbury, Zak Davidson and Dean Priestley – for their medical response to the Las Vegas shooting, the deadliest mass shooting in American history

Hero Overseas – Unit

HMS Daring – for withstanding danger and aggression guarding vital shipping routes around the world

Best Reservist

Corporal Isabell Hutchinson – for sensitively preventing a young woman from taking her own life

Inspiring Others

Major Scott Mills – for his training of the England men’s football team ahead of the 2018 World Cup

Overcoming Adversity

Robert Long – for his success in Jiu-Jitsu since being blinded by an IED in Afghanistan

Innovation Award

Defence Science and Technology Laboratory – for its work on a sepsis diagnosis breakthrough

Support to the Armed Forces

There But Not There – for its success in commemorating the First World War and raising money for service charities

Judges’ Award for Special Recognition

RAF100 – for its success in celebrating the centenary of the Royal Air Force and inspiring a new generation


Plan for ‘sacred path’ to run along western front

The entente between Britain and France may not be quite as cordiale as it used to be, but the 2018 centenary of the end of the First World War has inspired a unique cross-Channel initiative to commemorate the western front that once divided Europe to horrific effect. A two-year campaign to create a 450-mile memorial pathway that would trace the front lines of some of the bloodiest battles of the Great War has begun to attract wider European support, with French and Belgian officials signalling their interest in the project.

Sacred Path

A new charity, the Western Front Way, has for formal approval by European governments for a tree-lined via sacra (sacred path) that would stretch from the Belgian coast at Nieuwpoort, between Dunkirk and Ostend, to the Swiss border at Pfetterhouse, 25 miles west of Basel. Along the way it would pass the battlefields of Ypres, Arras and Verdun and many other museums, cemeteries and gardens dedicated to the conflict in which nearly 20m people died.


Led by Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor of Buckingham University, and Jean-Paul Mulot, a former managing editor of the Paris-based Le Figaro newspaper, the charity hopes to fulfil the vision of Alexander Douglas Gillespie, a young British Army officer who was killed at the Battle of Loos in 1915. In a letter to his former headmaster at Winchester College, Gillespie wrote shortly before he died that when peace came he would like to send “every man, woman and child in western Europe” on a pilgrimage along the front lines “so they might think and learn about what war means from the silent witnesses on either side”. He proposed “one long avenue . . . from the Vosges to the sea. I would make a fine broad road in the ‘no man’s land’ between the lines, with paths for pilgrims on foot and plant trees for shade and fruit”.


Seldon led a walk along sections of the proposed route in the summer of 2016, attracting support from several British celebrities, including the actors Dominic West, Cherie Lunghi and Elizabeth Hurley. The project’s main challenge was to try to arouse enthusiasm across the Channel at a time when any British initiative was being viewed — for the most part sourly — through a Brexit lens. “One of our main concerns was that it not be just an Anglo project, in which case it would probably never happen,” said Rory Forsyth, 32, chief executive of the charity and who also runs an events company.


After Mulot became the project’s “torchbearer in France”, there were talks with the Belgian ambassador in Britain. The charity also met a Flanders representative before Christmas. It has put out feelers to German officials as well. “We didn’t want to make a lot of noise without Belgian and French support,” Forsyth said. “But we have obviously got to make the most of the 100th anniversary.” In the short term the group hopes to focus on existing pathways that can be easily marked as part of the project and gradually linked up. “The initial costs are quite light and the markers we put up and the trees we plant could be sponsored,” said Forsyth, who noted that the project was the “ultimate counter” to any Brexit-related animosity. “It’s quite a harmonious thing,” he said. “We are hoping to build paths, not walls.”

Reproduced from The Times


The Evolution of Veterans Care

The last 15 years have seen increased survivability of military casualties. Many will need physical and mental healthcare support for the rest of their lives. There is pressure on the NHS to provide cohesive and specialised veteran care. However, veterans and healthcare professionals are sometimes unclear what veterans are entitled to and what additional NHS services are available. This article outlines what is required, what the expectations are and what the NHS provides.

Armed Forces Covenant / NHS Constitution

These critical policies stress that all should not be disadvantaged from accessing appropriate health services. The former states that veterans are entitled to ‘priority treatment for any health condition so long as it relates to their time in service and is subject to the clinical needs of others’. The challenge for those delivering healthcare is that these statements are open to interpretation. What is service related? What is priority care? Should a wounded veteran receive care ahead of an injured fireman or nurse? Managing expectations on all sides is vital. Visit here for more information.

What veterans can expect

There is a wide spectrum of expectations from veterans, ranging from a reluctance to be identified as veterans, to the idea that veteran status propels them to the front of the queue. It’s very important that veterans understand what the NHS can/should do for them. One of the commonest issues is that veterans are only entitled to veteran specialist care for service related injuries or illnesses – being a veteran, per se, is not enough.

What is being done

Though many organisations are involved in veteran-related services, the NHS is the only health body that is legally required to do so. For many years there was no special veteran care pathway through the NHS – one that complements all NHS access. Over the last few years great efforts have been made to create veteran-specific pathways and services and increase awareness of veteran issues among NHS staff.

Primary healthcare

GPs need to be aware of their registered veterans and what is available for them. The Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) Midland Faculty and NHS England have launched a pilot to encourage GP practices to become ‘veteran friendly’ accredited. This helps practices to better identify and treat veterans, ensuring they get access to dedicated care if appropriate. To date, over 100 practices have signed up, with plans for a national roll-out.

In addition, when registering into the NHS from Defence Medical Services, the registration form asks the individual and GP to identify whether the patient (or their family) have ever served. This should lead to better identification. Finally, the RCGP has veteran healthcare in the professional examination for GP qualification, ensuring all future GPs are veteran aware.

Mental healthcare

Veterans’ mental health has been a huge focus for improvement and over the last few years has seen the launch of the Transition, Intervention and Liaison Service (TILS) and the Complex Treatment Service (CTS). The TILs provides early access to mental health care and is aimed at personnel leaving the military and veterans with lower levels of mental health difficulties.

The CTS deals with more complex cases, including PTSD and co-morbidities and includes those who have not improved with previous treatment. Both can provide help with housing, finances, employment and alcohol misuse, as well as support for families coping with the consequences.

Since April 2017, approximately 4,700 patients have been referred to the TILS and CTS. Visit the NHS website for more information.

Physical healthcare

The Veterans Trauma Network (VTN), the first clinical pathway for service attributable veterans’ physical healthcare, consists of 10 regional trauma centres and five trusts that undertake specific veteran care and co-ordinate all service-related physical health veteran GP referrals. The centres include seconded military clinical professionals who work closely with military charities and the TILS and CTS to ensure holistic care is provided.

The VTN was and continues to be informed by veterans who can access the service via GP referral, as explained on the NHS website.


Whilst these specialised services do not absolve the responsibility of mainstream services to identify the particular needs of veterans and to seek to treat them to ensure ‘no disadvantage’, the NHS is making significant progress to create an integrated veteran pathway. It is vital that this is done with sensitivity to all NHS users.

Learning from military cohorts will always inform civilian practice – especially around blast injury and trauma. The NHS is designed to be able to deal with both basic and the most complex health needs. It is therefore only right that veteran care is anchored in the NHS, as it is the NHS that kept military casualties alive in all wars since 1947. The current initiatives aim to create a veteran-aware and sensitive healthcare system that will educate, deliver and endure.


How to Support Funding for Veterans Mental Health Initiatives

BFBS’s annual charity drive The Big Salute has awarded a £10k grant to charity Combat Stress.


Combat Stress helps former servicemen and women deal with issues like trauma, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.  The Big Salute grant will go towards funding a six-week occupational therapy course for veterans from across the UK who are referred for mental health treatment.


Combat Stress will hold the courses at one of their three residential treatment centres in Ayrshire, Shropshire and Surrey. Robert Marsh, Director of Income Generation for Combat Stress says that his charity has been helping veterans for a century: 

“We were founded 100 years ago just after the end of World War One by women who saw waves and waves of veterans coming back from the Western Front, totally shattered to their core by weeks and months of trench warfare and they decided to do something about it.”

Robert says that the money raised by listeners like you makes a huge impact on the impact of veterans struggling with their mental health:

“The support from The Big Salute has been really helpful in making sure we can make and deliver the services that veterans find so helpful.” Treatment for mental health problems has dramatically evolved over the last century. During the First and Second World Wars PTSD was poorly understood and many veterans weren’t treated with compassion or dignity.

Robert believes organisations like Combat Stress have helped change the narrative:

“The British Armed Forces treat mental health a lot better than they probably did twenty or even ten years ago.” “They’ve introduced things like TRiM (trauma risk management)… so the military like the commercial world have realised the impact of stress and having good mental health does impact the bottom line. That’s a really good thing.”

The BFBS Big Salute is an annual campaign that raises vital funds for armed forces charities.

Most recently, the Big Salute has awarded grants to 13 charities: Alabare, Association of Royal Naval Officers (ARNO), Blesma the Limbless Veterans, Bridge4Heroes, Combat Stress, Felix Fund, Glen Art, Help 4 Homeless Veterans, The Matthew Project, Turn to Starboard, Unload and Veterans Aid.

Donate any change you can spare to the BFBS Big Salute Christmas Campaign to support armed forces charities.

Visit to make your donation or pop into your local Forces Radio BFBS studio where we have collecting tins at the ready.


Small businesses behind Defence’s biggest projects recognised

The 90 staff of A&G Precision designed machine components for the fuselage, horizontal and vertical tails of the F-35.

From fighter jets to training veterans, thousands of small businesses across the UK are helping to keep Britain safe through their vital services to Defence, Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said today as he marked Small Business Saturday.

Small companies from every part of the UK have played a pivotal role in recent Defence projects, including building the UK’s game-changing F-35 fighter jets and delivering the Royal Navy’s largest ever warships, the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers.

Unique Knowledge and Expertise

Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said:

Small businesses across the UK are a vital cog in the Defence supply chain, from fitting warship galleys in Newcastle to building circuit boards in the South West. They bring innovation, unique expertise and a competitive edge to Defence industry.

And with startups run by former service personnel and manufacturers making the most of our veterans’ unique knowledge, our nation’s economy as a whole is feeling the benefit of our Armed Forces’ expertise and training.

I would like to thank every small business in the country who has invested hundreds of hours of their time, their considerable skills and expertise in support of our Armed Forces.

Boosting the nation’s economy

Technical Fibre Products produce advanced materials which play a key role in pilot protection for the F-35. They became involved in the programme in the 1990s and their materials have been core to the aircraft design from the start.

Taking place on the first Saturday of December, Small Business Saturday celebrates the huge contribution that small businesses make to the British economy and their local communities.

Despite the huge scale of the 65,000-tonne Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, even some of Britain’s smallest businesses have played a key role in their construction. Caterform, a family-owned business with fewer than 12 employees, worked on the galleys and servery areas of the carriers that will feed a crew of 700. This Tyneside company has fitted kitchen equipment on the galleys of Royal Navy ships for over 30 years.

World Leading

And over 100 British small businesses helped build the new F-35 fighter jets, who this September had their historic first landing on the deck of HMS Queen Elizabeth. Manchester-based EDM Ltd provide world-leading training simulators to help the Royal Air Force train its personnel to load weapons and fit ejection seats to its latest fighter, without ever going near a real aircraft.

The 107 employees of Exception PCB, from Gloucestershire, manufactured the circuit boards that control many of the F-35’s core capabilities, including its engines, lighting, fuel and navigation systems. Overall, the F-35 programme is expected to boost the UK economy by around £35 billion and create around 25,000 British jobs.

Signing the Covenant

Last year the Ministry of Defence invested over £2.5 billion into small and medium businesses as part of its commitment to make it easier for them to win contracts. In addition, hundreds of small businesses have signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging their support for the military community.

The MOD has also launched a range of initiatives, including a new Defence Supplier portal which brings together useful information and opportunities for suppliers in one place; a dedicated Twitter feed to highlight new opportunities for SMEs, @defenceproc; and new, short-form contracts for less-complex procurements.


Gap in Veterans Support Still Frustrating Say Charities

HEALTH bodies, military charities and politicians united in a quest to find a ‘silver bullet’ to strike at the heart of Britain’s veteran suicide crisis. Organisations were able to vent their frustrations at the current ‘gaps’ in support for ex-forces personnel to Labour’s shadow minister for veterans, reserves and personnel, Gerald Jones.


They met with the Welsh MP after his visit to Portsmouth’s naval base, during an hour-long summit at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard. Causes said more funding needed to be provided to charities and NHS services to help veterans in crisis. But they also highlighted the need for a more co-ordinated approach to be taken between the plethora of forces charities and emergency services. Retired soldier Dan Arnold is the co-founder of Portsmouth-based cause All Call Signs and was among the groups at the meeting.


Set up in the wake of the suicide of special forces hero Danny Johnston, the organisation aims to support veterans in dire need or to rally search groups to find those missing and thought to be suicidal. He said: ‘There is a massive gap in service delivery at the point where someone is in complete crisis and feeling suicidal.‘There isn’t a true crisis intervention at the point when they’re in the direst of needs – at that point, there’s nothing.’ Other people at the session included the Royal British Legion, Combat Stress, Veterans Outreach Support (VOS), and Solent NHS Trust among others. Matthew Hall, of Solent NHS Trust, said medical services were stretched dealing with traumatised veterans, who often faced complex needs. He urged Mr Jones to fight to secure a ‘ring-fenced funding pot’ for NHS services supporting veterans in crisis.


Mr Jones said the government’s newly-launched veterans strategy had some ‘good ideas’ in improving the situation. But he said more was still needed, adding: ‘Coordination and collaboration don’t cost anything but if you want to raise awareness then all of that takes funding. ‘And when local authorities and public bodies have been significantly cash-strapped over the last seven or eight years, then that has a knock-on effect. ‘There is now a real challenge to provide even basic services because of eight years of austerity. That’s what we need to address.’ As previously revealed by The News, Britain has no official records of the number of veterans who take their own lives.


The revelation sparked outrage, with government bowing to public pressure and vowing to arrange for veteran suicide rates to be formally documented. Stephen Morgan, Portsmouth South MP, organised the meeting and said he would be scrutinising the new veterans strategy. ‘I want to make sure the government don’t just have warm words but that they have deeds as well,’ he said. ‘It was good today to learn about some of the good work going on in Portsmouth, what the challenges are and what I can do as an MP that cares for our armed forces and veterans to make sure they get a better service when they leave the military.’


Stephen James, co-founder of All Call signs, felt reassured by the MPs comments and said: ‘We covered a lot of ground in a short time which is a testament to the benefits of getting everyone under the same roof. ‘Collaboration was a key theme of the meeting, we now have to look at how we make that a long-term reality that benefits veterans and service personnel in need.’ Mr Jones added he would ‘take back’ all the good ideas from Portsmouth and said: ‘Discussions like this are incredibly useful. ‘We could all do well to listen to the experiences of the people at the grassroots, at the coalface. Nobody knows better about what needs to change than the people who provide those services at the grassroots level. ‘We’ve had a great example of that here this afternoon.’


Streaming Music for TRBL

MuddiBrooke’s debut single will raise money for The Royal British Legion

Xmas Back Home (The War Has Begun) is the debut single by MuddiBrooke, who is an alternative country/rock artist based in Derby, writes Kev White (Derbyshire Times). This Christmas song breaks with tradition and is the story of a female soldier and mother told from her perspective. MuddiBrooke explains: “Christmas is coming and she wants to be with her babies back home rather than fighting on the front line. Despite not being there with her children, she still wants them and the people around them to make it the best Christmas they’ve ever had.


“The song was inspired by John Lennon’s ‘War is Over!’ and also the true story (it was during the First World War that the first all women army (WAAC) was formed), ‘Christmas Truce’ when war was stopped briefly on the front line between British, German and French troops on Christmas Day and they played football together and exchanged gifts in 1914. Although it is not just female troops that miss their children, we wanted to highlight the fact that it is not just men on the front lines anymore, to promote equality and give praise to the women and all their work.”

Harks Back

Listening to the song it is clear that it harks back Christmas hits from the 70s and 80s with its catchy melody and memorable chorus. MuddiBrooke has pledged that all the proceeds from sales of the single will be donated to the Royal British Legion. The single is available from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon. Little is known about Muddibrooke, the identity of the artist is a closely guarded secret. Spread the hashtag #WhoIsMuddibrooke because this artist has a bright future. Derbyshire Times & YouTube Video


Drive to Prevent Homelessness and Suicide

A bid to stop veterans becoming homeless and suicidal has been announced by Defence Minister Tobias Ellwood.


Tobia Ellwood shared the initiative as he opened a debate on the Armed Forces Covenant, intended to protect veterans who have left the armed forces. Mr Ellwood told MPs the Ministry of Defence and Ministry for Housing had signed up to a statutory duty for commanding officers to refer vulnerable individuals to councils for housing.

“This is so important,” he said.

“It means we should not see people who might become homeless leaving the armed forces with nowhere to go because their plight will be flagged up.”

Working Group

The Minister also focused on suicide prevention, announcing a new working group had been set up to investigate how best to tackle the problem.

He said: “We have set up a new suicide prevention working group to urgently look at the cases of such distress in serving personnel.

“It will look at how to address the issues affecting those in such distress now and how to prevent others feeling the same way.”

He added: “It will look at the triggers in service to ensure all future veterans have the resilience they need while serving and after they leave.” Mr Ellwood further warned that the military was not the sole cause of suicide, saying there were usually other complex underlying issues. He said: “Suicide is the most tragic symptom usually of many other issues such as mental health or family breakdown, debt, unemployment or a myriad of other problems.

“It’s inaccurate, disrespectful and trivialising to link suicide solely to military service.

“But I do say that in some cases military service plays a role and we need to better understand the causes so we can try to prevent further suicides in future.”

Veterans Board

However, he confirmed a Veterans Board had been introduced to enable ministers to “hold to account those other departments that need to upgrade their support for both veterans, veterans’ families and the Armed Forces as well”, including on issues of homelessness and suicide. He added: “It is absolutely important we do not shy away, whether it is perceived or otherwise, from our responsibility to help those veterans who may feel that they have gone into a very, very dark place themselves.”