Sun Military Awards
Serving and former RAF personnel were recognised in this year's Sun Military Awards.
Yesterday evening, members of the RAF along with nominees from the other two services attended The Sun Military Awards ceremony, at Banqueting House, London.
Now in their tenth year, the ‘Millies’, provide the public with an opportunity to recognise the excellent work and outstanding achievements of our Service personnel over the last year.
Attendees were joined by The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, and Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Gavin Williamson MP and other high profile guests.
The UK Reaper Force won the 'Hero Overseas - Unit' category. Their citation recognised the work of the whole Reaper Force and a particular example where a Reaper crew, protecting advancing friendly Iraqi Security Forces, spotted a heavily armoured suicide vehicle emerge from under the cover of a building. Taking swift, decisive action, the crew quickly gained approval to target the vehicle, which was already on its attack run. The crew achieved a direct hit on the vehicle minutes after it first emerged, and seconds before it would have detonated among friendly forces.
Collecting the award on behalf of the UK Reaper Force, and speaking on their nomination, ISTAR Force Commander, Air Commodore Dean Andrew said:
“I am incredibly proud knowing that the personnel serving within UK Reaper Force have been shortlisted for such a prestigious award. The ‘Millies’ are the nation’s salute to the best of Britain’s Armed Forces and brings to national attention the vital operational contribution that these dedicated and modest professionals are making on a daily basis. They are truly deserving of recognition.”
It is a milestone week for the UK Reaper Force who have reached 10 years on coalition combat operations, during which it has flown 100,000 hours.
Tri-Service personnel's achievements on Operation RUMAN were also rewarded at the ceremony with The Prime Minister, Rt Hon Theresa May MP, presenting the Judges Special Recognition award. The devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria earlier this year, brought chaos to over half a million people in the Caribbean islands. At its height, over 2000 military personnel participated in Op RUMAN, over 400 of which were RAF Regulars and Reservists.
Attending as one of the RAF's Op RUMAN representatives, Wing Commander Gareth Burdett said;
“For many of us it was the proudest job we've ever done. People in our Overseas Territories and Dominica relied on 38 EAW to get aid to them, and we delivered - along with colleagues from DfID, the Royal Marines, Army and Royal Navy. For me, it has to rank as one of the RAF's proudest moments of recent years.”
Speaking more widely about the Armed Forces and their families, the Prime Minister said:
“We owe them a debt of gratitude. We’ve heard some stories today of tremendous bravery, hard work and commitment.”
Also awarded at the ceremony were former RAF paratrooper, Luke Wigman and former Army officer, Ibi Ali, who won the 'Overcoming Adversity' category. The pair, both injured whilst overseas on operations, completed arguably the toughest running races in the world – the World Marathon Challenge. Together, they ran seven marathons in seven days, on seven continents to raise vital funds for a new Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre (DNRC) at Headley Court, for fellow injured or sick service personnel.
Speaking about the challenge and the nomination, Luke Wigman said:
“Raising money for a world class rehab centre is what this was all about, but we are delighted to be nominated for the Millies and we hope this raises more awareness for the DNRC and the life-changing difference it will make to those who suffer from serious trauma injuries.”
Reflecting on the RAF's successes at the awards, Chief of the Air Staff, Sir Stephen Hillier, said:
“It is an honour to see our personnel recognised by the nation for their contributions throughout this busy and successful year. Many congratulations to all RAF personnel nominated for an award and to our winners who so brilliantly represent some of the best elements of Service - overcoming adversity, aiding countries in need, and protecting the UK with innovation and courage at our core.”
Another example of personnel working together from across the Services, are 'Hero at Home - Individual' nominees, Private Linzi Clarke and Corporal Vicky Keats from RAF Brize Norton. On a routine journey, from RAF Brize Norton to RAF Benson, the pair came across a serious road traffic accident and showing little regard for their personal safety, intervened to free the driver from the burning vehicle, before administering first aid.
Further still, Tri-Service Military co-responders, with the South Central Ambulance Service also shortlisted, in the 'Hero at Home - Unit' category. This unit of volunteers use their military skills to support the ambulance service and to save scores of lives. From last September to this August, Military Co-Responders with the South Central Ambulance Service attended 5,626 incidents, conducting an impressive 2,496 volunteer shifts covering 12,480 hours of service.
The contribution of RAF Reservists were also acknowledged, with Wing Commander Sue Shilladay of the Bridlington Combined Cadet Force shortlisted for 'Best Reservist' and Sergeant Kirsty Lyon-Taylor shortlisted for 'Hero Overseas - Individual'.
Speaking about the nomination, Sgt Lyon-Taylor said:
“I am surprised and flattered to be nominated as I feel that I was simply doing my job to the best of my ability, and was fortunate to be working with an experienced and supportive team. I enjoyed the challenge of bringing my civilian knowledge and skills to this situation. As a reservist I feel that this something positive we offer.”
Sgt Lyon-Taylor was deployed on Medical Emergency Response Team duties, providing emergency care to the British Army Training Unit in Kenya. During a routine shift, she received an emergency evacuation request. The scenario became further pressured on notification that the patient had been identified as a high-profile and influential figure in Kenya - Kuki Gallmann. The best-selling author, poet, environmental activist and conservationist had been shot while patrolling her conservation park.
Unfazed, Sgt Lyon-Taylor and her colleague worked together in hot, cramped conditions, administering blood and vital life-saving treatments. Thanks to Sgt Lyon-Taylor’s skill and professionalism the patient was delivered to hospital in a stable condition.
List of RAF Nominees & Winners
Hero Overseas – Unit
Winner - UK Reaper Force, RAF.
Winner - Op Ruman, Tri-Service.
Winner - World Marathon Challenge, Luke Wigman former RAF, and Ibi Ali former Army.
Hero at Home - Individual
Shortlisted Nominees - Pt Linzi Clarke, Army Royal Logistics Corps, and Corp Vicky Keats, RAF Joint Helicopter Support Squadron, RAF Benson.
Hero at Home - Unit
Shortlisted Nominees - Military co-responders, with the South Central Ambulance Service
Tri-Service, RAF Halton.
Hero Overseas - Individual
Shortlisted Nominee - Sgt Kirsty Lyon-Taylor RAF 4626 (AE) Sqn, RAF Brize Norton.