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Blind veteran from Milton Keynes to march at Cenotaph this Remembrance Sunday

Edward Archbold, 89 known as Ned, will be marching at the Cenotaph in London with more than 100 other blind veterans supported by Blind Veterans UK, the national charity for vision-impaired ex-Service men and women. Ned says: “I can’t wait to attend this year’s march. For me, Remembrance is about the pride of serving one’s country. It’s also about remembering the people who gave up their lives for the very same cause.”
Ned served in both the Royal Artillery 601 Field Battery and the Royal Army Service Corps. Ned was later transferred to the Royal Air Force (RAF), where he served in Ceylon with the RAF Police (Auxiliaries). “I was very proud to have served, and extremely proud to have been promoted to Lance Bombardier in the Army,” he said. “I also received a commendation in the RAF Police for tackling and arresting a baton-wielding intruder in the RAF camp.” It was not until 1985 that Ned’s sight began to deteriorate as a result of age-related macular degeneration. Ned says: “It was a horrible process. Gradual, but horrible.
“I found myself in the awful position of being unable to do most of the things that I’d previously enjoyed doing. I was unable to read or write. I couldn’t even see facial features.” Fortunately for Ned, social services put him in touch with Blind Veterans UK after learning of his military background. Ned maintains that the support the charity has provided him with has been hugely beneficial, particularly the IT assistance. He explains: “The IT support, specifically the Synapptic tablet device the charity has given me, has been fantastic. It’s given me the opportunity to keep in touch with family and friends, and for that I’m enormously grateful.” Ned is set to march with other vision-impaired ex-Service men and women supported by Blind Veterans UK as part of the national Remembrance Sunday commemorations in London on Sunday.
Chief executive of Blind Veterans UK, Major General (Rtd) Nick Caplin CB says: “Remembrance Sunday is always a very poignant time for our blind veterans and it is fantastic that Specsavers are able to support them to get to march at the Cenotaph. “Today, Blind Veterans UK supports more blind and vision-impaired veterans than ever before in the charity’s history and we have set an ambitious target to double the number of veterans we support in the next five years.” Blind Veterans UK is the national charity for blind and vision-impaired ex-Service men and women, providing vital practical and emotional support to help veterans discover life beyond sight loss. The charity estimates that there are currently 59,000 blind veterans that would be eligible to access its specialist support, most of whom are not currently aware of it. If you, or someone you know, served in the Armed Forces or did National Service and are now battling severe sight loss, find out how Blind Veterans UK could help by calling 0800 389 7979 or visiting www.blindveterans.org.uk

Poppy Collecting 2017

congratulations to Amy Cokayne HQ RAF Sport Sportswoman of year 

Official of year runner up is Michelle Crolla

Caistor black belt Amy wins British judo title

Black belt Amy Atkins will fight for Britain next year after managing to win a national title without a training regime. A hectic schedule as mum-of-two and businesswoman denied Amy the time to prepare properly for her trip to the British Masters Judo Championships. But she came through four matches to win the women’s -63kg F2 (age 39-plus) title in Cardiff on her debut appearance at a British Masters tournament. By winning this title she is now ranked the British number one for her weight and age category “I wasn’t expecting anything really because I hadn’t really done any training,” she said. “I must have just had a good day. “With the gym to run and two little kids there just wasn’t the time, but I do a lot of exercise classes which helped me to stay fit.” Amy (39) took up the martial art at the age of nine and had a successful junior judo career which included a British Open title. She gained a coveted black belt aged 16 and gained her second dan seven years later.
While serving in the RAF, she also won national and international events representing the military all over the world, and now represents the air force as a reservist. But Amy, a second dan black belt, ranked her latest win among the best of her career. “I took judo very seriously when I was a kid,” she added. “But in terms of British Opens it is the best result I’ve had for a lot of years,“It’s brilliant and means I can give something back to the military who support me to go and compete.” Having joined up in 2000, she quickly received both the RAF and Combined Service colours and became Armed Forces champion for her weight category, a title she held for most of her career. Amy went on several tours of duty, including Iraq, but the birth of her first daughter Caitlin (5) persuaded her to return to civvy street in 2014. But within 18 months she re-joined the RAF Police Reserves, allowing her to continue with her RAF career and represent the service at judo. After second daughter Amber (2) came along, Amy came up with a business idea and decided to convert a disused Caistor warehouse into a gym.

BFit Lincs Gym has had more than 600 members through its doors since opening a year ago this week. Despite this heavy workload, Amy will have to find time for a training regime after earning a place in the British team thanks to her win in Wales. She said: “The next thing is to start training for the British team, and the next big competition is in Scotland in January. “I will compete in as many (international) matches as I can. “My kids have never seen me compete so I hope they will be able to come along, too.”


An RAF serviceman surprised his long-term girlfriend in the best way

Corporal Justin Duncan has served three tours of Afghanistan and is currently working in close protection

An RAF military police officer serving in Afghanistan has delighted his long-term girlfriend with a surprise visit to her Tunbridge Wells office today (Thursday).

Charlotte Cox, 32, who lives in Snodland, was not expecting Corporal Justin Duncan home until later this evening (October 5).

He said: "I've been based in Kabul for four months and have two weeks' leave. I'm a military police officer with the RAF.

"In Kabul I work in close protection, we're looking after a VIP for our duration. Where he goes, we go."

This morning a phone call to his girlfriend's desk from her office's reception informed her her 'brother' was waiting downstairs for her.

Miss Cox, who works in recruitment, said: "He had been messaging me saying he was at Dubai and his flight was delayed. i got a call from reception this morning saying my brother was here.

The pair are looking forward to spending time with each other, after four months apart

"I saw him sat there and said 'you have done it again!', it's not the first time he has surprised me like this. It's a nice surprise."

In the meantime the pair are looking forward to relaxing and in Cpl Duncan's case "eating some really good food".

He added: "We're going down to Cornwall to see my mum, I'm looking forward to eating some really nice food! The food in Afghanistan is edible - just about.

"We have proper dining facilities now and it's all shipped in from Dubai - it's better than it was. It used to be ration packs but there are good facilities there now!"

Cpl Duncan, also 32, has served in the RAF for 10 years and has seen action during three tours of Afghanistan. He currently he works in close protection and provides the security for a top British general.

The pair have been dating for six years.


Riders deliver vital supplies

Blood bikers: Former RAF dog handlers Martin Cadogan (left) and Ian Firth
Blood bikers: Former RAF dog handlers Martin Cadogan (left) and Ian Firth

A charity that helps ensure urgently needed blood and other vital medical supplies are delivered to Nottinghamshire hospitals out of hours is looking for more volunteers.

There are about 30 Blood Bike groups that each act as individual charities. Most also belong to the National Association of Blood Bikes.

Martin Cadogan, of Fernwood, joined the Nottinghamshire group, and his friend, Ian Firth, the Lincolnshire group.

Both are former RAF police sergeants and both served as dog handlers.

Martin said after they left the RAF they wanted to get involved with a charity.

“We are both keen motorcyclists and so the Blood Bike project seemed a perfect one to volunteer with,” he said.

Martin volunteers to be on duty from a Friday evening to Sunday, which he does every two months.

He picks up one of the liveried motorbikes from the group’s fleet that is ready to be used when he is called upon.

“We are very visible and because we are on a bike we can normally get through the traffic,” said Martin.

“It gives you a real sense of purpose and you are potentially saving lives.” 

The membership officer for Nottinghamshire, Mr John Devlin, said the Blood Bike idea started more than 50 years ago when a group of bikers were told how long it would take to get blood needed by a friend after an accident — and decided they could do better. 
The idea spread and groups have been set up across the country.

They offer an additional service to that of NHS Blood And Transplant, which provides transportation through the day.

Mr Devlin said at evenings and weekends the service available to hospitals was more limited so sometimes taxis were used that could prove expensive.

“We aim to replace purely that expensive service and provide free cover,” said Mr Devlin.

Last year they completed 1,086 jobs and have already done 769 this year. They achieve an average call-to-collection time of 34 minutes.

Items taken include blood samples and blood stocks, platelets, microbiology, swabs and donor breast milk. 

Mr Devlin said the trusts they worked with may still use taxis during the day and some, like Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, were only making part-use of them.

“We are ready and willing to do much more,” he said.

The Nottinghamshire group has almost 100 volunteers but wants another 20 riders to give them more flexibility.

Volunteers must be over the age of 25 and obtain a recognised advanced rider qualification.

Another ten to 15 volunteers are needed to act as controllers.

They operate from home, answering calls from hospitals and passing delivery details on to the riders. 

The service survives on donations and corporate sponsorship so is also looking for volunteers to help with fundraising.

More information is available at www.nottingham shirebloodbikes.org or www.lebbs.org


Airport-style security checks for Scampton Airshow visitors

Random vehicle checks will also be carried out

Visitors to the inaugural Scampton Airshow this coming weekend will have to pass through airport-style security checks on the way in.

Following terrorist attacks including in Manchester, London, Barcelona, Paris and Nice, the security services and organisers of the show are leaving nothing to chance during the event on September 9 and 10.

There will be several airport-style security scanners that visitors to the show will pass through on entry.

Measures also include armed police patrols, spot checks of vehicles and enhanced CCTV.

The current terror threat in the UK is classed as 'severe', which is the second highest of five after 'critical'.

But organisers say the precautions aim to ensure that the thousands of visitors expected at the show "feel safe".

An air show spokesman said: "Public safety is at the very heart of this air show and we are committed to making sure visitors feel safe at all times.

"A significant number of marshals will be highly visible at this year's show with support from RAF personnel and Lincolnshire Police. The team will all be engaging with visitors to ensure an enjoyable safe show for all.

"We are delighted to be working in partnership with Lincolnshire Police and RAF police to deliver you a safe and enjoyable show.

"All visitors will enter an through an airport style security system; so please arrive in plenty of time to go through these processes.

"We actively encourage any visitors who see suspicious behaviour to report it to either the police or to speak with other show staff who will act on your information.

"The Scampton site benefits from a dedicated control area which has extensive CCTV which will be continuously monitored and recorded for your safety.

"We wish you all a safe and extremely enjoyable day."


RAF Police Rugby also doing a sterling job collecting at Paddington this morning!

Battle of the Moray lawmen sees victory for Police Scotland

AN RAF POLICE TEAM lost out in a penalty decider in their charity match against Police Scotland at Borough Briggs, the home of Elgin City, earlier this week.

The game ended 1-1 after the regulation time resulting a penalties to decide where the trophy would go – that honour fell to Police Scotland who won 5-2.

A small crowd turned up to support the two teams who were raising money for the Lesser Borough Briggs Community Trust (LBBCT). Both teams’ goalkeepers were responsible for some great saves and each team had periods of dominance.

Both goals came in the last fifteen minutes, with an unfortunate own goal by the RAF Police team leading to a spirited fightback from them. Just five minutes later the RAF Police team had put the ball in the net at the other end of the pitch, and despite efforts from both sides the match ended 1-1.

The RAF Police team’s penalty kicks let them down and they missed three attempts, whereas Police Scotland scored the full five. Man of the Match was awarded to Flt Lt Nick Hanover of the RAF Police team.

Half time entertainment was provided by the RAF Lossiemouth Pipes and Drums. After the match the trophy, named the Jewel of Moray, was presented to Police Scotland’s captain PC Jamie Durkin by RAF Lossiemouth’s Station Commander, Group Captain Paul Godfrey. Final donations amounted to just under 500 for LBBCT.

On behalf of all the organisers Sgt Dave Halil expressed his thanks to everyone who had supported the even, saying: “It’s been a real team effort to get the match set up, but I’d really like to thank Elgin City FC and Gordon & McPhail for supporting us, and everyone who came along and donated some money.

“The money raised will go towards creating an all-weather pitch that will be available for all of the sports players of the future in an around Elgin.”

Police forces pledge support for Moray group’s artificial pitch dream

Officers from the RAF police and Police Scotland will go head-to-head to raise funds for the Lesser Borough Briggs Community Trust.
Scores between rival police forces will be settled on the pitch to boost a Moray group’s campaign to take control of a football pitch.

The group is preparing a bid to Moray Council to take control of the land next to the River Lossie in Elgin to maintain the pitches.

The grassland is currently held in trust for the people of the town by the local common good fund.

Dozens of children at a time have been playing on the park during the summer holidays as part of coaching classes.

And if the group’s plans are approved then an artificial surface could be put down on the grassland to allow sessions to take place whatever the weather.

Now the two police forces have pledged their support by asking fans to make donations to the trust as they make their way through the gates to a charity match between the sides.

Sergeant Dave Halil, from the RAF police, said: “We try to have a football match against our Police Scotland colleagues every year.

“We work really closely with them to ensure the safety and security of not just the RAF base, and RAF families in Lossiemouth and Elgin, but the whole community in the area.”

The match will kick off at Elgin City FC’s ground, Borough Briggs, on Monday, August 7 at 7pm.

The Firmin Sword of Peace, previously known as the Wilkinson Sword of Peace, is an award given to units of the British Armed Forces for activities above and beyond the unit's normal role that improve relations with the community, either within the United Kingdom, or overseas.
The award was established by British sword maker Wilkinson Sword in 1966, with the company presenting a ceremonial sword to one unit each of the Royal Navy, including the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, British Army, and Royal Air Force; each unit having been judged as making the most outstanding contribution to community relations within each service during the calendar year.
20 July 2017 - HRH Prince Harry of Wales presented the Firmin Sword of Peace to the RAF Police at RAF Honington today and it was received on their behalf by Group Captain Steven Horne, Provost Marshal & Commander RAF Police. The RAF Police had previously been awarded the sword in 2015.


Despite serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East during a military career spanning nearly four decades, an RAF veteran has finally conquered his biggest fear on his last day in uniform – riding a horse.

Ken Prentice has stood down as a warrant officer at RAF Lossiemouth following nearly 38 years of service.

Generations of military tradition dictates that personnel stepping down from the post are escorted from their station on horseback to mark the end of their duties.

And, despite having a fear of the animals, Mr Prentice bravely saddled up on a large mare called “Red”, measuring 16 hands three, before being paraded around the Moray base.

During his first-ever ride, the former warrant officer was led by Aneesa Parry from the Lossiemouth Saddle Club and Corporal Kerry Norgate as he waved farewell to personnel, including station commander Group Captain Paul Godfrey.

Before straddling the horse on the saddle, the former warrant officer stood on top of a chair before climbing aboard.

Horse handlers held Red still, so the nervous rider could size up the animal while settling his nerves.

Family and friends met Mr Prentice at the entrance gates to the base on his last day in uniform.

And despite stepping down from the role he has held for nearly four decades, the veteran is eager to continue serving in some capacity in the future.

He said: “I’m genuinely sorry to be leaving the Royal Air Force, but I hope that I can find a reserve role that will allow me the opportunity to continue to support the RAF.

“I was truly humbled to be led off the unit on what must be one of the largest horses that I have come across, and to see so many personnel present to witness the occasion.

“I couldn’t believe that, in my last few hours, I had to overcome my biggest fear and mount such a large horse. I had no idea that anything had been planned as it was my intention to leave quietly.”

Mr Prentice’s career in the RAF began in November 1979. During his long period of service in the forces, he has been posted to myriad bases across the UK as well as in Germany, Belgium and as far afield as the Ascension Islands in the southern Atlantic Ocean.

He said: “I have enjoyed every minute of my time serving in the RAF.

“My personal highlights have been representing the UK within the Nato Counter Intelligence World, being appointed WO (warrant officer) Counter Intelligence Squadron, fulfilling the role of principal security adviser to the UK Maritime Component Command in Bahrain on three operational tours and being WO to No. 4 RAF Police and Security Squadron based at RAF Lossiemouth.”

Bedford man tells all about being a reservist ahead of Armed Forces Day

The Police Inspector with Bedfordshire Police joined the Royal Air Force Police just under two years ago and hasn’t looked back since. His current role with Bedfordshire Police is the management of the Rural Crime Team across the county but in recent months he’s been exploring further afield in the USA and Canada as part of his role as an RAF reservist. In January he spent five days travelling on a C17 Transport Aircraft to provide security as required for crew, cargo and aircraft. He was part of a four person team where the other members were all regulars. In July he will be supporting the security operation for the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford and providing support to the Police Flight at RAF Wittering, completing duties with the regular RAF Police personnel. “The reservist experience is an incredibly rewarding one,” he said. “It can be a challenge at times, but I’m lucky in that my employer, squadron and family are very flexible and understanding.

“A proportion of my duties have similarities to my day job as a civilian police officer. However the focus on protective security is an added dimension which supports my day job.” Bedfordshire Police currently employ fourteen reservists and in 2014 received a Silver Award as part of the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme. The programme celebrates and recognises the support given to Defence personnel by employers that pledge, demonstrate or advocate support to the Armed Forces Community. Chief Constable Jon Boutcher said: “Volunteers and reservists are a hugely important part of policing and supporting the armed forces and Mark is a shining example of skill sharing across the organisations.

“In much the same way that volunteers enhance our front line through the Special Constabulary and through watch schemes, it is tremendous that Mark is able to use his skills to help the RAF while also gaining unique experience to bring back to Bedfordshire Police. “I look forward to continuing the great relationship we have with our armed forces through schemes such as these.” So what is the secret to becoming a reservist? Married, with four children and a black Labrador, Corporal Mark Farrant knows all too well that it boils down to forward planning and good communication. “Make sure you have the support and understanding of your family. There will be times that it can cause additional stresses and pressures. “Make your decision jointly. Then you’re free to enjoy the experience of a lifetime,” he adds.


This image shows an RAF
Police Corporal and Police Dog Eron, from RAF Northolt (West London), on security duties outside the polling station set up at the South Ruislip Christian Fellowship Hall yesterday during the UK general elections.


Major public events this weekend including the FA Cup final are having their security reviewed with thousand of troops on standby to guard them.

Parliament was closed to the public and the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace was postponed on Wednesday, as the UK’s terrorist threat level was raised to its highest state in a decade. Armed Police will also be deployed to the Chelsea Flower Show.

The Army said no date had been set to pull troops back to barracks after around 1,000 soldiers on Wednesday took on guarding duties at high-profile buildings including Parliament, embassies and Sellafield.

Soldiers, armed with SA80 rifles, from the Parachute Regiment, Royal Artillery and foot guards regiments could be seen in London. Small numbers of Royal Marines and RAF police are also deployed.


Join the troops in the Military Village at Suffolk Show 2017

This year’s show sees the return of one of the Military Village, run by 6 Regiment Army Air Corps. As one of the most popular areas for interactive fun, the area will provide a window in to military life and a platform for the forces to display their capabilities. The village also enables show visitors to get hands-on with the hardware and provides an opportunity for service charities to work alongside the personnel that they support.

Major Jamie Milnes explains: “This year will see a broad spectrum of military personnel, their kit and equipment. The Apache Attack Helicopter will be at the centre of the display with Lynx and Gazelle helicopters available to sit in, to have a feel for what pilots and aircrew work with.

“No 1 Squadron RAF Regiment, 2623 R(Aux)AF Regiment and 3 Tactical Police Squadron will be on hand to let you look at the suite of combat vehicles and weapon systems, including snipers, mortars and heavy weapons, while The RAF Regiment and RAF Police will be on the ground displaying the Force Protection element of the Royal Air Force.”


‘Outstanding bravery’ of cops who saved ‘bomber’

Suspect who had coloured wires protruding from his jacket ‘could have been shot’ during incident near the Emirates Stadium

POLICE officers who tackled a suspected suicide bomber near the Emirates Stadium have been commended for some of “the most outstanding bravery ever seen”.

The team of constables were awarded the Met commissioner’s prestigious Excellence Award on Friday for their actions in subduing the man, who had wires and mobile phones strapped to his chest in Avenell Road, Highbury.

The bomb turned out to be a fake, but police chiefs said that the terrorist threat was so believable that the suspect would have “undoubtedly” been shot by armed officers had the constables not intervened.

PCs Jason Hodgson and Alex Field were responding to reports of a man walking the streets armed with a machete in January last year.

As they approached the suspect, he dropped the weapon and they were able to detain him after a violent struggle. PCs Sam Homer and Marc Woolmer joined the others at the scene and fired Tasers at the man.

Superintendent Nick Davies, who presented the officers with the award at Camden Town Hall, said: “At this point they noticed coloured wires protruding from his jacket and what appeared to be a trigger device. They noticed he appeared to be wearing some sort of improvised explosive vest, aware there was possible imminent danger to themselves and everybody else.”

They used two pairs of handcuffs to detain the man and “had the presence of mind to restrict his movements to prevent any triggers being used”, he said.

PC Wayne Pullen, a former RAF police officer with experience of improvised explosive devices, then “bravely undertook the task of searching the man”, SI Davies said.

He added: “The suspect looked every inch a genuine terrorist, he was clearly causing large fear within our community. He was in the vicinity of Arsenal football club, which would be a viable target.”

PC Pullen described the moment he began to search the suspect, finding several mobile phones, bits of circuit board and a web of wires wrapped around his torso.

“The key thing was to find out if it was a viable device. If it was, then we’d have to change our approach and begin evacuating the area,” he said.

There was a trigger on his chest with “what looked liked a viable positive and negative lead” coming from it and a battery wrapped in black electrical tape, he said.

He was eventually able to establish that it was not a viable explosive device.

“There was a white wire leading from the battery and I was able to follow it round to his back, where it came to a dead end,” he said.

The man was sent to a mental health hospital to receive the “appropriate” treatment, PC Pullen said, adding: “The way he was dressed and the way he behaved, I have no doubt it could well have ended a lot worse for him.”

PC Field said he spoke to bomb disposal experts, who later arrived on the scene, who confirmed that their intervention had saved a life that day.

“They said he would have had a bullet in his forehead if it wasn’t for us,” he said.

SI Davies said: “It’s quite difficult for me to effectively convey to you how we feel about these officers and how proud we are. The suspect could have been met by an armed officer and would have undoubtedly ended in a shooting, but for these officers bravery.”

WATCH: Heartwarming moment Harrogate girl is re-united with military dad


The magical moment a little girl from Harrogate was re-united with her daddy returning from deployment in Qatar has gone viral. A video taken by Hannah Caffrey of her four year old daughter, Emily, and husband, Jon, seeing each other for the first time in months has been viewed thousands of times over on Facebook.
Jon, a Sergeant currently on six months detachment in Qatar, had just landed at RAF Brize Norton for 10 days rest and recuperation when Emily ran towards him for a much-deserved cuddle. But the short time together was perhaps even more special, as little Emily was diagnosed with a brain malformation just last year. 
Hannah Caffrey said: "Because of the problems she has, she's not very vocal. I had explained to her in the car that we were going to see daddy but it wasn't until she saw him that I think she fully realised. "My daughter is the strongest little girl to go through what she's gone through already.
Emily with dad Jon as she rides her pony. Picture: Hannah Caffrey
Emily with dad Jon as she rides her pony. Picture: Hannah Caffrey
"Emily was born at 28 weeks and we have travelled around the country since she was born, moving with Jon's postings but we have bought a house in Harrogate so we have a base. "Sadly she's one of those children that has a malformation of no name. Long term, no-one has any idea what it might mean, we don't know what she'll do, it's very much take every day as it comes and see what happens."
Although the family can Whatsapp and video-call while Jon is away, Hannah explains that it is difficult to get Emily to properly talk to her dad over webcam. She said: "He sees massive changes in her development and just in herself, she's turned into a proper little girl. He's overwhelmed by her, she is out and out a proper daddy's girl
Emily and Jon enjoying quality time together. Picture: Hannah Caffrey
Emily and Jon enjoying quality time together. Picture: Hannah Caffrey

"Seeing her for the last 10 days has been really good for him to see how much she's changed in that time." The couple also have another seven-month-old daughter called Molly and while Jon was home, the family celebrated Emily's fourth birthday.

Jon Caffrey said: The greeting I got from Emily when I arrived back in the UK was more than I could ever of hoped for, I have often seen other fathers being greeted by their kids but never knew how special it really was until Emily came running up to me like she did. Luckily the video hides it, but I was closer to tears than I like to admit. "She is a very bright and happy little girl and also very much a daddy's girl, which makes it all the more difficult to leave her as she understands enough to know daddy is leaving but can't comprehend how long for or why he isn't coming home everyday. "Although I have done several deployments in the past, this is the first time I have been away for any significant period of time since having children which makes it so much harder for both me and Hannah. Jon who usually works at RAF College Cranwell within the RAF Police Special Investigations Branch is not due back from his detachment until August. On Tuesday (May 2) Jon flew back to Qatar and said goodbye to his family who he will see again when he finally returns home in the summer.
He said: "Hannah, who is an amazing Mum and wife, has her hands full when I'm away, and I don't think people appreciate just how tough it is for military wives/husbands when their partners are deployed, especially when children are involved. "The 11 days I had back in the UK were amazing, especially as it was over Emily's fourth birthday, so we had a couple of parties for her as well as some good quality family time. "Sadly though that is all over now and I won't be back home to see them until August."

1 May 17

Wife claims husband left to 'suffer PTSD in silence' after serving in Afghanistan

A mum-of-three says her husband has been 'continuously let down' by the Ministry of Defence after developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Luke Dallison, who works for the RAF Police, spent seven months in Afghanistan in 2012 and now suffers from PTSD.

His wife, Nikita Dallison, is accusing the MoD of 'sweeping [us] under the carpet' after discharging the 32-year-old from their treatment centre - despite attempts to take his own life.

Mr Dallison has served with the RAF Police for 12 years.

Mr Dallison has served with the RAF Police for 12 years. Credit: Nikita Dallison

Nikita, who lives at the RAF Shawbury base in Shropshire, has shared a video discussing her husband's PTSD online, which has so far been viewed over a million times and shared by 30,000 people.

I first noticed his PTSD in early 2013. By 2014 he was a completely different person.

This is no longer just about my husband, but it's about thousands of others who are being or have been neglected by the system too.

I'd like the MoD to address the issues faced by servicemen and their families. I want them to improve the 'Duty of Care' they promised our loved ones in accordance with the armed forces covenant.

These men and women, these families, my husband are not just numbers. I want them to be treated with the dignity, compassion and respect that they deserve, that they are owed.


The mental health of our people is of the utmost importance, which is why we provide a variety of support including education and access to health services.

We encourage those that need help to come forward and get the assistance they deserve.


A veteran whose career was ended by a devastating injury has turned his life around – by creating his own vodka brand.

And Chris Gillan’s Heroes Vodka is already challenging the big boys of the booze industry after supermarkets agreed to stock it.

Chris served with the RAF police in Iraq and Afghanistan and was selected for special operations alongside the SAS.

But he suffered a severe leg injury in training, which forced him out of the military and put paid to his future plans to join the police.

He then found himself unemployed and temporarily homeless, but has managed to turn his life around after starting the vodka business which he planned from the spare room of his council flat.

Chris, 37, said: “I was in quite a dire situation financially. It was a dark part of my life.

“I had to turn to the armed forces charities to get some assistance.” Using funding he received from the British Legion, Chris launched his firm.

The vodka is bottled at Broxburn Bottlers in West Lothian and is now being stocked in 350 Asda stores across the UK.

Chris, who employs forces veterans at the firm, added: “A minimum of 20 per cent of all profits go to our charities – the Royal Navy & Royal Marine charity , the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.”


In the wake of the tragic death of PC Keith Palmer a charity single has now been produced with the lyrics penned by the children of a serving police officer.
Two boys aged 11 and 13 have written a song about what police do and how officers across the country work together.

Their aim was to have a member of every police force in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland represented on the song to raise money for the charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS).

The profits of the all sales of the track will go to COPS. This is a charity that looks after families of police officers who have died in the line of duty.
The track features singers from 20 police forces around the UK which includes RAF Police.

After a lot of hard work the track is now available for download on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Amazon as We Stand Together by The Thin Blue Line.

Download from Amazon

Download from iTunes


A female pensioner who was filmed having sex with dogs has been spared jail by a judge.

Carol Bowditch, 64, had sex with a St Bernard, a black labrador and an Alsatian claiming later she did not realise that it was illegal.

Her activities were exposed as a result of an RAF Police investigation which centred on a man identified as organising a bizarre sex party .

Owners watched their dogs having sex with women, who then had sex with the men.
Details of the event were later posted on an internet forum specialising in bestiality.

The investigation led police to visit Bowditch and when her home was searched officers found a DVD and a USB stick which both contained film of her with dogs.
Victoria Rose, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court "When the DVD was analysed it was found to contain extreme images.
"Those images portrayed persons committing penetrative sexual acts with dogs.
"Also included were images of this defendant herself carrying out sexual activity.
"Included was an eight minute and 59 seconds video of Mrs Bowditch engaging in vaginal and oral sex with a St Bernard dog named Oscar.
"When the defendant was interviewed she admitted she had penetrative sex with dogs.
"She accepted it had taken place over several years. She was unaware it was illegal."
Miss Rose said that at least eight photographs were found of Bowditch having sex with dogs and 30 moving images.
Bowditch, 64, of Evedon, Lincs, admitted a charge of having sexual intercourse with an animal between 13 November 2011 and 25 November 2014.
She also admitted possession of 37 extreme pornographic images on 21 March 2016.
Daniel Galloway, 65, of the same address, admitted aiding and abetting Bowditch to have intercourse with an animal.
He also admitted charges of making indecent images of children, possession of a prohibited image of a child, distributing 1,861 indecent images of children and possession of extreme pornography.
His sentence was adjourned to a later date.
James Gray, in mitigation, said "She is 64 and has no previous convictions.
"Both she and Mr Galloway have suffered considerable public humiliation.
"They have been ostracised by their friends and family.
"They have suffered that added element of punishment which in less salacious cases would not be present."
Bowditch was given a community order with 12 months supervision and a 16 week night-time curfew.

RAF Wittering policeman and dad of twins to take on huge cycle challenge to say thanks to medical staff

Nathan Curtis, who is based at RAF Wittering, will ride between Peterborough City Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary on April 15.

His twin daughters were born in October 2016 and are healthy now but their mum, Steffanie, needed an emergency caesarean if the smaller of the twins was to survive. The lifesaving operation was performed at Leicester Royal Infirmary. Nathan and Steffanie were unable to see the girls, Millie and Charlotte, for the first few hours of their lives. Born ten weeks prematurely, the tiny babies were just bigger than the size of an adult hand. Two weeks afterwards, Millie was transferred to Peterborough City Hospital. Nathan said: “The quality of care was second to none and everybody was just amazing. The neonatal intensive care staff are the real heroes. I knew the girls were in the best capable hands.” It’s very busy in the Curtis household. Steffanie is a full time mum to Mille and Charlotte and their brother, Noah, who is three years old. Nathan is balancing a very busy job as an RAF policeman with helping his wife at home and training for the bike ride. In preparation for the 82 mile ride, Nathan trains every day; working in the gym and on a turbo-trainer at home. The turbo-trainer is a small device which is mounted under the rear wheel of a bicycle and allows realistic (but static) training indoors.


RAF reservist ‘looked up colleague’s skirt’ at Oktoberfest

Keith McIlraith was photographed sneaking a look up a fellow police reservist's dress at an Oktoberfest party night at the No 603 Squadron headquarters in Edinburgh.

Keith McIlraith was photographed sneaking a look up a fellow police reservist's dress at an Oktoberfest party night at the No 603 Squadron headquarters in Edinburgh.

ormer Royal Navy submariner Keith McIlraith was photographed looking up a fellow police reservist’s dress at an Oktoberfest party night at the No 603 Squadron headquarters in Edinburgh.

McIlraith - who is also a TV extra - and the woman had been enjoying the “rowdy, drunken affair” along with around 50 other military personnel following a training day at the RAF HQ.

The woman was dressed as a “German beer wench” and after spotting a friend in the same outfit she asked for a picture of them to be taken.

Nothing was said at the time but the woman admitted she was left “shocked and embarrassed” when she saw the picture of her and her friend with McIlraith on the floor looking up her short dress a few days later.

The ex-Navy submariner, 43, denied he had looked up the woman’s skirt claiming instead he and a female friend had been larking about on the floor of the function suite during the party on October 25, 2014.

But McIlraith - who has appeared as a support actor in River City, Dear Green Place and Bargain Hunt - was found guilty of a breach of the peace by looking up the woman’s skirt at the RAF HQ, Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh, following a trial at the capital’s sheriff court today.

The 48-year-old victim told the court she attended the RAF training day in the afternoon before changing into a “traditional Oktoberfest German wench” fancy dress outfit consisting of white off the shoulder top, short black skirt and black boots.

She said: “People were drinking quite a lot - it was a party type atmosphere.

“It was a good evening and the majority of it was spent in the bar before we went through to a bigger room for party games.

“I saw a friend wearing the same outfit and wanted a picture taken of us as I thought it would be quite funny. I looked at the picture a couple of days later and I was shocked.

“I didn’t know he was on the floor looking up my skirt - I was shocked and embarrassed.

If I’d known about it In would have dealt with it then and there.

If I’d [known what he was doing] I would have stamped on his face.”

The woman then said she confronted McIlraith about the image a few weeks later but that he had ‘just laughed it off’ and said ‘it was a bit of a laugh’.

“There was no apology and he felt as if he didn’t do anything wrong.”

The woman then reported the matter to the Provost Marshall, the head of the RAF police, before going on to inform the civilian police around nine months after the incident.

The woman said she made a statement to the police as she felt the RAF command “were not taking it [the complaint] seriously enough”.

Giving evidence, McIlraith, from East Kilbride, told the court he had drunk around a dozen bottles of beer and as a result had “no recollection” of the picture being taken.

He said he had been engaging in “tomfoolery” with a female colleague whereby both of them were rolling around the floor on several occasions that evening.

He denied the allegation he had looked up the woman’s skirt claiming that would have been “obscene”.

He added: “I know at no point did I look up anyone’s skirt. I wasn’t paralytic but I was drunk.

“It [the picture] might look like that but I wasn’t looking up her skirt.”

Following the evidence, Sheriff Fiona Tait told McIlraith she was rejecting his version of events as “unsatisfactory” but found the woman’s evidence to be “credible and reliable”.

Sheriff Tait found the former Royal Navy submariner guilty of the breach of the Pearce charge but did not place McIlraith on the Sex Offenders Register following yesterday’s trial.

The sheriff said she will consider that sanction as part of the fuller sentence which was deferred to next month.


Inspection of the RAF Police by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary:Written statement - HCWS440

Ministry of Defence
Made on: 26 January 2017
Made by: Mark Lancaster (Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)

Inspection of the RAF Police by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary

I wish to inform the House that I am laying today, the first report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) Inspection of the Royal Air Force Police (RAFP).

The Armed Forces Act 2011 places a duty on HMIC to inspect and report to the Ministry of Defence on the independence and effectiveness of investigations carried out by each Service police force, and this is HMIC’s first statutory inspection report on the RAF Police.

I consider this report to be a positive endorsement of the RAFP providing assurance from an independent civilian authority that the RAFP is well led overall. Six recommendations have been made and five areas for improvement have been identified. The Royal Air Force accepts the report’s findings and work is already under way to address the recommendations and areas for improvement.



RAF police give boost to Diss Rugby Club fundraising event
Corporal Chris Chaplin, Sergeant Leon Jokat, Gordon Johnson, Sergeant James Thomas, Corporal Allan Gardner at Diss Rugby Club. Picture: RAF

Corporal Chris Chaplin, Sergeant Leon Jokat, Gordon Johnson, Sergeant James Thomas, Corporal Allan Gardner at Diss Rugby Club. Picture: RAF

RAF policemen have travelled up the road from Suffolk to Norfolk to support a fundraising event held at Diss Rugby Club that raised 350 to help former personnel and their families.

Personnel from 1(Tactical) Police Squadron supported the Royal Air Forces Association’s Diss branch Wings Appeal at the Diss v Norwich Rugby Game last Saturday.

This is the first event supported by the squadron, which has been aligned to the Diss branch as part of RAF Honington’s overall effort to support the association.

Fl Lt Anthony Xavier, from the squadron, said: “Squadron personnel were keen to volunteer for the event and saw the benefit of supporting the work of RAFA in Norfolk and Suffolk.

“Further support is planned for 2017 with the aim of developing a strong relationship with the branch and also allowing branch members to visit the squadron in the future.”

Gordon Johnson, RAFA Diss branch membership secretary, praised the positive impact of having uniformed and serving personnel available to support the association’s work and added that previous events without squadron personnel had raised around 100.


This RAF Police campaign aims to significantly reduce alcohol related offences: Target Zero

This RAF Police campaign aims to significantly reduce alcoholrelated offences: Target Zero
This RAF Police campaign aims to significantly reduce alcohol-related offences: Target Zero.

A mixture of briefings, surge operations, messaging and, in some places, free soft drinks for drivers, Target Zero is designed to help keep personnel safe this festive season.

Project Officer, Flt Lt Mark Wareing, said: "This is so much more than a Christmas drink drive campaign, this is about keeping everyone safe and enjoying the festive period."


Bus firm on board with armed forces
From left, Simon Webb, Manuel Church, Daniel Smith, George Vassallo, Mark Hayward, Stephen Peters,  Gareth Jones, and Steve Parry.
From left, Simon Webb, Manuel Church, Daniel Smith, George Vassallo, Mark Hayward, Stephen Peters,  Gareth Jones, and Steve Parry.

NEWPORT Transport has been made an official bronze award member of the UK Government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme for its work supporting former and current members of the armed forces.

The scheme encourages employers to help the armed forces by employing ex-defence personnel and support those who are already enlisted for reservist duties.

To be recognised by the government for the award, an employer must show a commitment to employing current or former members.

Newport Transport currently employs 16 people who have served or still are serving in the armed forces, 12 of who are bus drivers.

They include Gareth Jones, a former member of the RAF police squadron and veteran of the Northern Ireland conflict, who is projects manager at the bus company.

He said: “The company is hugely proactive in providing opportunities and support for those who have served in the army and those who still are.

“It’s great therefore that this commitment has been recognised by the organisers of the ERS. It is not always easy to find career pathways when leaving the armed forces, but Newport Transport is providing these opportunities.”

Scott Pearson, Managing Director of Newport Transport, said: “We are very honoured to have been recognised by the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in this way.

“As a company which prides itself on the diversity of its workforce, we appreciate hugely the dedication and experience of the men and women who work for Newport Transport from an armed forces background. Like the rest of our staff, their work is exemplary and their commitment to our customers is second to none.

“We are also very proud of our support of the Royal British Legion. We have dedicated buses in our fleet in memory of those who have served this country. This includes former employees of Newport Transport who sadly lost their lives in the Great War. In memory of these fallen heroes, five of our buses have their names bestowed upon them.

“The poppies that accompany their names will remain there until the 100th anniversary of the end of the war in 2018. We are grateful to all of those who have put the lives of the many before their own and will continue to support former and current armed forces members in the years to come.”

Neatebox inventor wants to help make journeys easier

Gavin Neate of Neatebox. Picture: Greg Macvean/TSPL
Gavin Neate of Neatebox. Picture: Greg Macvean/TSPL

Crossing a road is the kind of everyday activity few people stop and think about. But to those with a disability, the need to navigate busy streets can often be a stressful and frustrating experience.

It was through working with visually impaired people that Gavin Neate came to realise pedestrian crossings could be a hindrance to their progress.
The device allows users to activate crossings with their phones. Picture: TSPL
The device allows users to activate crossings with their phones. Picture: TSPL

His solution, the Neatebox, allows users to activate a crossing via an application in their mobile phone, eliminating the need to locate and then press a button.

First unveiled in 2014, the invention has since been installed at several locations across Edinburgh, including outside the Scottish Parliament and opposite the NHS building in Lauriston Place.

Neate, who is based in the capital, is in talks with one local authority to install Neateboxes at every pedestrian crossing in a medium-sized town.

“We’re not just talking about internet of things - we’re actually in the process of doing it,” Neate told The Scotsman.

“Changing an entire village or town is much easier than tackling an entire city and its 900 crossings. There might only be ten crossings in a small town.”

Neate’s firm belief is that technology can be used to allow more disabled people to travel independently. The entrepreneur spent 18 years training guide dog users after serving as an RAF police dog handler.

He learned first hand the barriers many people face when outdoors.

“Practitioners see problems and find work-arounds,” he said. “I had experience of clients struggling to reach crossing buttons and struggling to cross. Even in the best case scenario, they’re off to the side or awkward to reach.

“If you see that on a daily basis, you either accept it as the way things are, or you think of ways the problem can be solved.

“Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of her desire to see more people with disabilities being able to find work,” Neate continued.

“But first, employers must understand the needs of persons with disabilities. Unless that person can get to work, under their own steam, it’s kind of pointless.

“We want to help people to get to work independently - without having a support worker with them, or having to ask members of the public help you, or changing their route to avoid a certain crossing.

“Neatebox helps someone who cannot reach the button on a pedestrian crossing, But then it will also help those carrying shopping, for example.

“Ultimately, what we’re talking about is something that is totally inclusive. It can be used by lots of different people - but there are some whose lives could be improved dramatically.”

Neate came up with his initial idea in 2006 and then spent several years developing it “during lunch breaks and after work”.

Support from Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise allowed Neate to form a company and go full-time with the project in 2014.

He has since hired two members of staff after winning further funding, as well as undertaking several paid trials of the Neatebox technology.

The product is now currently going through its certification process before it is sold on the open market.

“The country has woken up to the need for people with disabilities to be not just included in society, but to enter the workforce as well,” he said.

“There’s no reason, if they can reach an office, they can’t be as productive as anyone else.”



A RAF Policewoman was one of the winners at the 'Women in Defence UK' inaugural awards at a ceremony held at the Honourable Artillery Company’s Headquarters.

Flt Lt Harriet Tadikonda was one of 200 nominees across five different categories that were whittled down via a stringent judging process carried out by a variety of leaders from business, professional bodies and government.

One Voice Initiative Anoopam Mission 12 Dec 2015 (c) Paresh Solanki- 61 (1)_web

Women in Defence UK exists to promote the value of women across defence and three finalists from each category attended the ceremony, but it was Flt Lt Tadikonda’s efforts that saw her win the ‘Most Collaborative’ award as founder and director of the ‘One Voice Initiative’. This brought every faith society across Defence together to form a multi-faith and humanist choir in the name of co-operation and tolerance.

In August 2015, tri-service singers, four civilian choirs and the musicians of the Band of the RAF Regiment all came together at RAF Northolt to record the final movement of the five part symphony composed by Flt Lt Harriet Tadikonda.

‘A Path to Peace’, the One Voice Initiative’s single was formally released at an event held at The International Anoopam Mission Temple in December 2015, with the hard copies of the single selling out within minutes of the launch and all proceeds donated to SSAFA – The Armed Forces charity.

On receiving her award, Flt Lt Tadikonda said: “I have been extremely fortunate to work alongside some extraordinary and visionary people on the One Voice project. This award is devoted them and the utterly inspiring servicewomen who were also nominated or won awards. There are now an increasing number of women in high profile roles within the MOD - it is an exciting time to be a woman working in defence.”

Editor: Sal Davidson MCIPR

Images: SAC Matt Baker & Parish Solanki

MOD Crown Copyright 2016