2022 Category Award Judges

Perhaps this year more than ever, with the nation emerging from Covid-19 restrictions, it was truly heartwarming to see so very many people stepping up to recognise the achievements of others within the Armed Forces Community.

Nominations for the 2022 Soldiering On Awards arrived in incredible numbers, telling the stories of remarkable individuals and extraordinary organisations.

To ensure each nomination is judged fairly, a stringent process is in place, and this is executed by two separate groups: the Category Judges and the Independent Judging Panel. Full details of the Soldiering On Awards judging process can be found here.

Clare Crookenden

Grants Manager. Forces in Mind Trust

Before joining Forces in Mind Trust as Grants Manager in March 2018, Clare worked for the charities Business in the Community and latterly The Prince’s Countryside Fund.

Whilst at Business in the Community she supported the development of the Prince’s Rural Action Programme before going on to the role of Grant and Events Manager at The Prince’s Countryside Fund. At the Fund she managed an annual £1.2m grant programme which provided support to projects that aimed to sustain rural communities, improve the prospects of viability for farm and rural businesses, and support aid delivery in an emergency and build resilience.

“We are delighted once again to be sponsoring the Working Together award.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the collaboration which we know takes place across our sector at many levels, and to encourage others to follow in the footsteps of our previous winners and finalists.”

Craig Beaumont, FRSA

Chief of External Affairs. Federation of Small Businesses

Craig is FSB’s senior staffer who leads the organisation’s policy, public affairs, international and media & comms teams that in the last year have secured COVID19 small business support from Government through flagship schemes, including the self-employment income support scheme in the first place, and then expanding it to those newly self-employed, many of which will be service leavers

Craig looks after the FSB/X-Forces partnership agreement that works so well – and led to the change in April 2021 where small employers will received 100% employer national insurance relief if they take on a veteran. Craig was awarded the Francesca Kemp award in 2019 for contribution to the UK small business community, and features in the OUTstanding LGBT+ business leaders list of role models for 2020/21.

Before FSB, Craig worked on Prime Minister’s Questions at 10 Downing Street, and for Seb Coe at the London 2012 Organising Committee of the Olympic/ Paralympic Games (including on ‘Tickets For Troops’).

“Service leavers make natural entrepreneurs, but often don’t realise it!  SOA shines a spotlight on those whose talent and skills create brilliant business ideas that change the world, crucially inspiring others to follow.”

Daniel Elser

Assistant Director. The Royal British Legion

Daniel is responsible for grant giving and social policy at the Royal British Legion, where he has worked for the last seven years. He sits on the Legion’s Campaigns and Research groups. Daniel has previously advised on funding initiatives including BBC Children in Need, Comic Relief and the LIBOR Veterans Accommodation Fund. He is particularly interested in social enterprise, youth engagement and community leadership.

“The SOA programme is an excellent opportunity for the public to learn about the inspirational and innovative work undertaken by our Armed Forces community.”

David Smith

Owner, CrossFit Spitfire. Soldiering On Award Winner, 2018

David is the Owner and Head Coach of CrossFit Spitfire based in Norwich.  Having established his startup business in 2016 with the assistance of X-Forces Enterprise and funding provided by the Start Up Loans company, the business has grown rapidly and seen phenomenal success both within this local community and as a brand across the UK and European fitness community.
David served as a Commissioned Officer in the Royal Air Force, serving across the UK and abroad, including Afghanistan in support of Operation Herrick in 2005-2006.  He received the ‘Directors’ Special Award’ at the Soldiering On Awards 2018 for the success of Spitfire and mentoring support to the Veteran Community, business start ups, planning, digital marketing and consultancy.  David is also the East Anglian X-Forces Ambassador, supporting the Veteran community through the X-Forces network.

“Judging the SOA is a huge privilege, it’s also one of the hardest things to do!  There are so many amazing, inspirational and deserved nominees it makes it almost impossible, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!”

Isabel Summers - SOA Judge 2022

Isabel Summers

Assistant Head of Policy, Forces in Mind Trust

Isabel joined Forces in Mind Trust in 2017 having previously worked in the charity sector and as a researcher in the higher education sector. Isabel has an MSc in Criminology, Criminal Justice and Social Research and is also a Trustee of a small charity in West Berkshire which provides free legal advice to victims of domestic abuse.

“”It is a privilege to be part of the judging panel this year and to celebrate the achievements of all the nominees. It is fantastic to see how much collaboration there is across the sector and the impact it has had”

Douglas Badham

Partner, Curzon Consulting

Doug has over 20 years’ international business consulting experience across the Financial Services, Communications & Technology, and Healthcare industries.  His expertise includes business strategy development, transformation design and delivery, operating model, sales growth, and customer experience optimisation.  He leads Curzon Consulting’s Financial Services practice, supporting banking, insurance and wealth management clients at a time of enormous disruption and change in the sector.  Curzon is an award-winning strategy and transformation consulting firm, and Doug and the team have partnered with X-Forces on a pro bono basis since 2017 in an ongoing advisory role to help steer and optimise their organisational growth.   

“I am an ardent supporter – for ten years these awards have shone a light on inspirational stories of immense challenges overcome, and stunning personal and business achievements.”


David Tait - Soldiering on Awards

Air Commodore David Tait MBE MA RAF

Head Training Education Skills Recruting And Ressttlement

Air Commodore Tait commenced his service as a flight commander on No 16 Squadron RAF Regiment (a Rapier squadron) at RAF Wildenrath, Germany in 1990. As a junior officer, Tait saw service in Belize, Northern Ireland, twice in Bosnia and Afghanistan.  As the Staff Officer responsible for Air Land Integration in HQ 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division, Tait got an early introduction to the complexities of the Joint battlespace before going back to RAF Regiment field squadron duties then promotion to squadron leader in 2002.

Following a tour on the A3 operations staff at Headquarters Strike Command, Tait deployed as the Operations Chief to the Iraq Survey Group, Bagdad, which was charged with searching for WMD across Iraq following the offensive campaign of 2003.  Following that fruitless search, Tait was appointed as the Commander of No II Squadron RAF Regiment and deployed with his squadron to Basrah, Iraq in 2005.  Tait then joined the Directorate of Capability Resources and Scrutiny in the MOD before promotion to Wing Commander in 2008 and a tour in the Joint Action J7 area of PJHQ.

Tait attended ACSC 13 in 2009/2010 and took command of No 6 Force Protection Wing, deploying with his Wing to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan in 2011.  He joined the Air Staffs in the MOD in 2012, with responsibility for International Engagement across NATO, Europe and Central Asia.  In 2013 he was promoted into Headquarters Air Command, where he was initially responsible for the ‘generate, operate and sustain’ aspects of CBRN and Force Protection Commitments.  Then, as DACOS A7 Policy and Plans he became responsible for Lessons, Operational Training and International Defence Engagement planning/delivery.  As Station Commander of RAF Honington from 2016 to 2018, he was responsible for the delivery of all aspects of Phase 2/3 training for the RAF Regiment along with Force Protection training for the wider RAF.  He attended HCSC in 2019 prior to taking up appointment as the Assistant Head (Military) in the Euro-Atlantic Security Directorate within Security Policy and Operations in the Ministry of Defence Head Office. In April 2020, he was promoted into his current role as Head of Training Education Skills Recruiting and Resettlement within the Chief of Defence Personnel’s area.

Richard Holroyd - Soldiering on Awards

Richard Holroyd

Managing Director and Client Partner (MDCP) Capita

Richard joined Capita in January 2021 as the Managing Director and Client Partner of the Defence, Fire and Security Vertical one of the largest strategic suppliers to the UK MOD. He leads a team of over 4000 people who enable the UK Armed Forces globally to deliver better outcomes at lower cost to taxpayers. 

After University, Richard commissioned into the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment and spent the next 20 years on a wide range of operations including Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Iraq and staff appointments in training and HR. His final appointment was Commanding the Military Corrective Training Centre, the Armed Forces Prison and Detention operation. 

On leaving the Army in 2008 Richard joined BT Group initially in the Global Services Division where he led Transformation and Operations for Multi-National Business before joining the Technology and Operations Division where he was accountable for Strategy and Service across the BT network and products.  In 2015 Richard joined the ISS Division of the MOD as the Chief Operating Officer helping to drive the transformation of the Defence Digital Estate. 

Prior to joining Capita Richard spent 4 years at Centrica on the Executive Leadership Team of British Gas charged with transforming the business from a legacy utility business into an agile Digital Business.  Over the life of the transformation Richard implemented the news ways of working including  scaled agile adopted the latest customer centric digital technology and reduced the cost to serve by £0.5Bn and grew the Service business by 36%.

In addition to an undergraduate degree from the University of Ulster, Richard studied management at Cranfield. Outside of work Richard lives on an island off the Essex coast close to his boats and his newfound passion of Paddle Boarding.   

Andy Cook

Trustee, Box Moor Trust

Andy is an elected Trustee of Box Moor Trust, based in Hemel Hempstead, a Charity managing 500 acres of local land that provides wide ranging support and education for the local young, elderly, and underprivileged community. In this role he sits on the finance and grants committee responsible for financial management and awarding grants to local charities and community groups.

He recently stepped down as CEO and majority shareholder of FFEI limited, a leading technology manufacturer in the life science and digital imaging markets following its sale to Xaar plc in 2021. During his 16 years as CEO, the company won 3 Queens Awards for Innovation and multiple awards for its advances in the field of digital pathology used for cancer diagnostics and research.

Andy is a qualified electronics engineer with a 30+ year career in digital imaging technologies and business management, and has held multiple directorship roles including at FUJIFILM, the global Japanese Imaging company and PICON, the Print industry confederation representing and promoting the interests of UK exporters and importers.

Andy currently runs his own business consultancy and is the non-exec Chair of Kepner-Tregoe Inc, a global management consultancy, specialising in the field of decision making and problem solving, a role he has held for over 12 years.

“It is a real honour to be supporting this year’s Soldiering On Awards. The awards provide such well-deserved recognition to people who do so many amazing things for the Armed Forces community.”

Julie Baker

Head of Enterprise and Community Finance, NatWest

Julie Baker is Head of Enterprise and Community Finance at NatWest with a 30+ year career in the world of banking, covering leadership roles and was ‘Highly Commended’ at last year’s Women in Finance awards for the program she oversees at NatWest supporting female entrepreneurs.

Julie has been heavily involved in the Rose Review, tackling barriers to female entrepreneurship, and is also responsible for leading the ongoing delivery of new and better ways to support enterprise within the NatWest SME customer base across the UK. She acts as an Enterprise ambassador, enhancing the profile of NatWest as the “go to” Bank for diverse business segments through high visibility across external influencing forums, the media and Government – an inspirational role model who is passionate about helping others succeed.


“NatWest is honoured to be supporting the 2021 Soldering On Awards in recognising the outstanding and inspirational achievements of the UK Armed Forces Community.”

Karen Porter

Head of Communications and Engagement, Landmarc Support Services

Karen is Head of Communications and Engagement at Landmarc Support Services, one of the founding corporate partners of X-Forces Enterprise (XFE), and has been a business captain with XFE since 2018. An avid supporter of the XFE community, Karen has supported numerous networking events and more recently been active in promoting the benefits of bringing veteran-owned businesses into the company’s supply chain. Landmarc has been working as a dedicated partner to the Ministry of Defence for nearly two decades, providing a range of specialist support services that enable our Armed Forces to live, work and train on the UK Defence Training Estate. Over a quarter of its employees are veterans, reservists or their families, instilling a sense of pride and passion in the company’s role in enabling our Armed Forces to deploy on frontline operations and return home safely.


“Having been involved with the SoldieringOn Awards for a number of years now, it’s a real privilege to join the judging panel this year. Landmarc’s responsibility as a partner to the Armed Forces extends across all our activities, so this opportunity to help champion the successes of our wider military communities is hugely inspiring and rewarding.”

Karen Tracey

Director, Dunelm Leaders

Karen Tracey, WRAF Veteran and founder of Dunelm Business Consultants, is the X-Forces Enterprise Ambassador for the West Midlands. Her business offers diverse coaching and leadership training, specifically designed to develop high growth businesses, with a specialism in leadership development for CEOs, Directors and senior Executives who are focusing on developing their personal leadership brand and capability. Karen is also Chair of the Birmingham UK Chapter for the Women Presidents’ Organisation (WPO), a peer learning network for women owned multimillion-dollar companies.

In 2017, Karen was awarded the Adrienne Hall Award for Breaking Down Barriers from the WPO, she is the Honorary Consul to Latvia for the West Midlands and a business board member of the Women in Enterprise All Party Parliamentary group.


“The Soldiering On Awards is an amazing platform to showcase the bravery and achievements of Veterans. This is something we should continue to do in order to support those who have served their country in so many ways.”

Mark Miller

Business Development Director – UK Defence, GKN Aerospace

Mark is the UK Business Development Director for GKN Aerospace, responsible for the market growth strategy and capability investment in Defence. Prior to this, he was the Vice President for UK Industry with Rolls-Royce Defence.

Mark served in the Army, as an engineer in REME, in many regions and conflict areas. He had full career from private soldier to commissioned officer.

“The awards recognise entreprenuers who follow their dream of business ownership on leaving the Armed Forces, some in face of adversity. They are an incredible advertisement for the adaptability and resilience of the AF community and I am proud to be associated with them.”

Laura Blair

Employment Director, The Officer’s Association

Laura is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served for 12 years in various roles including Head of Recruitment Operations and Head of HR Strategy & Operations (16 Air Assault Brigade). Since leaving the Army as a Major in 2012, Laura continued to contribute to the military community as COO for The Forces Employment Charity (RFEA).

She has a passion for education, development, diversity and inclusion. Laura has operated as Head of Client Management for the global learning company Maynard Leigh. She is also a qualified teacher, becoming Director of Learning and Assistant Principal at Coopers School Chislehurst. 

Laura’s varied career in the military, corporate, education and third sector gives her a unique perspective on the challenges and opportunities facing fellow officers as they transition from military to civilian employment. She is delighted to be back in the military charity sector as Employment Director, The Officer’s Association.

Lisa Marr

Security Culture & Mindset I Security Change and Delivery, Barclays

Lisa Marr is employed by Barclays to run the Veterans’ Employment Transition Support Programme. It’s the largest Veterans programme in the country; working with over 5,000 veterans, 170+ corporate partners and over a 1,000 mentors.

Serving 18 years in both the British Army and NZDF with transport units, training establishments, staff appointments and finally Squadron Command. During her career in the Army, she deployed on operations in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq.

Before finally leaving the uniform behind she served a further 5 years in an Employer Engagement role leaving to take on her current role in April 2019. In 2020 Lisa’s work with the military community was recognised winning one of the ‘We Are the City’ Rising Star Awards which highlights female talent in the UK.

“I am genuinely delighted to be one of the judges for this year’s Soldiering on Awards. These awards are a fantastic way to recognise publicly those members of our military community who go above and beyond to help others.”

Nikki Markham

Director, Battling On CiC.
Soldiering On Innovation Award Winner 2016.
Soldiering On Family Values Award Winner 2018

Nikki Markham established Battling On, a Community Interest Company, in 2012 to provide wrap around care, support and training to Veterans. Battling On has gone on to become a multi-award winning organisation that won the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in 2016.

“Over the years I have seen first-hand the impact the Soldiering On Awards have had, not only to the individual winners but their organisations and their local communities, bringing a deep sense of pride and achievement.”

Neil Jackson​

Chief Executive Officer, MoD Defence Relationship Management, Ministry of Defence

Jacko spent 23 years in the Army deploying around the globe on operations, jumping out of perfectly serviceable aircraft and playing rugby. Since leaving, and having cut his commercial teeth on some challenging MoD contracts, he has focused on following a career path that continues to serve the Armed Forces community.

He is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the MoD’s Defence Relationship Management responsible for delivering the employer and stakeholder engagement strands of the Armed Forces Covenant and the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme. Jacko is also a volunteer ‘Greyshirt’ with the international disaster relief organisation, Team Rubicon.


“I support the Soldiering On Awards because they shine a light on people who deserve recognition for everything they do to support the Armed Forces community and I thank them all.”

Ray Lock

Chair of Trustees, Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation

Air Vice-Marshal Ray Lock joined the Royal Air Force in 1977 and enjoyed a varied career as a fast-jet pilot and instructor, operational commander, and directing staff at the UK Staff College, from where he retired as Commandant in 2012 to join Forces in Mind Trust.

As the founding Chief Executive of Forces in Mind Trust, he led the Trust to forge close relationships with a range of public and private, academic and social sector bodies to establish its current position as the leading research commissioner, and an authority on a wide range of issues affecting the Armed Forces Community. The Trust also invested in improving the effectiveness of the Armed Forces charities sub-sector, including establishing the Working Together award.

Ray left the Trust in June last year to establish a charity consultancy (Ray Lock Ltd) and devote more time to his role as chair of trustees at the Sir Oswald Stoll Foundation, the foremost provider of supported housing for veterans and their families. Ray is a keen cyclist and Saracens supporter.

“Improving collaboration across the military charities sector is our key goal.  At Forces in Mind Trust we’re delighted to support Soldiering on Awards in recognizing those who inspire successful working together.”
Sheena Valentina

Sheena Valentina

Co-owner of CrossFit Spitfire

Sheena is a RAF Veteran, small business owner and co-owner of CrossFit Spitfire (previous SOA Award winner) based in Norwich.  Sheena has championed fitness and outreach programs within her community through her kids and teens fitness business since 2018, supporting a number of charity initiatives including promoting the inclusivity and participation of females in sport and fitness.

Sheena served in the RAF on a number of tours both on Operation Telic, and across the UK.  A qualified Nutrition specialist and fitness coach, Sheena works with a wide range of clients both remotely and in person, specialising in pre and post natal conditioning, and health mentoring.

A keen supporter of XFE, Sheena has supported a number of local and regional veteran networking events, and is thrilled to contribute as a judge for the Soldering On Awards.

John Mason

John Mason

Group Head of Pricing Reference Services

John Mason is the Group Head of Pricing Reference Services at Refinitiv. In this role, John and his team are responsible for ensuring that we are effectively addressing the industry’s regulatory challenges – of which MiFID is a particular focus area – and developing solutions across the entire product range to meet the evolving requirements of the financial market participants.

Prior to joining us, John ran the European Enterprise Solutions for Bloomberg and was also their Global Head of Regulatory Reporting. Before joining Bloomberg, he was the Chief Operating Officer for Core One Technologies prior to its sale to Markit.

Scott Davies

National Security and Defence team
Cisco Systems UK&I

Scott is an Account Manager in the National Security and Defence team at Cisco Systems UK&I, responsible for client relationships and enabling customers to understand the benefits of adopting Cisco technologies within a digital transformation plan in a hybrid world.  Prior to this, Scott held various CTO-related roles both in Cisco and in the military.  Scott served in the Army as an engineer in the Royal Corps of Signals, seeing service in various operational theatres.  Starting as a Signaller, Scott completed his military career as a Late Entry Commissioned Officer.


“Transformation from soldier to entrepreneur, delivering their passion as a successful, quantifiable business output is rightly celebrated within these awards.  Encapsulating attributes learnt over many years in the military and applying them to civilian life is also noteworthy, showing those yet to transition to civilian life anything is possible if you follow your dreams.  It is an honour to be associated with such a worthy award scheme and championing those businesses worthy of recognition.”

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