2022 Independent Judging Panel

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.

General the Lord Dannatt GCB CBE MC DL

Co-chair of Judges, Soldiering On Awards

Richard Dannatt was a soldier for forty years, concluding his military career as Chief of the General Staff – the professional head of the British Army. Since retiring from active duty in 2009, he was Constable of the Tower of London until July 2016 and, in 2011, he became an independent member of the House of Lords. He is a Deputy Lieutenant for both Greater London and Norfolk.

Lord Dannatt is a frequent commentator on defence and security issues in the media, and he is also on several boards in the private and charitable sectors. He holds a number of other appointments including President of Help for Heroes, and is a Trustee of the Normandy Memorial Trust, which is putting a national memorial in Normandy to mark the 75th anniversary of D Day.

He published his autobiography: “Leading from the Front” in 2010, with a second book: “Boots on the Ground – Britain and her Army since 1945” in October 2016.

Debra Allcock-Tyler

CEO of The Directory of Social Change

Debra is Soldiering On Awards Co-chair of Judges a position she shares with Lord Dannatt.  She has been the Chief Executive of the Directory of Social Change (DSC) since 2001. DSC exists to support charities to serve their communities and their causes and reaches around 15,000 charities a year through its work. She is a Trustee of In-Kind Direct, a Trustee of the Berkshire Community Foundation,  an AAF (Africa Advocacy Foundation) Ambassador for Women and Girls at risk of, or affected by, FGM and other harmful practices and, until very recently, was the Vice Chair of Governors of White Knights Primary School. She was the founder Chair of the Small Charities Coalition. She was a member of the Charity Commission’s SORP Committee for 7 years.

Debra is particularly proud of her 15 years as a voluntary Trade Union Officer and the year she spent working with Youth at Risk. She is a mentor to a number of CEOs and Chairs of Trustee Boards. Debra is a renowned authority in the field of leadership and governance in civil society, and an internationally published author.

Anne-Marie Piper

Senior Partner Farrer & Co

Anne-Marie Piper is recognised as a leading expert in charity law. She has built a formidable reputation for her work on complex mergers and regulatory cases, as well as playing a defining role in establishing charity law as a specialist legal discipline. She combines her client practice with the role of Senior Partner at Farrer & Co.

Neil Jackson - SOA

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.”

David Richmond CBE

Independent Veterans Advisor and Vice Chair of the Veterans Advisory Board

David Richmond spent 26 years as an infantry officer and was medically discharged after being seriously wounded in Afghanistan while Commanding Officer of 5 SCOTS. He joined Help for Heroes as their first Recovery Director in 2012 and created their recovery services from scratch. Leaving Help for Heroes in 2017 he started his own consultancy, which he left when he was invited to become the first and interim Director of the Office for Veterans Affairs in the Cabinet Office. He left the OVA in April 2021 and is now the Government’s first Independent Veterans Advisor and Vice Chair of the Veterans Advisory Board.

“It’s a privilege to be involved in the Soldiering On Awards which celebrates the fantastic work done by individuals and organisations big and small in support of the Armed Forces Community across the country every day.”

Jessie Owen - Soldiering on Awards

Jessie Owen

Director, Office for Veterans' Affairs

Jessie Owen is Director of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs in the Cabinet Office, a role she took up in April 2021. Prior to this she was a Deputy Director in the government’s COVID Taskforce and has broad experience working across government.

She has most recently worked on a range of cross-government priorities in national security policy and strategy, including developing legislation, building international partnerships and leading external communications.

“It is a privilege to be judging this year’s Soldiering On Awards and seeing the wealth of talent and excellence that our veteran community has to offer. The Awards go to the heart of what the Office for Veterans’ Affairs are trying to achieve in championing our veterans and showcasing their contributions”.

Helen Helliwell - Soldiering on Awards

Helen Helliwell

Director, Armed Forces People Policy. Ministry of Defence

Helen is the Director for Armed Forces People Policy in the Ministry of Defence. The portfolio’s aim is to attract, retain and then transition well members of the Armed Forces by providing a modern offer across accommodation; remuneration; modern terms and conditions of service; health, wellbeing and welfare; the Service Justice system and implementation of the Armed Forces Covenant across serving people, their families and Veterans.  

Helen is also the Chair of the Armed Forces Covenant Trust Fund which receives £10m of funding each year to support our Armed Forces Community. 


“It is inspiring to be involved and see the many ways that serving and former serving members of the Armed Forces, and their families, make such significant contributions to wider society.”

Brigadier (Retd) Robin Simpson

Professor of Military Primary Healthcare and Veterans Health, University of Chester

Brigadier (Retd) Robin Simpson left the Army in Jan 2020 after 35 years of service as a military General Practitioner (GP). His last appointment was as the Postgraduate Dean of the Defence Medical Services. He now has a number of roles including as a GP in Hampton in Arden. He is a RAMC Colonel Commandant with a particular interest in supporting military medical research.

He is the RCGP Veterans Champion responsible for making NHS GPs more aware of veteran’s health issues, promoting the Veterans Friendly GP Practice accreditation programme. He is the Professor of Military Primary Healthcare and Veterans Health University of Chester.


“Judging the SOA is a fantastic honour in support of the military community with nominees demonstrating incredible achievements and ambitions. Reading the citations always leaves me awestruck.”

Martin Taylor

Co-Founder and Deputy CEO, Redwood Technologies Group

Martin Taylor is the Co-Founder and Deputy CEO of Redwood Technologies Group, a leading global communications technology provider. Martin’s responsibilities include the business’s fast-growing healthcare and public sector practice.

A pioneer in cloud communications, Martin has been active in growing his business group around the world, since setting up its first company in the UK at the age of 22. Describing himself as a leading armchair military historian, Martin is a regular guest lecturer on strategy and entrepreneurship at the business school of King’s College London, his alma mater.


“As a long-time supporter of Soldiering On, I am delighted to join the judging panel once again. Every year I find myself amazed and humbled by the nominees’ commitment to their endeavours, often against all odds. I am looking forward to celebrating more inspiring examples of strength and selflessness in the 2022 Soldiering On Awards.”