2023 Category Award Judges

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.

Adrian Peters

CTP Ops Director

Adrian has worked with Right Management since 2019 and is the Career Transition Partnership (CTP) Operations Director, responsible for all operational aspects of the CTP. 

The CTP provides support to over 13,000 Service leavers per year and its contribution to the Manpower Group has been recognised, receiving the prestigious Manpower Power Award. 

Adrian joined Right Management as the CTP Head of Transition, prior to this Adrian was the CTP Head of Employment for 5 years.  His background is operational delivery, underpinned by data analysis to be able to drive continuous improvement and empower staff at all levels. He leads the CTP’s Senior Management Team overseeing the delivery of all aspects of the CTP in accordance with MOD policy and contractual conditions.  

Before joining Right Management, Adrian served in the Army for 18 years, since leaving Adrian has spent the last 15 years working in the employment area.  Adrian led a charitable consortium that delivered the first employment pathway for Early Service Leavers and subsequently created and delivered the Recovery Career Services, a partnership between the MoD, Service Charities and Right Management, to deliver the first bespoke employment service for the most seriously Wounded, Injured & Sick Service Personnel.   


“Right Management is delighted to able to sponsor an award and to be part of an event to celebrate all that is good about the Armed Forces community.” 

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

Director Of Grants & Quality. 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

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!”

Caroline Cooke

Head of Policy, Forces in Mind Trust

From 2003 to 2016 she worked for the Charity Commission as Head of Policy Engagement and Research.  Prior to that Caroline worked at the disability charity Scope in a range of roles, including as acting Head of Public Policy and Research. More recently Caroline moved from the Charity Commission back into the charity sector where she worked at the British Geriatrics Society; the membership body for health professionals working with older people, to establish their policy and influencing function. Caroline has been Head of Policy at Forces in Mind Trust since 2019.  She holds an MSc in Voluntary Sector Organisation and Administration from the London School of Economics. 


“It is a privilege to be on the judging panel for the Working Together Award.   Forces in Mind Trust is delighted to be celebrating the successes of the nominees, achieved through their ability to build relationships and collaborate with others to make a positive difference to people’s lives.”   

Douglas Badham

Partner, Curzon Consulting

Doug has over 25 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 over ten years these awards have shone a light on inspirational stories of immense challenges overcome, and stunning personal and business achievements.” 


Nick Wood

Nick Wood MSc FHEA |Armed Forces and Uniformed Services Manager - York St John University

Nick who served in the Royal Navy, launched the Veterans in Custody support model for HMPPS in 2010. He joined York St John University in 2012 and developed the Military Human: Understanding Military Culture and Transition CPD training to enable community-based staff and practitioners to understand military lifestyle, culture and transition to civilian life. The independently evaluated CPD has been delivered to over 30 organisations including staff from Local Authorities, Businesses, Military Charities, MOD, CJS, NHS Veterans TIL/CTS/HIS teams and NHS Trusts across England and Wales with nearly 5000 staff trained. YSJU students receive lectures to provide the military culture understanding skills for use in their future careers, importantly aligned to new NHS armed forces community policy. Nick has collaborated on research into military families, veterans in the CJS, and contributed to the FIMT Lifting our Sights project. Ongoing work includes working closely with MOD and NHS colleagues to explore the transition and adjustment experience, and with YSJU colleagues, exploring similarities between the professional sport and military transition and adjustment experience. He sits on several NHS, Council and AF Network groups and was a SOA finalist in 2018.  


“It is a great honour and privilege to be part of the SOA awards judging process, and something I greatly value. Having the opportunity to read the nominations is a humbling experience that demonstrates the resilience, skills and positive spirit the armed forces community thrives on. Importantly, the SOA awards shine a light on the incredible people who undertake their own recovery journeys or every day and selflessly, provide support to others and their families when they need it most” 

Gina Allsop

SOA 2022 Inspiration Award Winner

Gina Allsop is a former Royal Signals Solider, being deployed to many operations during her service, she recently won the esteemed Soldiering On, Inspiration Award 2022 for her charity and volunteering work for military, youth and animal charities.   


Gina, is a fundraiser & motivational public speaker at charity events for SSAFA the armed forces charity, Sporting Force and other organisations. She has volunteered as an adult instructor for the Army Cadet Force for the last 9 years, teachers for Animal Aid in schools and volunteers as a Marine Mammal medic for British Driver Marine Life Rescue.  


Passionate about helping those suffering from mental health having her own struggles in the past, she is now an ambassador for End Suicide. Gina has set up and funded an art foundation for cancer patients in memory of her Brother. To help patients have place were they can forget about the disease for a while.  She edited and wrote a poetry book for charity that highlights the service of our military and is a conduit for mental wellbeing. Now she is also an ambassador for The Purple Warriors a veteran’sDragon Boat Team, which brings veterans together by sport and is a lifeline to its members. 


“ Winning a Soldiering on Award meant the world to me last year, being asked to come back this year as a judge is a true honour and I am humbled to now be part of this important journey for the nominees. I look forward to reading all the inspirational nominations”   



Duncan Bruce OBE

Global Vice President – Customer Experience Strategic Clients - Oracle

Duncan leads Customer Experience for Strategic Clients Group at Oracle.   He has spent the last 15 years working for Oracle in various roles, including Global Programme Director responsible for major programs and Regional Head of Support Services for UK, Ireland and Israel.      

Prior to working in the Information Technology industry Duncan had a 28-year career as an officer in the British Army.  He was trained at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and commissioned into The Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1980.  Career highlights include commanding an Infantry Company on operations in Bosnia, an Armoured Infantry Battalion in Iraq and as Chief of Staff of the United Nations military operation in Sierra Leone.  He completed his Masters in International Relations at King’s College London in 2001.  He was awarded an MBE in 1999 and subsequently an OBE in 2004, both for leadership on operations. 

Outside work Duncan enjoys time with his family in the Cotswolds.  He plays the odd round of golf (badly), is a keen skier, sailor, gardener and when he puts his feet up enjoys watching rugby.   

“Oracle is proud to continue our support of the Armed Forces Community through sponsoring the Soldiering On Awards 2023, Lifetime Achievement Award.” 

Paul Carney

Warrant Officer Class One

WO1 Carney was born in November 1979 in Gosport and joined the Army in January 1997 as a combat engineer and electrician in the Royal Engineers. He has exercised around the world and operated in Macedonia, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.  


WO1 Carney’s Junior and Senior Non-Commissioned Officer roles were spread between close support armoured engineering and general support engineering. As a Quartermaster Sergeant Instructor, he taught Troop Commanders and Sergeants Combat Engineering specialising on Demolitions and Bridging at the Royal Engineer Warfare Wing. He was the Squadron Sergeant Major of 20 Field Squadron, 36 Engineer Regiment as it transitioned to a Route Proving and Clearance role.  


After serving as Regimental Sergeant Major at 22 Engineer Regiment WO1 Carney has since served as 3rd (United Kingdom) Division Command Sergeant Major, the Field Army Command Sergeant Major and as a student on the Intermediate Command and Staff Course (Land). In July 2021 he was appointed the 3rd British Army Sergeant Major. 

WO1 Carney is married to Kathryn with two children: Nicole and Ethan.  He has a BA (Hons) in Leadership and Management and is currently studying at master’s level.  His enjoys CrossFit, running, kayaking and adventure training. 

Tom McBarnet

Chief Executive, Forces in Mind Trust

Tom McBarnet was appointed FiMT Director of Programmes in 2018 and Chief Executive in 2022.  He previously worked for NHS Digital in its transformation agenda to drive forward digital implementation in the wider NHS. Prior to that he was a career Royal Navy officer whose appointments spanned service in submarines and ships of all types as well as UK MoD, tri service and international defence and security policy roles. 

“At Forces in Mind Trust, we know that the most positive change happens when organisations and individuals collaborate and coordinate. We are therefore delighted to sponsor the Working Together Award to recognise leaders who do exactly this, setting a clear example for others to follow.”   

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

Head of Ex-Forces Pathway Centrica

Laura is a graduate of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst and served in the Army for 12 years; roles included Head of Recruitment Operations London and Head of HR 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) and most recently as Director of Employment for the Officers’ Association. She has a passion for education and development. Laura has operated as Head of Client Management for the global learning company Maynard Leigh. She is also a qualified History and Politics teacher, becoming Assistant Principal at Coopers School, Chislehurst.  


Laura joined Centrica in September 2022 as Head of Programme for their UK Ex-Forces Pathway.  The aim is to attract, engage and hire more Service Leavers, Veterans, Reservists and Military Spouses/Partners into rewarding careers across Centrica, from junior to senior hire. 

“Centrica is delighted to be a sponsor of Soldiering On Awards 2023.  We are exceptionally proud to play a part in recognising the outstanding and humbling achievements of those within and across the Armed Forces community.” 

Lisa Marr

Director Colleague Engagement I Chief Security Office I Barclays

Lisa Marr is the Director globally responsible for Security Awareness, Behaviour, Culture and reducing the human risk for Barclays. 

Prior to this role she was employed by Barclays to run the Veterans’ Employment Transition Support Programme, which was the largest Veterans programme in the country. 


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 in 2019, she served a further 5 years in an Employer Engagement role for 4 Brigade HQ. 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.”

Darren Elsey

Regional Operations Manager North for Landmarc Support Services

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.”

Sip Powers

Director of Extreme Outdoors. Life Time Achievement Award Winner 2022.

Sip set up Extreme Outdoors prior to being medically discharged from the HM Forces after 34 years’ service in March 2022. The company is designed to help wounded soldiers and veterans to have the ability to get out into the great outdoors to assist with their personal development, mental health and wellbeing.  


In 2021 he qualified as a UIMLA Professional Mountaineer and in 2022 became the first ever Lancashire County Representative for Combat Stress assisting over 300,000 veterans in his region. After supporting BattleBack for over a decade as the DMRC Exped Chief Instructor and completing a number of gruelling endurance charity events most recently the Enduro7 last year, Sip won the Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022. He continues to support Combat Stress and will complete another epic challenge in August 2023, the Enduro214. All 214 Wainwright summits in the Lake District covering a total distance of 525km and over 36,000m of ascent…in one sitting! 

“It was an absolute honour to have even been nominated for an award let alone win last year. So, to be asked to be part of the judging panel is extremely humbling. I am looking forward to reading about all the amazing achievements for this year’s nominees.”   

Clair Mowbray

Director of Learning Delivery and Transformation at Capita’s Fire Service College

Clair is Director of Learning Delivery and Transformation at Capita’s Fire Service College. The Fire Service College delivers training to all blue light services and to Defence Fire and Rescue Services.   Since joining the College Clair has been leading on embedding digitally enabled technical training at the FSC.  


Prior to working at the Fire Service College, Clair the founding CEO of the National College for Advanced Transport and Infrastructure, establishing a state-of-the-art training facility to support major infrastructure projects such as HS2.  During her tenure Clair championed diversity in the rail industry creating inclusive entry routes to training. 


Over the last 20 years she has worked in the field of technical education and training.    During this time, she has contributed to the development of technical training policy, established new training solutions and supported providers to deliver high quality outcomes. 

“High quality, engaging Learning and Development is something that everyone should have access to and be able to benefit from.  Capita is delighted to be sponsoring this award.  Having the opportunity to hear about the great work that is taking place is a privilege.” 

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.

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.”

Sally Orange MBE

Inspirational Speaker, Army Cadet Force National Ambassador, 2022 and 2020 Soldiering On Awards Winner

Following medical discharge after a 22 year career in the Royal Army Medical Corps as a Physiotherapy Officer, Sally is now committed to breaking the stigma associated with mental illness.
She does this through taking on gruelling endurance challenges (dressed as different pieces of fruit!), to raise both awareness and funds for charity, to ensure others get the help they need much sooner than she did.  

Sally regularly speaks openly about her own lived experience on this topic and also champions young people and veterans through her role as a National ambassador for the Army Cadet Force, encouraging them to get active, motivated and live a fulfilling life which in turn has a significant positive impact on society.

Sarah Woodward

Commercial and Marketing Manager Pets at Home Limited

Sarah has over 20 years’ experience marketing products and services in FMCG, Retail and Healthcare sectors. She joined Pets at Home in 2014, helping to develop the newly formed pet loyalty scheme – The VIP Club. Sarah understands the power of pets and the positive impact pet relationship can have on people. Pets are a valued member of the family. 

Pets at Home are currently the longest standing corporate sponsor of the Soldiering on Awards – something which they claim with great pride. 

“The Soldiering on Awards are true recognition of resilience, community and positivity. I am very proud to be associated with the awards and to be invited to the judging panel is an absolute privilege.” 

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.

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