If you joined us for our Zoom ceremony to honour this year’s business category finalists and find out who won, you’ll know what an incredible afternoon it was! If you weren’t able to join the virtual celebration, here’s the winner of the coveted 2021 Soldiering On Business Community Impact Award. (You can also now see the winners of the Business Start Up and Scale Up Awards.)
This exciting ceremony was hosted by TV presenter Radzi Chinyanganya, who was delighted to meet such an incredible mix of business people running an eclectic range of companies. The event was attended by the category finalists and sponsors, Patron Of the Soldering on Awards, the Rt. Hon. Earl Howe; Jessie Owen, Director of the Office for Veterans’ Affairs; David Wiseman, Director of Grants and Programmes at the Invictus Games; and Lieutenant General Richard Nugee CB CVO CBE.
The Earl Howe, Patron of the Soldiering On Awards said:
“These Awards recognise and acknowledge the enormous efforts and achievements from many people across the military community who help and support those in need; volunteers, charity teams, public servants, social enterprises, veterans themselves, individuals, employees… the wider military community is incredibly diverse!
“That help and support manifests itself in acts of kindness, the raising of money, provision of services, tremendous acts of courage or endeavour and ultimately doing great things to support those who have served.
“Our service men and women take part in military campaigns at the behest of the Government and on behalf of us all. They deserve not only our respect and thanks, but also our support. Thank you to all our finalists, many of whom are veterans themselves, for being exemplar in providing that support.”
Our finalists were:
Nigel Seaman – Combat2Coffee – training veterans suffering with mental health issues or leaving custodial sentences to work as barristas, then helping them to find employment in the growing coffee shop sector.
Paul Matson – Hull 4 Heroes – creator of the ‘Veterans’ Street’ as seen on BBC’s DIY SOS, Paul is currently building the world’s first transitional village for veterans and their families.
John Lodge – Hexitime CiC – brokering workforce skill with demand to successfully provide financial and time savings for the public sector, leading to higher performing, satisfied and more cost-effective workforces.
You can read more about these finalists here.
We are delighted to announce that the Winner of the Business Community Impact Award is…
Nigel Seaman – Combat2Coffee
Combat2Coffee was founded in 2018 by former soldier Nigel Seaman as a Community Interest Company. Nigel was recovering from depression and PTSD, and wanted to help other veterans suffering with mental health issues, so he trains them as barristas, then helps them to find employment in the growing coffee shop sector.
Initially, Nigel converted a caravan and horse-box into mobile coffee shops helped by a team of veterans from all three services. These were taken to events to generate the revenue required to cover their operating expenses. Importantly, they also became places where veterans could meet for companionship.
After seeing Nigel on TV, the Governor of HM Prison Hollesley Bay invited him to create the “Lansbury” coffee shop within the prison. Residents working on the project included veterans coming to the end of long sentences. The personal skills and self-confidence they have gained will enable them to work for Combat2Coffee on release, with a proper wage and access to peer group mentors. Further facilities have since opened, where veterans can gain valuable work experience.
“Despite problems caused by Covid – and Nigel having a leg amputated – Combat2Coffee has extended its reach, especially among veterans serving custodial sentences. Other prisons would now like to replicate the experience.”
The Landsbury is self -funding, with the cost of refurbishing minimised by companies donating materials as part of their community engagement programmes.
“The company now roasts its own beans which has reduced costs and enables it to sell high quality coffee at reasonable prices to a number of outlets including schools, service units and charities – as well as a growing monthly subscription delivery service.”
Nigel Seaman said:
“I’ll probably get emotional… It means a lot – not just to me, but also for the narrative around mental health. I’ve been diagnosed with PTSD from the services. After much deliberation I went to Combat Stress and did the intensive trauma programme. I had a coffee machine in my room and I realised all the other guys came to my room for a decent brew, and through that, started talking about our issues and concerns. Because of my journey, and the journey I know others suffer, this award raises the profile of this even more.
“Thanks to all the finalists too – they’ve kept me on my toes all week!”
Lt Colonel Ren Kapur MBE, CEO of X-Forces Enterprise and Soldiering On Awards said:
“We are delighted to congratulate these inspirational winners and it was incredibly special to gather everyone together and celebrate our amazing community after such a challenging 18 months.
“These virtual events have allowed us all to come together and celebrate once more, as we build-up to our glamorous in-person Gala Dinner on December 15th. Having not had the opportunity to celebrate in-person since 2019, this December will be the military gala dinner of the year and being able to have everyone together for a night of celebration is something that we’ve all needed for some time. I’m very much looking forward to shining a light on the incredible armed forces community.
A word from our Sponsor…
Scott Davies, CTO Defence said:
Cisco are proud to be associated with the Soldiering On Awards, X-Forces Enterprise and the British Armed Forces. Many of you may have heard of Cisco and I suppose without some of the technology that we sell these sorts of virtual events cannot go ahead. So, in more ways than one we are delighted to support this afternoon’s event. It is humbling to see the work people have done and all of the finalists have our total admiration.
The next two Thursdays will see the other winners revealed during exciting Zoom events. If you’d like to join the audience, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.