Tonight, Thursday 15th October, has been one of the most nail-biting and eagerly anticipated events of the Soldiering On Awards’ virtual calendar! Tonight saw the announcements of the winners in our public vote categories: Animal Partnership and People’s Choice, as well as the highly coveted Inspiration Award. This tremendous Zoom event brought together the finalists of these categories, along with their nominators, sponsors, judges, colleagues, families and friends.
One outstanding moment that’s worth a special mention was when SOA Ambassador, Carly Paoli, sang Happy Birthday to one of our finalists in the People’s Choice category. The charming, inspirational hero of the Isle of Man, Hector Duff OBE, MM. Ld’H celebrated his 101st birthday – and we were so thrilled to share his special moment!
Tonight’s ceremony was hosted by RAF Veteran, best-selling author, and SOA Ambassador, John Nichol.
The ceremony was also attended by the category finalists and sponsors, judges including Vice-President of the Soldiering On Awards, Debra Allcock-Tyler; Helen Helliwell, Defence People and Families (MOD), Gavin Paton, Army Sergeant Major, and WO1 Glenn Haughton OBE, Senior Enlisted Advisor to the Chiefs of Staff Committee.
As the winners found out, the news was simultaneously shared across social media channels.
The Earl Howe, Patron of the Soldiering On Awards said: “Despite the new virtual backdrop, the evening was a tremendous hour of celebration. All the finalists’ achievements cover an impressively wide range, from driving change in the Armed Forces environment and supporting our veterans’ community, to fields beyond Service life – be that sport, business, charity-work or public service.
“As the scope and prominence of these Awards has increased with each passing year, they add ever more value through the strong and positive messages that recognition gives to the vital and impressive work being done by our Nominees, Finalists and Winners in their communities.
“Huge congratulations to ALL our fantastic 2020 winners and finalists. Each and every one of you is an inspiration to us all.”
Our finalists were:
Lee Spencer – the first physically disabled person to have rowed an ocean solo, rowing unsupported for 3,500 miles in a record-breaking 60 days.
Nikki Scott, Founder of Scotty’s Little Soldiers – making the bereaved children of military personnel smile again.
Sally Orange – raising funds and awareness of mental health issues through sport and physical challenges; Sally has completed 46 marathons dressed as pieces of fruit!
You can read more about these finalists here.
We are delighted to announce that the Winner is…
Although battling daily with her own mental illness, Sally Orange has made it her crusade to raise awareness, funds and support for her colleagues through sport and physical challenges. She has completed 46 marathons dressed as different pieces of fruit, including 150 miles across the Sahara and a 100 mile run across a frozen lake in Mongolia. In addition, she has swum the English Channel and cycled the length of New Zealand.
Sally champions and encourages women and people with invisible illnesses to achieve greater self-belief through participation. An Invictus Games medallist and 7 x World Record holder, she was the founder of the first all-female wounded, injured and sick team to complete the 3,070 mile Race Across America, the world’s toughest cycle race. The team completed the race in 8 days and 12 minutes – a first in the event’s 38 year history. Sally’s commitment to seeking £100,000 sponsorship was phenomenal, and her team won the ‘Spirit of RAAM Award’ for exceptional teamwork and sportsmanship.
“It is difficult to think of anyone who has given so much, across so many spheres, in support of the wounded, injured and sick members of our armed forces.”
On top of these remarkable sporting achievements, Sally has given 21 years’ service to the Army Reserve and was deployed to Afghanistan. She has inspired many patients through her work as a military physiotherapist treating wounded and injured Army Reservists returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Sally mentors, educates and inspires a wide and eclectic audience, and she has raised £30,000 in support of numerous military charities.
“It is impossible to deny that Maj Orange is anything other than an inspiration.”
Lt Colonel Ren Kapur MBE, CEO of X-Forces Enterprise and Co-Chair of the Soldiering On Awards said:
“Yet another incredible group of winners and finalists, I am humbled and proud to be part of the Armed Forces Family and what we together stand for. The last four weeks of celebration have been so wonderful. It has been especially poignant to gather everyone together and celebrate our amazing community in these challenging times.”
“Next week I will be hosting a livestream event, alongside Jade Callaway, BFBS Broadcaster, live from the BFBS Studio in Chalfont St Peter. Please join us in celebrating all of the finalists, winners, judges and sponsors for 2020 before we unveil the e winner of the 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award.”
General Sir John McColl KCB CBE DSO, Chairman of Cobseo, the Confederation of Service Charities and Soldiering On Awards Judge said: “The Soldiering On Awards is a wonderful opportunity for the Armed Forces Community to come together to celebrate and reflect on the contributions made by those who dedicate themselves to support others.
“Whilst we still cannot be together, we can all give thanks to those who selflessly support those who need a helping hand at a time when this has rarely been more important. Congratulations to all those nominated and the winners – thank you for everything you do.”
About this Award…
Whilst all the Finalists and every nominee for a Soldiering On Award is inspirational, this category honours the people or groups that were specifically nominated as such by the people who put them forward. This award therefore recognises people or groups that have overcome significant challenges, injury or disability, and whose ongoing or past outstanding achievements are an inspiration to others.
A word from our Sponsor…
“NatWest is honoured to be supporting the virtual 2020 Soldiering On Awards in recognising truly inspirational people and teams, profiling the outstanding achievements of current and former service men and women, their families and all those who support the Armed Forces Community.”
Julie Baker, Head of Enterprise & Community Finance, NatWest