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.”
About this Award
The People’s Choice Award Finalists were selected by the Independent Judging Panel from nominations across all Award categories as shining examples of everything that the Soldiering On Awards represent. These outstanding Finalists epitomise the spirit of the Armed Forces Community and the Winner was selected by public vote. THANK YOU to everyone who took the time to vote earlier this year!
So, in this inspiring category that allowed YOU to vote for your favourite contender, our finalists were:
Lt Col Deborah Taylor – mastermind of the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) career fairs that motivate and inspire students.
Hector Duff OBE, MM. Ld’H – working tirelessly for decades for Veteran charities and helping WWII Veterans on the Isle of Man as they became infirm.
Matthew Ellmer – supporting the bereaved families of Grenadier Guards killed in action, and ensuring that their sons’ memories are kept alive.
Dawn Woodhouse MBE and Richard Woodhouse (Holidays for Heroes, Jersey) – welcoming Veterans and their families as guests to their home and, along with their fellow islanders, enabling them to relax and enjoy the beauty of Jersey.
You can read more about these finalists here.
We are delighted to announce that the Winner is…
Hector Duff OBE, MM. Ld’H
Centenarian Hector Duff OBE, MM, BEM, Legion d’Honneur, founded the Normandy Veterans’ Association Branch on the Isle of Man and has been Chairman of the Joint ex-Services Association on the Island. This remarkable man has worked tirelessly for decades for Veteran charities and in helping WWII Veterans as they became infirm. Hector is now the final remaining Normandy Veteran on the Island.
Hector is universally admired and his work and courage have been honoured with several awards, including a Military Medal for Gallantry in 1942, for his outstanding courage in Tunisia. In more recent years, he has been awarded both the Tynwald Honour, a medal that demonstrates an outstanding and selfless contribution to Manx life over a significant period of time, and the Manx Lifetime Award. In addition, Hector proudly received an Empire Medal (BEM) three years ago, followed by the Legion d’Honneur and an OBE. Most recently, at Hector’s 100th birthday celebrations at Government House, he was awarded an additional Special Veteran’s UK Commendation.
Still a highly respected speaker at 100 years of age, Hector is much in demand as a guest at all the schools on the Island, talking about the horrors and heroes of war. He speaks to a variety of audiences, including the five secondary schools, a public school and several primary schools. Indeed, it was the school children, assisted by their teachers, who initiated his citation for the BEM.
“His powerful impact has been upon the Islanders of all ages, including cadets, school children, politicians, charity workers and parents, who have seen in him all that is best in a man who has served his country.”
After the war, Hector became a highly praised police sergeant. He has been described as a unique personality, physically and morally brave, modest to a fault, selfless and helpful. His determination to preserve and enhance memorials to those who lost their lives through war, and his determination to aid those still suffering, is outstanding.
“He is loved and venerated by Islanders of all ages.”
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.”
A word from our Sponsor…
“Oracle is proud to support the Soldiering On Awards through the People’s Choice Award public vote. Each Finalist is a shining example of this amazing community and a vote for any of them is a clear message of overall support for the ethos and spirit of the Armed Forces community that they represent. They are all winners in their own right.”