Friends of the Forces Award

Prince Harry commended the British public for its response to their Armed Forces at an awards ceremony on Tuesday to recognise those who support Serving personnel and their families.

The Prince presented a Youth award at the the Friends of the Forces Awards and congratulated The Royal British Legion for the awards scheme to recognise those from across the UK who make an outstanding contribution to Service personnel and their families.

The awards are “an excellent idea,” he has said of the national awards scheme, “and I’m very proud to be involved with them.”

Hosted by historian and broadcaster Dan Snow, the awards recipients ranged from an 80- year-old political campaigner to two 12-year-old charity fundraisers. They included the bereaved parents of a soldier posthumously awarded the George Cross for gallantry, who responded to his loss by helping others overcome the mental and physical wounds of conflict.

Winners were chosen from 450 nominations nationwide by a panel of independent judges, chaired by the Chief of Defence Staff Air Chief Marshal Sir Jock Stirrup. Sir Jock presented a special President’s Award to BBC Radio 1 presenter Fearne Cotton and Richard Hatch of Forces broadcaster BFBS Radio to recognise a joint day of programming which put Service personnel in Afghanistan and 20 other countries around the world in direct touch with UK listeners.

During the May Bank Holiday, the BFBS studio in Camp Bastion linked live with BBC Radio 1 with messages, banter and a slice of Forces life in Afghanistan. BBC Radio 1 received over 25,000 texts and emails during the 10-hour link-up. Lt General Sir John Kiszely, National President of The Royal British Legion, presented a second President’s Award to the Portsmouth Herald’s Tristan Nichols, who has reported with the Royal Marines from Iraq, Afghanistan and Sierra Leone.

He also launched an appeal in memory of local soldiers which has raised £54,000 to date, and has been made an honorary Royal Marine by Plymouth’s 42 Commando. “The media play an important role in supporting our Armed Forces,” said Sir John. “Whether BBC Radio 1 and BFBS putting the British public in direct contact with its Armed Forces in Afghanistan, or Tristan Nichols reporting from hazardous conflict situations, they help to raise our awareness and appreciation of what the Armed Forces do on our behalf.”

BBC Defence Correspondent Caroline Wyatt presented a Communities Award to Bob and Jem Wright, who started the Mark Wright Project in Dalkeith following the loss of their son Cpl Mark Wright GC of 3rd Battalion The Parachute Regiment on active service in Afghanistan.

Other recipients included the Welsh Rugby Union for its support of Service personnel and charities, 12-year-old charity fundraisers Ben Coombes and Nathan Bull on behalf of the FitzWimarc School in Essex, and 80-year-old campaigner Stanley Power, who has lobbied the Welsh Assembly for better provisions for Service families.