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Press release about Soldiering On Awards 2020

As we celebrate Armed Forces Day, who will you nominate for a Soldiering On Award 2020?

The 2019 Soldiering On Awards. The evening was hosted by Carol Vorderman, an Honorary Group captain in the RAF and former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers. From the 11-year old son of a veteran, to those who fought in the Second World War, the Awards brought together the ex-military and serving community for a night of celebration. Photographer Graeme Main Schmooly

As the country comes together to celebrate the work of the Royal Navy, RAF and Army on Armed Forces Day, The Soldiering On Awards is asking who will you nominate for their outstanding contributions to the Military Community?

Nominations open today (29th June) for these prestigious Awards, which will be celebrating their 10th Anniversary. We are seeking nominations across 12 Awards categories to recognise the inspirational achievements of serving and former members of the Armed Forces and all the volunteers, teams, organisations and members of the public who support this amazing community.

Nominations for a 13th Award, the People’s Choice Award, are selected by the judges from all the category nominations. This process is led by General Lord Dannatt. From Sporting Excellence to Family Values and from Business of the Year to those championing Inclusivity with the Armed Forces, there is a breadth of opportunities to nominate those who inspire you.

Nominations close on the 30th September 2019. All those who have been shortlisted will be invited to a special Finalists Reception at the House of Lords in February, with the winners being announced at a prestigious black-tie event on 24th April 2020. The finalists will all be the guests of the event sponsors and organisers to honour their achievements.

Awards Patron the Rt Hon Earl Howe PC Minister of State for Defence said: “The Soldiering On Awards recognise the bravest and most selfless of the military community, and give us the opportunity to pay tribute to those who do so much in the support of the armed forces.

“I encourage everyone to nominate anyone who has gone above and beyond to improve the lives of those who have served their country, to show them how grateful we are for their vital work.”

See the section below about Luke Sinnott, seen here receiving a prize at the 2010 Awards

Ren Kapur MBE, Founder and CEO X-Forces Enterprise and Co-chair SOA said: “Today (29th June), we are celebrating Armed Forces Day, commemorating the valiant service of men and women in the British
Armed Forces. The Soldiering On Awards take this commemoration a step – or rather a giant leap – forward, beyond this one day of celebration. We ensure that anyone from within the military family who has inspired, achieved or overcome the toughest hurdles has the chance to shine more

Mandy Small, whose 11-year-old son Jamie won the Family Values Award in 2019 said: “Winning a Soldiering On Award has been amazing for Jamie, he’s so proud to have recognition from the very people he wants to help. He’s had strangers say “thank you and well done” since winning. Since the
Awards I’ve been given a chance to speak publicly about our story which is something I want to pursue. Winning the award has changed both our lives for the better and has ignited both our passions to do more in the future”.

It couldn’t be easier to nominate: We value your time and have made the nomination process straight-forward. Partially completed nominations can be saved and returned to. Simply, go to:

The Awards Categories open for Nominations are:

  1. Healthcare & Rehabilitation Award: Honouring a person or team who have demonstrated a major commitment and contribution in support of the physical or mental welfare of serving or former members of the armed forces community through healthcare, therapeutic treatment or rehabilitation services and support.
  2. Family Values Award: Honouring a person, family or group whose selfless commitment, dedication and support for others in the Armed Forces Community ensures that they are cared for, supported or helped. This selfless act is therefore a shining example to society.
  3. Sporting Excellence Award: Honouring a person or team who have; overcome challenges, inspired others, and demonstrated outstanding achievements in the field of sport.
  4. Inspiration Award: Honouring a person or group who have overcome significant challenges, injury or disability and whose ongoing and past outstanding achievements and behaviours are an inspiration to others.
  5. Animal Partnership Award: Honouring the unique relationships and companionship provided by animals, and/or the achievements of individuals/organisations engaged with animals that support
    and/or empower members of the Armed Forces Community.
  6. Lifetime Achievement Award: Honouring a person or group whose lifetime of dedicated service has provided a significant contribution in support of the Armed Forces Community.
  7. Working Together Award: Honouring a person, team or organisation that has demonstrated an enduring commitment and collaborative approach, engaging with external organisations supporting
    the sector within the wider community.
  8. Education, Training and Development Award: Recognising excellence in the provision of vocational education, training or skills in support of preparatory, ongoing, or transitional development, for members of the wider Armed Forces Community.
  9. Defence Inclusivity Award: Recognising the commitment and achievements of individuals and organisations in achieving greater diversity and inclusion throughout the Armed Forces Community.
  10. Business of the Year – Start Up Award: Honouring a new business, that was started by an individual linked with the armed forces who still retains a minimum of 51% interest in the venture and that has been in business for less than two years.
  11. Business of the Year – Scale Up Award: Honouring a business that has been established over two years ago, started by an individual linked with the armed forces and who still retains a minimum of 51% interest in the venture.
  12. Business of the Year – Community Impact Award: Honouring a business, that was started up by an individual linked with the armed forces, that has made a real impact to the Armed Forces Community

Luke’s inspirational life after Afghanistan

‘Is anybody hurt?’ 

The question he barked out to his team moments after impact. No one heard, everyone’s ears still ringing from the power of the blast, his own included. One ear drum perforated, the other badly damaged. Through the thick dust cloud he tried to grapple for his weapon, but his arms wouldn’t move. Realisation. It was him.  In the seconds and minutes that followed, Luke’s team worked fiercely and fearlessly to save his life. They wound tourniquets round his legs and arms, lifted his broken body onto a stretcher and lay their own bodies across his to protect his open wounds as the blades of the descending chinook whisked dust and debris into the air. Still barking orders until the moment he was in the helicopter and then his last order; ‘Knock me out.’

It was the 20th November 2010, when Luke’s life took a catastrophic turn. While out on patrol in Helmand Province, Afghanistan in his role as a Royal Engineer Search Advisor (RESA), he stepped on, and detonated an IED. The blast claimed both his legs above the knee, severely damaged his left arm, and broke multiple bones and fingers on his right. He also sustained severe damage to his lungs and shrapnel to his face and torso. He was airlifted to Bastion where surgeons began the amputation of his limbs and stabilizing him for the flight back to Birmingham. He would spend the next 2 weeks fighting for his life in an induced coma and the following 7 weeks in and out of surgery while doctors tried to repair and retain as much of his limbs as they could.

With life changing injury, comes a life changing decision. Do or die. Luke had to decide if this was going to get the best of him, or he of it. For him, however, it was never in doubt. He battled his injuries head on and always considered his glass to be half full, even during times when it was almost empty. His incredible inner strength powered him on, helping him to overcome any number of hurdles and endure the excruciating pain of intense rehabilitation. His personal mantra; Never give up. Failure is not an option. He still had life and he was going to live it.

“After losing my legs, running was the thing I missed the most. That feeling of moving fast under my own steam. The prosthetic order of things meant running was only reserved for those who had mastered walking and leg care. You had to work hard and be patient to get on running blades. It took me nearly 3 years, hampered by surgery, to get there. It hurt, it was exhausting and my leg fell off twice… I was hooked.’

Luke has always had a keen interest in sport so it was no surprise that sport should go on to play a pivotal role in his recovery. For him, sport challenged him physically, it drove him to overcome hurdles and the limitations of his injuries, it was the catalyst that gave him the strength, skills and resilience to move from stubbies, to Geniums, to blades. It challenged him mentally too. He had to be creative, to work out how to do something that required legs, without them. To float, to balance, to run. Sport required him to be disciplined, to be precise, to reflect on and improve his performance.  It prepared him to be a prosthetic user, and it enables him to stay fit enough to use them.

When Luke and his team were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan, as well as completing the right training, like the medical first aid training that saved Luke’s life, they also had to get their hearts and minds in the right place. Before they left they had to discuss the quite real threat of injury, the very real threat to their lives and find a way to look the danger in the eye and not be afraid. They made a pact. If anyone of them was injured, that soldier would fight on and represent their country once again, on the Paralympic stage. Luke intends to keep his promise and has his sights on Tokyo 2020.

Now a T42 Long Jumper, Luke has competed at international events in Dubai, Italy, Berlin, Paris and the US as well as at home in the UK, and will be representing Team GB at the Para Athletics World Championships in July.

Sport is also about teams and team work and Luke would not have recovered the way he has without the unique support and understanding he shares with other injured personnel. They fought together and they fought back together and this spirit is perfectly encompassed by the ethos of the Invictus Games. It is about competition and striving to do your best, but more importantly its about lifting others, inspiring others and enabling people who have been on incredibly difficult personal journeys to achieve something they never thought could be possible. Its celebrating recovery and celebrating everyone for what they gave for their country. Luke is extremely proud to have represented Team GB in athletics at the Invictus Games in Florida in 2016, winning a silver medal in the 100m and a gold in the 400m. He hopes to beat this tally this year at the games in Toronto in September.

Words and images of Luke from his website:

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