London Pride 2022 LGBT+ personnel pose for a photo CREDIT Crown Copyright.jpg
LGBT+ personnel pose for a photo at London Pride in 2022 (Picture: Crown Copyright)

Finalists revealed for first-ever LGBTQ+ Defence Awards

London Pride 2022 LGBT+ personnel pose for a photo CREDIT Crown Copyright.jpg
LGBT+ personnel pose for a photo at London Pride in 2022 (Picture: Crown Copyright)

Finalists from all three branches of the Armed Forces, the Civil Service, defence firms and suppliers have been announced for the UK defence sector's inaugural celebration of the LGBTQ+ community – the LGBTQ+ Defence Awards.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's formal apology in July for the military's historic treatment of the LGBTQ+ community, who were banned from serving in the Armed Forces until it was lifted in 2000, was a landmark moment for defence inclusion, but also highlighted how far there still was to go.  

Executive chair Craig Jones and Caroline Paige, the chief executive of Fighting With Pride, the official charity partner of the LGBTQ+ Defence Awards, said: "These awards celebrate the talent and achievements of exceptional individuals, team members and organisations that are shaping defence and transforming an industry where LGBTQ+ careers thrive.

"Our warmest congratulations and grateful thanks go to all those who have been shortlisted for this year's inaugural LGBTQ+ Defence Awards and to the nominators that are helping us recognise people and organisations in the vanguard of enabling diversity, inclusion and equity in defence." 

The visibility of LGBTQ+ role models, a chief conduit for ensuring members of the LGBTQ+ community feel safe, accepted and empowered in any workplace, has remained especially lacking in defence, the LGBTQ+ Defence Awards say.

The awards, of which BFBS is the media partner, sets out to change that by establishing a positive, inspiring platform to showcase LGBTQ+ contributions to defence.

Pride London 2022 LGBT+ a British Army soldier poses with civilians to celebrate Pride CREDIT Crown Copyright
A British Army soldier poses with civilians to celebrate Pride in London in 2022 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

The LGBTQ+ Defence Awards recognise Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion trailblazers but also other LGBTQ+ achievers who simply, through feeling able to be themselves at work, have maximized their value to UK Defence. 

The awards programme is being organised by Disruptive Media Group, the company behind the Ex-Forces in Business Awards, in partnership with headline sponsor BAE Systems and official charity partner Fighting With Pride.

Attracting more than 250 nominations from all corners of the industry, the inaugural LGBTQ+ Defence Awards will be the first time the broad spectrum of UK Defence comes together to celebrate, showcase and promote the power and importance of LGBTQ+ inclusion. 

The winners will be celebrated at an awards ceremony on 17 October in the Grand Hall of the Grand Connaught in London's Covent Garden, hosted by BBC news anchor Jane Hill.

Aviators from RAF LGBT took part in a London pride parade celebrating diversity and inclusion 02062022 CREDIT RAF
Aviators from the RAF LGBT+ community taking part in London Pride in 2022 (Picture: Crown Copyright).

In April, Mrs Hill became one of the seven permanent anchors of the BBC's flagship new broadcasts, the News at One, Six and Ten, making her the UK's first out lesbian newsreader. 

As well as presenting the highly anticipated awards ceremony, the BBC presenter will introduce a programme of live entertainment and special guest speakers including Dame Kelly Holmes, double Olympic gold medallist and Honorary Colonel of the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment, and Dr Andrew Murrison, Minister for Defence People and Veterans.

The winners are decided by an independent judging panel of leaders from organisations including the Ministry of Defence, the British Army, the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, the National Police Air Service, Imperial College London, Royal College of Physicians, Jacobs, Leidos and Leonardo.

The Army CGS and Sgt Major joined the Army LGBT+ network at the Defence Pride Reception before the march 02062022 CREDIT Army LGBT+.jpg
Chief of the General Staff General Sir Patrick Sanders and Sergeant Major Carney joined the Army LGBT+ network at the Defence Pride reception before the 2022 Pride march (Picture: Army LGBT Twitter).

Richard Blackmore, head of diversity, equity and inclusion at BAE Systems, headline sponsor of the LGBTQ+ Defence Awards, said: "Here at BAE Systems, we're committed to recognising the role models, both within the LGBTQ+ community and allies, who ensure people of all genders and sexualities are free to bring their whole selves to work and give their best. 

"I'm proud of our Employee Resource Group OutLink, which supports gender and sexual diversity and of everyone who cares about inclusion, no matter how they wish to be identified. 

"I have no doubt these awards will play an invaluable role in supporting LGBTQ+ inclusion and representation across the UK's defence industry and we're proud to be part of this journey."

Who are the finalists?

Advocate of the Year  

Cpl Darren Wilson-Kean, 1st Military Working Dog Regiment, British Army  

Cpl Peter Fisher, Defence School of Intelligence  

Emlyn Taylor, Lockheed Martin UK  

Giles Gibson, MBDA  

Marcus Fenlon, MBDA  

Paul Kellett, BAE Systems  

Rose Worthy, Capita  

WO1 Robbie Buglass, Royal Navy  


Ally of the Year 

Calum Smith, MBDA  

Emma Ellis, Capita  

Gp Capt Lisa Mullineux, Royal Air Force  

Ian McNeil, Boeing  

Jane Fenn, BAE Systems  

Luke Bonnett, Frazer-Nash Consultancy  

Nick Pett, Ministry of Defence  

Rebekah Halton, BAE Systems  

SSgt Rhys Davies, Royal School of Military Survey  

WO2 Jonjo Blain AGC (RMP), The Mission Ready Training Centre 


Armed Forces Leader of the Year  

Brig Clare Phillips CBE, Army Personnel Centre  

Col Simon Puxley, Defence Intelligence  

Lt Gen Charlie Stickland, Ministry of Defence  

Maj Harry Walter, Intelligence Corps, British Army  

Maj Stephanie Hayward, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps  

Surg Cdr Dr Mike Hill, Royal Navy  

WO Tracy Barrow, Defence College Of Policing and Guarding  


Graduate or Apprentice of the Year  

Alisha Kasobya, MBDA   

Benjamin Andrews, BAE Systems  

Cfn Josiah Byrom, British Army 

Charlie Bennett, BAE Systems   

Freddie Willoughby, BAE Systems  

Matthew Shaw, BAE Systems  


Innovator of the Year   

Chris Poulton, BAE Systems  

Kaz Self, Rolls-Royce  

Lacey Harrison, Serco RAF Fylingdales  

Lynn O’Donnell, DSTL  

Neil Reeves, Defence College for Military Capability Integration  

Neil Sherwin-PeddIe, BAE Systems  

Roz Taylor, Frazer-Nash Consultancy  

Tim Tillett, BAE Systems Digital Intelligence  


Inspiration of the Year  

Ivy Speight, Leonardo  

Jenna Powell, BAE Systems   

LCpl Eve Wild, British Army Shooting Team  

Peter Geering, Frazer-Nash Consultancy  

Sgt Sarah O’Connor, Royal Army Medical Corps, British Army  

Sgt Stuart King, Army Foundation College (Harrogate)  

Thomas Lowes, BAE Systems 

WO2 Deborah Penny, The Army Engagement Group, British Army  


LGBTQ+ Network or Initiative of the Year  

Frazer-Nash Pride & Allies   

L3Harris in Tewkesbury and Fleet PRIDE Employee Resource Group  

MOD LGBTQ+ Allies Programme  

OutLink, BAE Systems   

PrIDA Employee Resource Group, Northrop Grumman  

The Leonardo Pride Network  


LGBTQ+ Trailblazer of the Year  

Adam George, Lockheed Martin UK  

Amélie Beedham, Thales UK  

Dougie Morgan, Fighting With Pride  

Elaine Chambers, Newport Health Centre  

Jo Chambers-Grant, MBDA  

Laura Farhall, British Defence Staff Washington DC  

Ruben van Schalkwyk, Aon  

Sgt Kelly Flynn, Royal Air Force  

Toby Watkin-Jones, Amazon Web Services 


Outstanding Achiever of the Year  

AS1 Amber Sudbury, Royal Air Force, Joint Service Signal Unit (Digby)  

Ben Wilberforce-Ritchie, BAE Systems  

Cpl James Flanagan, 7 SCOTS, Royal Regiment of Scotland, British Army  

CPO (MAA) Michelle Garrett, Royal Navy Police  

Fred Elsey, Lockheed Martin UK  

LCpl Amy Cowen, British Army Recruiting Group  

Sgt Bethan Garland-Ridding, Army Foundation College (Harrogate)  


Rising Star of the Year  

AirTpr Liam Cole, 1 Regiment Army Air Corps, Army Air Corps, British Army  

Cfm Riley Morgan, 29 Explosive Ordnance Disposal & Search, British Army  

Gareth Sterry, Capita  

Kyle Blake, British Army Band Tidworth  

Lauren Coulbeck, Ministry of Defence, Devonport Naval Base  

Lt Bradley Setchell, Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps 

Lt Charlotte Atkins, Southampton University Officer Training Corps, British Army  

Olivia Hake, Northrop Grumman  


Role Model of the Year  

Capt McLain Carter, Adjutant General’s Corps, British Army  

Cpl Carlea Jane Chant, Royal Army Medical Corps, British Army  

Jacks Connor-Fox, Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S)  

SSgt Jessica & SSgt Leigh Schofield-Perrett, Intelligence Corps, British Army   

Rebecca Cartwright, BAE Systems  

Simone Joachim, ITPAero  

SSgt Matt Paget, Intelligence Corps, British Army  

WO2 Jon Cox, Army Welfare Service  

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