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.
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.
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.
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