Soldiering On

Soldiering On Awards: These Finalists Talk Up Their Chances

Forces Media Academy, that retrains veterans for new careers, will be at the 2019 Soldiering On Awards.

Ross Gold and Jack Ward laughed as they mulled over their Soldiering On Awards acceptance speech, imagining how it might feel to win such an accolade that recognises outstanding achievement across the Armed Forces community.

The awards aim to honour the diverse people and groups supporting those who serve, with Ross and Jack among the list of nominees hoping to pick up a gong at this year’s ceremony.

While former Army dental nurse Jack encouraged his Forces Media Academy colleague to “squeeze a tear out” if he could, ex-airman Ross insisted:

“I don’t want to storm the stage like Jarvis Cocker at the BRITS. Shall we drop the mic at the end?”

In its second year of existence, the Forces Media Academy is nominated in the Education, Training and Development category at the 2019 Soldiering On ceremony.

Ross and Jack will be going up on stage to collect the award, should the FMA bring it home on Friday night.

WATCH: More from Ross, Jack, and the rest of the FMA

Both veterans have thoroughly embraced the digital media breaks they’ve been getting.

Ross Gold (l) and Jack Ward (r) laugh about the speech they've planned
Ross Gold (l) and Jack Ward (r) laugh about the speech they've planned

Ross, who spent 12 years in the RAF, added: “There’s a lot of creative people in the military.

“There’s a lot of people that would like to work in TV or radio, but how do you get into it?

“That was always my thought. How do you even begin?”

“It’s really just thanking the staff, and talking about the opportunities we’ve got.”

Ross Gold, 2018-19 Forces Media Academy student
Ross Gold will be avoiding impressions of the Pulp frontman

Jack joked about the pair of them streaking up and down the venue, loudly announcing: “WE DESERVE THIS!”

In all seriousness, the veteran from the Royal Army Dental Corps said:

“We want to keep it real. We want to just tell people our passions, why we’re there, what the FMA has done for us.”

Jack Ward, 2018-19 Forces Media Academy student
Jack Ward will be keeping it real at Soldiering On 2019

“We’re specifically going to thank people like June [McMahon], and the [rest of] the staff at the FMA, because they’ve been unbelievably helpful through this whole experience.

“It’s probably the poshest event I’ll ever have been to.”

He added: “I don’t know what to expect, honestly. I’m a little bit nervous. I might have to have a drink or two before I pop up on stage.”

June MacMahon, Principal of Forces Media Academy, described being “absolutely over the moon” when she found out her training programme was nominated for an accolade that recognises excellence right across the Armed Forces community.

She added: “First of all, to be nominated is a huge, huge deal.

“But secondly, to be shortlisted with those other amazing groups and facilitators – really pleased.”

June McMahon - Principal, Forces Media Academy
June McMahon, Principal of the Forces Media Academy

 “I’ve worked in the media industry for many years, then moved into education, so I see both sides of the coin.

“I understand that, with support, veterans definitely have the skills, the attributes, the drive.

 “They work hard – they have to; this is quite a challenging course – but they’re succeeding, so what more could I ask for?

“Wishing everyone at the Forces Media Academy good luck!”

The arsenal of skills the FMA students gain is, for some part, down to media technician Tim Walford.

He joined the Media Academy just two months before the first students rocked up, and made sure in that short time that all the cameras and other bits of kit were ready.

Tim said: “We set out at the onset with quite a lofty goal, to be a world-recognised training provider for service leavers.

“We feel like this is a very big step on our way to achieving that vision.

Tim Walford, Media Technician, at the Forces Media Academy
Tim Walford teaches FMA students how to put up a tripod properly

“We’ve always been proud of our work. We’re very proud of our first cohort, and we’re equally proud of this one too. It’s really nice to be recognised for that.

“This is absolutely a big deal for us.”

“The more recognised we are as a training establishment, the more weight their qualification from us carries.

“It’s really rewarding coming in every day and feeling like these guys are learning, we’re making a difference, and they’re setting themselves on a new path.”

  • The 2019 Soldiering On Awards takes place on Friday 5 April, at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge Hotel in London.