The Milspo® Team are proud to have supported the inaugural Celebrating Forces Families Award Ceremony 2022

As keen advocates for military spouses, partners, and other halves in business, the Milspo Team are proud to volunteer their time to make these, and future CFF awards, a success! The event was hosted by the Partner Employment Working Group, a MOD forum which features representation from within the Milspo Team.

Reflecting on the inaugural ceremony – By Helen Massey

Within the many events and awards evenings that happen across the UK’s Armed Forces network, there has yet to be an event focusing purely on celebrating the valued support of Serving military families. Until now.

Held on 29th April 2022, at the Victory Services Club in London, the awards aimed to acknowledge and celebrate military families’ resilience, altruistic attitudes, triumph over adversity, and inspiring career paths whilst being part of the whole community.

They didn’t disappoint. Inspirational nominations flooded in, showing the strength and support hidden within military communities worldwide.

Supported by the Ministry of Defence through its Partner Employment Steering Group, the Celebrating Forces Families Awards were made possible due to generous sponsorship. On presenting the final award of the night, headline sponsor Parkdean Resorts Chief Customer Officer, Catherine Lynn, stated:

“We’re all about connecting families and helping them create amazing memories that last generations. This evening, it has been phenomenal to hear the passion, effort, and energy everyone in this room puts into making forces families’ lives a little better. We are hugely humbled and proud to be sponsoring these awards.”

But let’s get back to the beginning

The evening began with a drinks reception sponsored by Harrison Clark Rickerbys Solicitors, where the organising team sporting gold sashes welcomed guests with goodie bags and drinks. Distinguished guests included the Chief of Defence People, Lieutenant General Swift, representing the Army, the First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Benjamin John Key representing the Royal Navy, and Air Vice-Marshal Richard Hill representing the Royal Air Force.

The voice of crowd-pleasing Peter Dickson hosted proceedings, ushering guests through to Carisbrooke Hall to songs sung by the Military Wives Choir (sponsored by Barclays). Although the Duchess of Cornwall could not be present in person, she sent a letter welcoming everyone to this inaugural event placed in the programme for all to read when seated.

Following an exceptional three-course dinner served by the Victory Services Club, BFBS presenter and RAF Reservist Amy Casey complemented the comedic hosting skills of Anthony Cotton throughout the awards ceremony. The room was full of laughter, warmth, and anticipation as the hosts introduced each award.

Shall we get to the important part? The winners!

Here is a list of the awards, finalists, and winners of the evening.

Inspirational Family Member of the Year – Sponsored by Parkdean Resorts

Finalists: Heather Sharp, Miranda Rutherford, and the trio Suliana Tuiteci, Rusila Halofaki, and Sala Smith.

Award Winner: Heather Sharp – Forces Wives Challenge

Young People’s Award – Sponsored by Right Management from Talent Solutions

Finalists: Ellie O’Gorman, Seren Killpartrick, and The Qalo Brothers – Sitiveni and Pauliasi Qalobulawasaikabara

Award Winner: Ellie O’Gorman

Family Volunteer of the Year – Sponsored by the Naval, Army and Royal Air Force Families Federations

Finalists: Angela Campbell, Maggie Pedder, and The Gibson Family – Alison Gibson, Sqn Ldr Dean Gibson, and Flt Lt Ben Gibson.

Award Winner: Maggie Pedder

Overcoming Adversity – Sponsored by Anglia Ruskin University

Finalists: Isobel Keating, Nikki Scott, and Emma Gray – Rainbow Hunting

Winner: Nikki Scott – Scotty’s Little Soldiers

The winner of this award received a special surprise in the form of a custom-designed pair of trainers. Graeme Lloyd from made a bespoke pair of Nike trainers sporting the Scotty’s Little Soldiers logo, Nikki’s favourite colours, and the names of all her children. This was a lovely extra gesture to honour the adversity forces families so often have to face.

Military Family Charity of the Year – Sponsored by the Defence Discount Service

Finalists: Fun First and Scotty’s Little Soldiers

Award Winner: Fun First

Social Media Influencer of the Year – Sponsored by Marks and Spencer

Finalists: Simone Riley, Charlotte Harker, and Georgie Muir

Award Winner: CharlotteHarker @charlotteharker (Instagram)

Armed Forces Advocate of the Year -Sponsored by Mott Macdonald

Finalists: Rebecca Hull, Nadine Monks, and Vasemaca Manu

Award Winner: Nadine Monks – Forces Family Finance

Small Business Owner of the Year – Sponsored by Supporting The Unsung Hero

Finalists: Andrea Baker – B’s Clothing and Gifts, Simone Riley, Kayleigh Powney – Kayleigh Powney Photography, and Esther Lunn – Lunn’s Mums Fitness Training.

Award Winner: Simone Riley – Elite Force Mortgages

Exemplar Forces Friendly Employer of the Year – Sponsored by Parkdean Resorts

Finalists: Charlie Charlie One, Barclays, Mott MacDonald, and Forces Family Finance

Award Winner: Barclays

Winners were accompanied to the Green Room, sponsored by the Royal British Legion, to have their photos taken, provide interviews and take a moment to realise their incredible achievements. The whole evening was brought to life by media partner BFBS, who provided seamless live streaming to those who could not attend in person.

Andy White, a British Army Veteran representing Barclays, rounded off the awards by stating that a ceremony like this to recognise forces families has been a long time coming:

“I like to use the analogy of the Ford Transit – the backbone of Great Britain,” began Andy on accepting the final award. “The backbone behind every Service person is the families. They hold everything together”.

This sentiment was echoed throughout the evening as families, businesses, and the military community came together to recognise and celebrate their achievements and the challenges they have overcome. Drinks and dancing finished off the event, with many people taking the time to speak in person, share their journeys, and continue to strengthen the military community.

A special thanks must be given to the event team, judges, and contributors who all made the first-ever Celebrating Forces Families Awards come to life and run smoothly.

Watch the event on playback

If you were unable to attend and missed the event’s live stream, you can watch the CFF Awards video on the website – brought to you by the BFBS Team as our Media Partner. You can also view the programme containing details of each finalist and award winner, a photo gallery from the night, and all up to date news about this year’s and next year’s awards:

Author: Helen Massy, CFF Event Team Member:

Further information