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Navy’s lifesaving efforts on three continents recognised at military awards

Navy’s lifesaving efforts on three continents recognised at military awards
25 January 2016
Lifesaving efforts by sailors, Royal Marines and the Fleet Air Arm across three continents were singled out at Sun’s annual Military Awards – aka the Millies.

From the men and women of HMS Bulwark plucking refugees out of the Mediterranean to stemming the tide of Ebola in West Africa and the crew of HMS Clyde assisting 200 passengers fleeing a blazing cruise ship in the Falklands, selfless deeds were the order of the day at the MOD-supported awards, which are now in their eighth year.

Bulwark saved 4,747 souls in the central Mediterranean last spring – 1,300 alone in one epic day of rescues – showing, in the words of their CO at the time, Capt Nick Cooke-Priest, “unique compassion” in the process.

For their efforts, the assault ship was named the best unit in the Armed Forces in 2015.

The stories I have heard today have been fantastic and inspiring tales, I feel proud of all of them.

Henry Cavill

“I feel huge pride in receiving this award for two reasons,” said Capt Cooke-Priest.

“Firstly, in my view we executed the task we were set, this was absolutely a reflection of those involved. And secondly, because we felt we were doing something good. There is no greater privilege than saving someone’s life.”

Words echoed by the ‘sailor of the year’, PO Luke Hallis of HMS Clyde who clambered aboard a lifeboat occupied by scores of passengers from the stricken French cruise ship Le Boreal off the Falklands.

“They’d been in the boat for about five hours and were exhausted, sick and suffering,” said the 35-year-old senior rating from Sheffield.

“When I jumped on the first lifeboat, they cheered – I’ll always remember it.”

He received his award from TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson – also one of the judging panel, which consists of a mix of celebrities and military figures.

Man of Steel actor Henry Cavill, who plays the latest incarnation of Superman on the silver screen, presented the award for Best Reservist to green beret Maj Henry Dowlen, recognised for his work in Sierra Leone as part of the UK’s effort to prevent the spread of Ebola.

“Any opportunity I have to show respect to members of the Armed Forces who have done wonderful things is an opportunity I would jump at – especially an opportunity to give an award to a member of the Royal Marines Reserves, as my brother is a Royal Marine,” said the actor.

“The stories I have heard today have been fantastic and inspiring tales, I feel proud of all of them.”

Major Dowlen added: “It was humbling to have been recognised in this way. It was also a pleasure to receive my award from Henry. His brother and I used to work together so it was nice to finally meet him.”

And there was a joint award for the lifesavers of the RN and RAF with the Search and Rescue units of both – in the Navy’s case, HMS Gannet and 771 NAS –presented with a special trophy to mark their efforts over the past six decades.

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