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Royal Navy honours stalwarts of the service

18 April 2018
Five men and women who epitomise the finest qualities of the human spirit - and the Royal Navy - have been rewarded by Britain's senior sailor.

Lt Cdr David Pollitt, PO(PT) Stu O'Connor, Std Janine Mayoll on the left of Admiral Sir Philip Jones and WOET(WESM) David Wynne and WO1 Adrian Piner on the right are this year's winners of the First Sea Lord's Greenwich Hospital Prize (the hospital is represented by director Hugh Player to the admiral's left).

The awards were introduced in 2015 to recognise up to eight sailors or Royal Marines who had best embodied the ethos of the Senior Service.

The winners and their families were invited aboard HMS Victory to receive framed certificates from Admiral Jones on a day none will forget.

Steward Janine suffered a string of personal tragedies in the matter of months, losing her husband, father, and parents-in-law - all while receiving treatment for a particular aggressive form of cancer.

Despite these body blows, she continued to perform her RN duties and rebuild her life with enthusiasm, professionalism and above all courage which impressed all she served with. Her dedication to continue her naval career has now resulted in a draft to the nation's flagship HMS Queen Elizabeth.

Few sailors on the Seven Seas are more experienced navigators than Lt Cdr David Pollitt who has been instrumental over the past few years in the revolution which has seen the Fleet switch from paper to electronic charts.

Lt Cdr Pollitt's encyclopaedic understanding of navigation above and below the waves has been called upon repeatedly in ensuring the Navy receives the equipment and charts to safely negotiate the oceans in time of peace or war.

The final RN vessels 'go digital' this year - a lasting testimony to the veteran navigator's dedication to the cause.

For most of the past decade Stu O'Connor has been the RN's 'Mr Boxing' as a passionate coach of Navy fighters. At the same time he's also set up the Poseidon Community Boxing Gym in Eastleigh.

Council bosses set Stu the target of taking 25 junior boxers a week under his wing. Instead, 60 fighters walk through the gym doors every day - 14,000 users in a year. On top of that, the gym is now a hub for the England Boxing Association's disability training initiative, helps former offenders to reintegrate in the community and above all "has sacrificed personal ambitions to support others".

Adrian Piner has been the Corps Bugle Major - the most senior non-commissioned officer bugler in the Royal Marine - for the past four and a half years. As well as being responsible for the buglers and all major performances by the Corps of Drums, he's embraced social media, successfully led a world record attempt and broadened the audience beyond traditional fans of the RM band.

As a result of all these efforts, the Royal Marine are now consulted by organisers planning events such as the Festival of Remembrance, national-level commemorations and international military tattoos. Put simply, WO1 Piner provides a service which sets the "gold standard across military music".

And besides being highly respected thanks to years of experience as a weapon engineer, WO1 David Wynne is dedicated to the wider 'submarine/Faslane family'.

He's been instrumental in setting up a support group for naval families who have children with special needs, encouraged Faslane-based folk to buy presents for youngsters at Glasgow Royal Hospital for Children and helps edit the 'Storybook Waves' initiative (recording of parents' bedtime stories to be played back to children while the former are deployed).

In getting involved in all these projects - and many more - David daily places the needs of the Service - and families - ahead of his own, demonstrating "an unfailing drive to do the right thing" and an "indefatigable ability to make things happen".

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