A double date at Buckingham Palace beckons for Suzi and Erik Nielsen – a married Naval couple both recognised by the Queen in her Birthday Honours.
Captain Suzi, who is Commanding Officer of HMS Raleigh in Torpoint, has been awarded the OBE while her Royal Marine husband Major Erik Nielsen, based at the Commando Training Centre in Lympstone, near Exeter, is made an MBE.
Captain Suzi is decorated for rising to the major challenge of moving the Royal Navy’s logistics training – over 60 staff and personnel plus kit and caboodle – from Torpoint to a new purpose-built combined Services complex at Worthy Down near Winchester.
She learned of her award on Tuesday – 24 hours after her husband excitedly phoned with good news of his own.
Major Erik is made an MBE for similarly rising to the challenge posed by Covid as the second-in-command of the Commando Training Wing, responsible for providing the Royal Marines with freshly-trained green berets.
He devised a four-week pre-joining course to help prepare would-be Royal Marines for the rigours of the 32-week course which ends with successful candidates receiving the coveted green beret to become fully-fledged commandos.
In addition, he’s ensured feeding the Royal Marines’ front-line units with those fresh green berets has persisted throughout the pandemic by devising a safe plan for instructors and recruits to allow training to continue.
Capt Suzi joined the Navy in 1999 as a warfare specialist, decided it wasn’t for her, but returned in 2004 as a logistics officer.
She’s been in command of Raleigh – which trains most of the Royal Navy raw recruits – since September last year, having previously been in charge of the Navy’s logistics training school on the same site… until its transfer to Hampshire, the biggest change since the 1970s.
“I feel incredibly humble and proud – it’s recognition for all the work by a great team. For me, it’s a total surprise and I couldn’t be more delighted,” said the 45-year-old.
“It’s been a bit of a surreal week – it doesn’t really get much better than this. The fact that Erik is an MBE as well is the icing on the cake. I could not be more proud of him.”
Her husband, 53, added: “It’s a real honour and privilege to be awarded the MBE but you don’t get these accolades from being an individual. This award is as much for the team, as it is for me, as without their support we would not have achieved the successes we have”.
The couple from Devon are two of 36 Royal Navy and Royal Marines personnel honoured by Her Majesty in these latest honours.
First Sea Lord Admiral Tony Radakin becomes a Sir for his relentless drive and clear vision, shaping every aspect of the Royal Navy. His citation for his Knight Commander of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (KCB) also refers to the seismic impact his improvements and innovations are having on the senior service.
Rear Admiral Andy Burns and Rear Admiral Phil Hally are both made Companions of the Most Honourable Order of the Bath (CB) for their work leading the Navy’s transformation agenda. Rear Admiral Matt Briers also receives a CB for his work as Programme Director, Carrier Enabled Power Projection.
A CB goes to Surgeon Captain John Sharpley, who has driven several strategic programmes which have had a significant and positive impact within the mental health sphere.
Commodore Rob Bellfield is made a CBE for his work as Commander of the Devonport Flotilla and then as Commander of the Coalition Task Force Sentinel in the Gulf.
The commanding officer of 30 Commando Information Exploitation Group, Lieutenant Colonel Rich Alston, is made an OBE for “delivering game-changing results” following a redesign of the unit’s capability.
OBEs also go to Commander Andrew Horlock, for his achievements during the COVID-19 crisis as project officer for the Defence Healthcare Delivery and Optimisation Programme; Lieutenant Colonel Jim Lewis, for his contribution to UK Maritime Operations; Commander Mac McAllister, the Commanding Officer of HMS Artful; Commander Chris Moorey, Naval and Air Attache at the British Embassy in Ankara, Turkey, for promoting UK defence and trade; Commander Al Nekrews, Commander Fleet Diving Squadron, for his inspiration and extensive global experience.
Lieutenant Commander Karen Barnicoat, the military assistant to the Assistant Chief of Defence (Personnel Capability) is made an MBE, as is Lieutenant Commander Simon Hawthorn, the Squadron Engineering Officer of the Overseas Patrol Squadron, and Shrivenham-based Lieutenant Commander Bryan McCavour.
And Lieutenant Colonel Scott Wallace from the Portsmouth-based staff of the UK Strike Force is made an MBE for his efforts developing wheelchair basketball in the Armed Forces in his own time; the sport has proved vital in helping injured personnel recover from their injuries.
MBEs also go to Lieutenant Oli Mulcahy for his work as a combat system engineer for Fleet Operational Sea Training; Warrant Officer 1 Kieran Roe, of 40 Commando, for his work tackling health issues and as a diversity and inclusion race advocate; Lieutenant Commander Karen Shortland, for her work in ensuring supplies of PPE at Clyde Naval Base.
Chief Petty Officer Logistician (Supply Chain) Matthew Tallentyre is made an MBE for streamlining the Naval Stores Process at Portsmouth Naval Base, while Major Sharky Ward is made an MBE for delivering numerous recruitment initiatives for Royal Marines at CTCRM, and Lieutenant Andrew Witts is made an MBE for co-ordinating the planning for Tomahawk missiles and submarine firing units.
The following personnel are awarded the Meritorious Service Medal:
WO1 KCD Bristow (CLR); WO1(D) SF Crew (FDS); WO1ET(ME) RE Cunningham (NAVSEC); WO1ET(ME) IR Howe (HMS Dauntless); CPOAC SJ Hughes (MAA DSA); WO1 G Luke (CTCRM); WO1 AJ Marshall (RNAS Yeovilton); WO1 CS McMillan (NBC Clyde); WO1 N Ollive (CTCRM); Lt JW Shelverton (RAF St Mawgan); WO2 A Soper (30 Cdo IX GP); WO1LOG(SC) SR Thomson (Fasflot)