A Royal Navy nurse who fought on the front line against coronavirus and an expert in bomb disposal are among the sailors and Royal Marines recognised in this year’s New Year’s Honours list.
Nearly two dozen personnel have been honoured for their unwavering duty in what has been a challenging year for many – marking their hard work and commitment while on operations both at home in the UK and abroad.
One of the navy’s most experienced bomb disposal experts receives an MBE for his inspirational leadership and operational achievements.
Under Lieutenant Commander Sean ‘Central’ Heaton’s leadership, specialist divers from Portsmouth and Plymouth-based bomb disposal units rendered safe or disposed of nearly 16,000 items of conventional ordnance (sea mines, torpedoes, hand grenades, mortars and bombs dropped by aircraft), as well as successfully dealing with 97 present-day Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs).
Among the most high-profile tasks during his two-and-a-half year spell in charge of the Southern Diving Group was a 500lb Luftwaffe bomb found in February 2018 on the bottom of London’s King George V Docks – next to London City Airport.
His citation said: “He relentlessly delivered very-high-tempo operations, above and beyond that expected of his rank and his peers, with an admirable dedication to his people.
“His devotion, commitment and professional ability has been extraordinary, and he most strongly deserves official recognition.”
Originally from Wigan and with more than 30 years’ service in the Royal Navy under his belt, Lieutenant Commander Heaton said he was honoured to have been singled out.
He added: “This decoration is as much a recognition of the brave, dedicated and immensely professional men and women that were under my command during my time in Southern Diving Group.”
Chief Petty Officer Naval Nurse Andrew Cooper is also recognised for his efforts testing hundreds of sailors on HMS Queen Elizabeth and his front-line work in an NHS hospital emergency department, for which he becomes an Associate of the Royal Red Cross.
The 36-year-old said: “I couldn’t believe it at first. It will be exciting when I can let people know, having to hold off since finding out has been tough. I cannot wait to tell them.”
Andrew, from Eastbourne in Sussex, has played a pivotal role in the fight against coronavirus, first during his time on HMS Queen Elizabeth in April. With the aircraft carrier due to deploy for Fleet Operational Sea Training, he had to come up with a system to test all 800 of her sailors – a feat he repeated in September ahead of F-35 Lightning jets trials.
On his work on the carrier, his citation said: “It was largely due to CPONN Cooper’s experience, dedication and hard work that the ship had been able to go to sea safely with the confidence they could deal with all eventualities.”
Away from HMS Queen Elizabeth, Andrew showed his expertise and leadership in the emergency department of Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Portsmouth, leading his NHS and military colleagues in the midst of the Covid pandemic.
Using his military background, he helped set up additional resuscitation rooms at short notice and helped give extra training to junior staff in assisted intubation and the use of non-invasive ventilation – medical care often required for coronavirus patients.
He also helped colleagues on working in full personal protective equipment (PPE) and led the re-design of the hospital’s emergency department.
The senior rating said: “It is quite unique that I was able to use my skills both on a carrier like Queen Elizabeth and on the frontline of the NHS. But I couldn’t have done it by myself. None of it would have happened if it wasn’t for the whole team.”
Andrew joined the Royal Navy as an aircraft handler in 2004. He trained to be a nurse from 2008 and has served in hospitals around the UK as well as on HMS Queen Elizabeth during her Westlant 19 deployment.
Rear Admiral Andy Kyte has also been involved in the nation’s response to the pandemic at the highest levels, supporting other government departments as well as helping to ensure the armed forces continued their regular missions throughout the Covid crisis. He is made a Companion of the Order of the Bath.
One of the Navy’s longest serving and most senior officers is knighted for his “outstanding contribution representing the Royal Navy and the UK’s defence”. Now Commander of Joint Operations at Northwood, Vice Admiral Ben Key commanded frigates HMS Iron Duke and Lancaster, carrier HMS Illustrious and served as Fleet Commander between 2016 and 2019.
And marine engineer Lieutenant Commander Beth Griffiths has played a key role in the ten-year project to overhaul and extend the front-line lives of the Navy’s frigate flotilla. Her efforts earn her the MBE.
The full list of Royal Navy recipients is:
Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath (KCB)
Vice Admiral Ben Key, Chief of Joint Operations
Companion of the Order of the Bath (CB)
Major General Gwyn Jenkins, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff
Rear Admiral Andy Kyte, Assistant Chief of Defence Staff (Support Operations)
Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE)
Commodore Douglas Doull, Naval Base Commander Clyde
Commodore Martyn Williams, Head of Naval Ship Support, Defence Equipment and Support
Commodore Craig Wood, Commodore Surface Flotilla
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE)
Commander Marcus Jacques, RN Liaison Officer to the United States Coastguard
Commander Darren Mason, CO HMS Vengeance (Port)
Colonel Jaimie Norman RM
Commodore Rob Wood, Commodore Naval Legal Service
Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE)
Lieutenant Commander James Betchley, COMOPS Northwood
Lieutenant Commander Royal Naval Reserve (Sea Cadet Corps) D Collins, District Officer, Merseyside District Sea Cadets
Lieutenant Jenny Dyson QARNNS, Nursing Officer, Joint Hospital Group (South East)
Lieutenant Commander Beth Griffiths, HMS Richmond
Lieutenant Commander Sean Heaton, Commanding Officer, Southern Diving Group
Major Patrick Hill, Staff Officer Information Activity, 30 Commando Brigade Information Exploitation Group
Warrant Officer 1 (Regimental Sergeant Major) David Mason RM, Royal Marines Corps Regimental Sergeant Major
Warrant Officer 1 Engineering Technician (Marine Engineering) S J Smith, Marine Engineer Officer HMS Severn
Chief Petty Officer Medical Assistant Philip Towers
Warrant Officer 1 Logistician (Supply Chain) G R White, HMS Prince of Wales
Associate of the Royal Red Cross (ARRC)
Petty Officer Naval Nurse Andrew Cooper QARNNS, Emergency Medical Nurse, Joint Hospital Group South
Lieutenant Zoe Haggerty QARNNS, HMS Queen Elizabeth
Lieutenant Commander Louise Moxworthy, HMS Raleigh