15 March 2017

Retired Lieutenant joins famous stars for military award

Retired Lieutenant and now Progression Adviser at RBLI who has dedicated his life to either serving in or supporting the Armed Forces yesterday joined some famous faces as he was awarded for his outstanding service to the military. 

Roger Leeder, whose military career started at just 15 years of age when he joined the Royal Navy, took home a Churchill Award at London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel alongside Dame Barbara Windsor DBE and Barry Cryer who won for their contributions to charity and radio respectively.

The 70-year-old, who lives in Gillingham, now works for RBLI where he provides employment support for Veterans who complete the charity’s LifeWorks course – a transformative programme designed to give ex-service personnel the skills and confidence they need to find sustained work after they leave the Forces.

The former lieutenant who served in three Chatham-based Royal Navy ships – HMS Brighton, HMS Phoebe and HMS Juno – said choosing to help the veteran community after serving for nearly 40 years himself was an easy decision to make. 

He added: “Having seen first-hand the difficulties many service personnel face upon leaving I knew I had to do whatever I could to make their transition as smooth as possible. 

“I have been involved with all three stages of service life: before, during and after. I had 24 years of active service, followed by 15 years in the Naval Careers Service helping young men and women into careers in the Royal Navy and Royal Marines. Since then, I have spent my time with RBLI supporting veterans to overcome the barriers they face in their return to Civvy Street.” 

“I believe this award only goes to show the importance of helping ex-service personnel who are struggling with their place in life.”

The Churchill Awards launched five years ago in partnership with The Telegraph to demonstrate the significant work of over 65s in the UK - previous winners include Sir Roger Moore, Dame Judi Dench DBE and Michael Morpurgo.

RBLI’s Chief Executive Steve Sherry CMG OBE, who served in the Army for 38 years, said Roger’s commitment to supporting his fellow veterans is inspirational.

He added: “Many veterans leave the forces without direction, resulting in long-term employment – this can have severe consequences including homelessness and drug and alcohol dependency.

“We at RBLI believe a lack of help for these people is simply unacceptable, so we are incredibly grateful that people like Roger, with his wealth of experience, are available to support veterans to help them keep their lives on track.”

“Everyone at RBLI is immensely proud of him - this award is the very least he deserves.”