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A veteran whose career was ended by a devastating injury has turned his life around – by creating his own vodka brand.

And Chris Gillan’s Heroes Vodka is already challenging the big boys of the booze industry after supermarkets agreed to stock it.

Chris served with the RAF police in Iraq and Afghanistan and was selected for special operations alongside the SAS.

But he suffered a severe leg injury in training, which forced him out of the military and put paid to his future plans to join the police.

He then found himself unemployed and temporarily homeless, but has managed to turn his life around after starting the vodka business which he planned from the spare room of his council flat.

Chris, 37, said: “I was in quite a dire situation financially. It was a dark part of my life.

“I had to turn to the armed forces charities to get some assistance.” Using funding he received from the British Legion, Chris launched his firm.

The vodka is bottled at Broxburn Bottlers in West Lothian and is now being stocked in 350 Asda stores across the UK.

Chris, who employs forces veterans at the firm, added: “A minimum of 20 per cent of all profits go to our charities – the Royal Navy & Royal Marine charity , the Army Benevolent Fund and the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund.”


In the wake of the tragic death of PC Keith Palmer a charity single has now been produced with the lyrics penned by the children of a serving police officer.
Two boys aged 11 and 13 have written a song about what police do and how officers across the country work together.

Their aim was to have a member of every police force in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland represented on the song to raise money for the charity Care of Police Survivors (COPS).

The profits of the all sales of the track will go to COPS. This is a charity that looks after families of police officers who have died in the line of duty.
The track features singers from 20 police forces around the UK which includes RAF Police.

After a lot of hard work the track is now available for download on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Amazon as We Stand Together by The Thin Blue Line.

Download from Amazon

Download from iTunes


A female pensioner who was filmed having sex with dogs has been spared jail by a judge.

Carol Bowditch, 64, had sex with a St Bernard, a black labrador and an Alsatian claiming later she did not realise that it was illegal.

Her activities were exposed as a result of an RAF Police investigation which centred on a man identified as organising a bizarre sex party .

Owners watched their dogs having sex with women, who then had sex with the men.
Details of the event were later posted on an internet forum specialising in bestiality.

The investigation led police to visit Bowditch and when her home was searched officers found a DVD and a USB stick which both contained film of her with dogs.
Victoria Rose, prosecuting, told Lincoln Crown Court "When the DVD was analysed it was found to contain extreme images.
"Those images portrayed persons committing penetrative sexual acts with dogs.
"Also included were images of this defendant herself carrying out sexual activity.
"Included was an eight minute and 59 seconds video of Mrs Bowditch engaging in vaginal and oral sex with a St Bernard dog named Oscar.
"When the defendant was interviewed she admitted she had penetrative sex with dogs.
"She accepted it had taken place over several years. She was unaware it was illegal."
Miss Rose said that at least eight photographs were found of Bowditch having sex with dogs and 30 moving images.
Bowditch, 64, of Evedon, Lincs, admitted a charge of having sexual intercourse with an animal between 13 November 2011 and 25 November 2014.
She also admitted possession of 37 extreme pornographic images on 21 March 2016.
Daniel Galloway, 65, of the same address, admitted aiding and abetting Bowditch to have intercourse with an animal.
He also admitted charges of making indecent images of children, possession of a prohibited image of a child, distributing 1,861 indecent images of children and possession of extreme pornography.
His sentence was adjourned to a later date.
James Gray, in mitigation, said "She is 64 and has no previous convictions.
"Both she and Mr Galloway have suffered considerable public humiliation.
"They have been ostracised by their friends and family.
"They have suffered that added element of punishment which in less salacious cases would not be present."
Bowditch was given a community order with 12 months supervision and a 16 week night-time curfew.

RAF Wittering policeman and dad of twins to take on huge cycle challenge to say thanks to medical staff

Nathan Curtis, who is based at RAF Wittering, will ride between Peterborough City Hospital and Leicester Royal Infirmary on April 15.

His twin daughters were born in October 2016 and are healthy now but their mum, Steffanie, needed an emergency caesarean if the smaller of the twins was to survive. The lifesaving operation was performed at Leicester Royal Infirmary. Nathan and Steffanie were unable to see the girls, Millie and Charlotte, for the first few hours of their lives. Born ten weeks prematurely, the tiny babies were just bigger than the size of an adult hand. Two weeks afterwards, Millie was transferred to Peterborough City Hospital. Nathan said: “The quality of care was second to none and everybody was just amazing. The neonatal intensive care staff are the real heroes. I knew the girls were in the best capable hands.” It’s very busy in the Curtis household. Steffanie is a full time mum to Mille and Charlotte and their brother, Noah, who is three years old. Nathan is balancing a very busy job as an RAF policeman with helping his wife at home and training for the bike ride. In preparation for the 82 mile ride, Nathan trains every day; working in the gym and on a turbo-trainer at home. The turbo-trainer is a small device which is mounted under the rear wheel of a bicycle and allows realistic (but static) training indoors.


RAF reservist ‘looked up colleague’s skirt’ at Oktoberfest

Keith McIlraith was photographed sneaking a look up a fellow police reservist's dress at an Oktoberfest party night at the No 603 Squadron headquarters in Edinburgh.

Keith McIlraith was photographed sneaking a look up a fellow police reservist's dress at an Oktoberfest party night at the No 603 Squadron headquarters in Edinburgh.

ormer Royal Navy submariner Keith McIlraith was photographed looking up a fellow police reservist’s dress at an Oktoberfest party night at the No 603 Squadron headquarters in Edinburgh.

McIlraith - who is also a TV extra - and the woman had been enjoying the “rowdy, drunken affair” along with around 50 other military personnel following a training day at the RAF HQ.

The woman was dressed as a “German beer wench” and after spotting a friend in the same outfit she asked for a picture of them to be taken.

Nothing was said at the time but the woman admitted she was left “shocked and embarrassed” when she saw the picture of her and her friend with McIlraith on the floor looking up her short dress a few days later.

The ex-Navy submariner, 43, denied he had looked up the woman’s skirt claiming instead he and a female friend had been larking about on the floor of the function suite during the party on October 25, 2014.

But McIlraith - who has appeared as a support actor in River City, Dear Green Place and Bargain Hunt - was found guilty of a breach of the peace by looking up the woman’s skirt at the RAF HQ, Learmonth Terrace, Edinburgh, following a trial at the capital’s sheriff court today.

The 48-year-old victim told the court she attended the RAF training day in the afternoon before changing into a “traditional Oktoberfest German wench” fancy dress outfit consisting of white off the shoulder top, short black skirt and black boots.

She said: “People were drinking quite a lot - it was a party type atmosphere.

“It was a good evening and the majority of it was spent in the bar before we went through to a bigger room for party games.

“I saw a friend wearing the same outfit and wanted a picture taken of us as I thought it would be quite funny. I looked at the picture a couple of days later and I was shocked.

“I didn’t know he was on the floor looking up my skirt - I was shocked and embarrassed.

If I’d known about it In would have dealt with it then and there.

If I’d [known what he was doing] I would have stamped on his face.”

The woman then said she confronted McIlraith about the image a few weeks later but that he had ‘just laughed it off’ and said ‘it was a bit of a laugh’.

“There was no apology and he felt as if he didn’t do anything wrong.”

The woman then reported the matter to the Provost Marshall, the head of the RAF police, before going on to inform the civilian police around nine months after the incident.

The woman said she made a statement to the police as she felt the RAF command “were not taking it [the complaint] seriously enough”.

Giving evidence, McIlraith, from East Kilbride, told the court he had drunk around a dozen bottles of beer and as a result had “no recollection” of the picture being taken.

He said he had been engaging in “tomfoolery” with a female colleague whereby both of them were rolling around the floor on several occasions that evening.

He denied the allegation he had looked up the woman’s skirt claiming that would have been “obscene”.

He added: “I know at no point did I look up anyone’s skirt. I wasn’t paralytic but I was drunk.

“It [the picture] might look like that but I wasn’t looking up her skirt.”

Following the evidence, Sheriff Fiona Tait told McIlraith she was rejecting his version of events as “unsatisfactory” but found the woman’s evidence to be “credible and reliable”.

Sheriff Tait found the former Royal Navy submariner guilty of the breach of the Pearce charge but did not place McIlraith on the Sex Offenders Register following yesterday’s trial.

The sheriff said she will consider that sanction as part of the fuller sentence which was deferred to next month.


Inspection of the RAF Police by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary:Written statement - HCWS440

Ministry of Defence
Made on: 26 January 2017
Made by: Mark Lancaster (Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence)

Inspection of the RAF Police by Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Constabulary

I wish to inform the House that I am laying today, the first report from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) Inspection of the Royal Air Force Police (RAFP).

The Armed Forces Act 2011 places a duty on HMIC to inspect and report to the Ministry of Defence on the independence and effectiveness of investigations carried out by each Service police force, and this is HMIC’s first statutory inspection report on the RAF Police.

I consider this report to be a positive endorsement of the RAFP providing assurance from an independent civilian authority that the RAFP is well led overall. Six recommendations have been made and five areas for improvement have been identified. The Royal Air Force accepts the report’s findings and work is already under way to address the recommendations and areas for improvement.



RAF police give boost to Diss Rugby Club fundraising event
Corporal Chris Chaplin, Sergeant Leon Jokat, Gordon Johnson, Sergeant James Thomas, Corporal Allan Gardner at Diss Rugby Club. Picture: RAF

Corporal Chris Chaplin, Sergeant Leon Jokat, Gordon Johnson, Sergeant James Thomas, Corporal Allan Gardner at Diss Rugby Club. Picture: RAF

RAF policemen have travelled up the road from Suffolk to Norfolk to support a fundraising event held at Diss Rugby Club that raised 350 to help former personnel and their families.

Personnel from 1(Tactical) Police Squadron supported the Royal Air Forces Association’s Diss branch Wings Appeal at the Diss v Norwich Rugby Game last Saturday.

This is the first event supported by the squadron, which has been aligned to the Diss branch as part of RAF Honington’s overall effort to support the association.

Fl Lt Anthony Xavier, from the squadron, said: “Squadron personnel were keen to volunteer for the event and saw the benefit of supporting the work of RAFA in Norfolk and Suffolk.

“Further support is planned for 2017 with the aim of developing a strong relationship with the branch and also allowing branch members to visit the squadron in the future.”

Gordon Johnson, RAFA Diss branch membership secretary, praised the positive impact of having uniformed and serving personnel available to support the association’s work and added that previous events without squadron personnel had raised around 100.


This RAF Police campaign aims to significantly reduce alcohol related offences: Target Zero

This RAF Police campaign aims to significantly reduce alcoholrelated offences: Target Zero
This RAF Police campaign aims to significantly reduce alcohol-related offences: Target Zero.

A mixture of briefings, surge operations, messaging and, in some places, free soft drinks for drivers, Target Zero is designed to help keep personnel safe this festive season.

Project Officer, Flt Lt Mark Wareing, said: "This is so much more than a Christmas drink drive campaign, this is about keeping everyone safe and enjoying the festive period."


Bus firm on board with armed forces
From left, Simon Webb, Manuel Church, Daniel Smith, George Vassallo, Mark Hayward, Stephen Peters,  Gareth Jones, and Steve Parry.
From left, Simon Webb, Manuel Church, Daniel Smith, George Vassallo, Mark Hayward, Stephen Peters,  Gareth Jones, and Steve Parry.

NEWPORT Transport has been made an official bronze award member of the UK Government’s Defence Employer Recognition Scheme for its work supporting former and current members of the armed forces.

The scheme encourages employers to help the armed forces by employing ex-defence personnel and support those who are already enlisted for reservist duties.

To be recognised by the government for the award, an employer must show a commitment to employing current or former members.

Newport Transport currently employs 16 people who have served or still are serving in the armed forces, 12 of who are bus drivers.

They include Gareth Jones, a former member of the RAF police squadron and veteran of the Northern Ireland conflict, who is projects manager at the bus company.

He said: “The company is hugely proactive in providing opportunities and support for those who have served in the army and those who still are.

“It’s great therefore that this commitment has been recognised by the organisers of the ERS. It is not always easy to find career pathways when leaving the armed forces, but Newport Transport is providing these opportunities.”

Scott Pearson, Managing Director of Newport Transport, said: “We are very honoured to have been recognised by the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme in this way.

“As a company which prides itself on the diversity of its workforce, we appreciate hugely the dedication and experience of the men and women who work for Newport Transport from an armed forces background. Like the rest of our staff, their work is exemplary and their commitment to our customers is second to none.

“We are also very proud of our support of the Royal British Legion. We have dedicated buses in our fleet in memory of those who have served this country. This includes former employees of Newport Transport who sadly lost their lives in the Great War. In memory of these fallen heroes, five of our buses have their names bestowed upon them.

“The poppies that accompany their names will remain there until the 100th anniversary of the end of the war in 2018. We are grateful to all of those who have put the lives of the many before their own and will continue to support former and current armed forces members in the years to come.”

Neatebox inventor wants to help make journeys easier

Gavin Neate of Neatebox. Picture: Greg Macvean/TSPL
Gavin Neate of Neatebox. Picture: Greg Macvean/TSPL

Crossing a road is the kind of everyday activity few people stop and think about. But to those with a disability, the need to navigate busy streets can often be a stressful and frustrating experience.

It was through working with visually impaired people that Gavin Neate came to realise pedestrian crossings could be a hindrance to their progress.
The device allows users to activate crossings with their phones. Picture: TSPL
The device allows users to activate crossings with their phones. Picture: TSPL

His solution, the Neatebox, allows users to activate a crossing via an application in their mobile phone, eliminating the need to locate and then press a button.

First unveiled in 2014, the invention has since been installed at several locations across Edinburgh, including outside the Scottish Parliament and opposite the NHS building in Lauriston Place.

Neate, who is based in the capital, is in talks with one local authority to install Neateboxes at every pedestrian crossing in a medium-sized town.

“We’re not just talking about internet of things - we’re actually in the process of doing it,” Neate told The Scotsman.

“Changing an entire village or town is much easier than tackling an entire city and its 900 crossings. There might only be ten crossings in a small town.”

Neate’s firm belief is that technology can be used to allow more disabled people to travel independently. The entrepreneur spent 18 years training guide dog users after serving as an RAF police dog handler.

He learned first hand the barriers many people face when outdoors.

“Practitioners see problems and find work-arounds,” he said. “I had experience of clients struggling to reach crossing buttons and struggling to cross. Even in the best case scenario, they’re off to the side or awkward to reach.

“If you see that on a daily basis, you either accept it as the way things are, or you think of ways the problem can be solved.

“Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of her desire to see more people with disabilities being able to find work,” Neate continued.

“But first, employers must understand the needs of persons with disabilities. Unless that person can get to work, under their own steam, it’s kind of pointless.

“We want to help people to get to work independently - without having a support worker with them, or having to ask members of the public help you, or changing their route to avoid a certain crossing.

“Neatebox helps someone who cannot reach the button on a pedestrian crossing, But then it will also help those carrying shopping, for example.

“Ultimately, what we’re talking about is something that is totally inclusive. It can be used by lots of different people - but there are some whose lives could be improved dramatically.”

Neate came up with his initial idea in 2006 and then spent several years developing it “during lunch breaks and after work”.

Support from Business Gateway and Scottish Enterprise allowed Neate to form a company and go full-time with the project in 2014.

He has since hired two members of staff after winning further funding, as well as undertaking several paid trials of the Neatebox technology.

The product is now currently going through its certification process before it is sold on the open market.

“The country has woken up to the need for people with disabilities to be not just included in society, but to enter the workforce as well,” he said.

“There’s no reason, if they can reach an office, they can’t be as productive as anyone else.”



A RAF Policewoman was one of the winners at the 'Women in Defence UK' inaugural awards at a ceremony held at the Honourable Artillery Company’s Headquarters.

Flt Lt Harriet Tadikonda was one of 200 nominees across five different categories that were whittled down via a stringent judging process carried out by a variety of leaders from business, professional bodies and government.

One Voice Initiative Anoopam Mission 12 Dec 2015 (c) Paresh Solanki- 61 (1)_web

Women in Defence UK exists to promote the value of women across defence and three finalists from each category attended the ceremony, but it was Flt Lt Tadikonda’s efforts that saw her win the ‘Most Collaborative’ award as founder and director of the ‘One Voice Initiative’. This brought every faith society across Defence together to form a multi-faith and humanist choir in the name of co-operation and tolerance.

In August 2015, tri-service singers, four civilian choirs and the musicians of the Band of the RAF Regiment all came together at RAF Northolt to record the final movement of the five part symphony composed by Flt Lt Harriet Tadikonda.

‘A Path to Peace’, the One Voice Initiative’s single was formally released at an event held at The International Anoopam Mission Temple in December 2015, with the hard copies of the single selling out within minutes of the launch and all proceeds donated to SSAFA – The Armed Forces charity.

On receiving her award, Flt Lt Tadikonda said: “I have been extremely fortunate to work alongside some extraordinary and visionary people on the One Voice project. This award is devoted them and the utterly inspiring servicewomen who were also nominated or won awards. There are now an increasing number of women in high profile roles within the MOD - it is an exciting time to be a woman working in defence.”

Editor: Sal Davidson MCIPR

Images: SAC Matt Baker & Parish Solanki

MOD Crown Copyright 2016