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2019 Soldiering On Awards: 12 Months of Opportunity

2019 Soldiering On Awards Winners

The Soldiering On Awards celebrate the achievements of the military community, by honouring individuals, veterans, their families and organisations that support the Armed Forces community, a natural fit with the X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) ethos.

The Award Ceremony at the Park Plaza, Westminster Bridge Hotel on April 5th 2019 was an outstanding event, hosted by TV personality Carol Vorderman MBE, an Honorary Group Captain in the RAF, and former Royal Marine JJ Chalmers.

Awards Patron the Rt Hon Earl Howe PC Minister of State for Defence and Deputy Leader of the House of Lords said: 

“It has been humbling and a delight to celebrate the achievements of the Armed Forces Community tonight, at this year’s Soldiering On Awards. Each of the Finalists is a shining example to all of us, with their can-do attitude and valuable skills learnt in the service of our country. 2019 is a milestone year for the Soldiering On Awards, which has evolved to become fully incorporated within X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) following the success of our partnership in 2018. This means that tonight’s Award winners will be offered on-going support; ensuring that winning a Soldiering On Award is not an end in itself, but the next step to empower and support the aims and goals of each winner”.

Ren Kapur MBE, Founder and CEO X-Forces Enterprise and Co-Chair said: 

“The stars of the night are all of our amazing Finalists and the overall Award Winners who carry the baton for their respective categories. We look forward to supporting the next steps on your remarkable journeys over the next 12 months through the programme of support provided by X-Forces Enterprise. You are all amazing and we salute you all!”

SOA judges awarded a special commendation for the 2018 Armistice project “There But Not There” which touched the heart of the entire nation and extended its reach internationally.  The 2019 Awards ceremony included a table of 12 seated “There But Not There” silhouettes and a video of the international collaboration was accompanied by Awards Ambassador for the Arts Carly Paoli singing “You Lift Me Up”.

Awards Co-Chair of Judges Debra Allcock-Tyler said

“The entire Nation was moved by this fantastic initiative to ensure we will never forget those who gave their lives for our freedom. The Awards Judges felt this deserved a Special Commendation and to make “There But Not There” a special feature on Awards night. We are delighted that our Ambassador of the Arts Carly Paoli sang to accompany our special tribute video of Remembered’s  amazing collaborative work and for us all to take this moment for our own personal remembrance.”

18 Army Cadets provided a guard of honour for guests and supported the evening activities, including escorting presenters and winners to and from the stage along with other operational duties.

Colonel CM Riley ACF, Army Cadet Force Colonel Cadets said:

“South East London Army Cadet Force were so pleased to support the Soldiering on Awards in what was the Army Cadet Force’s national community week. With our Cadets now receiving enterprise training thanks to Ren Kapur and X Forces the awards demonstrated to them what hard work can achieve. The winners and the nominees were an inspirational to our Cadets.”

Guests were also entertained The Magic Marine, Steel Johnson, an XFE beneficiary.



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12 Months of Opportunity

X-Forces Enterprise (XFE) believes that winning a prestigious award in any community or sector is an opportunity that should be maximised.  Within a support package called ‘3:6:12’, XFE pledges to help the 2019 Soldiering On Awards winners to grow and enable them to achieve their next objectives in the twelve months that follow by directing the resources and tools available within the XFE network.

XFE’s 3:6:12 programme will bring the winner into the XFE family, and review their objectives at 3 months, 6 months and 12 months, when the batten will be handed to the next recipient.  XFE will build on the extensive communications and promotion campaign for all Finalists, prior to the Awards ceremony, broadening their reach and their service/message/ endeavour – be that personal, charitable or enterprising.

The SOA Winner will benefit from accessing the full range of services available throughout XFE including training, knowledge exchange, networking and communications; including introductions to relevant XFE partners across the corporate, government and charity spheres.

Winning a Soldiering On Award doesn’t end on the night; this is your year to shine.


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Meet the Business Category Winners


Network Training Partnership

WINNER: Business of the Year – Start Up Award

Network Training Partnership provides integrated training and recruitment solutions to the automotive, logistics and recovery industries.. with an additional focus on supporting the veteran community. All instructors are ex-military and Network Training Partnership provides free training and access to jobs.

Sponsored by: Sage

Award presented by: The Rt Hon Lord Young of Graffham – Patron, X-Forces Enterprise

Gary Tucker, MD of Network Training Partnership said:

“I was delighted to be included in the Business of the Year category with the other outstanding nominees. We are proud of what we have achieved in a very short period, and our corporate responsibility programme, that is at the heart of all we do, continues to achieve great results and assist service personnel on the transition from the Forces.”

Kevin Doyle, Foundation Channel Manager at Sage said:

“We’re proud of our #SageServingHeroes program which supports veteran entrepreneurs. Through on-going initiatives, Sage is helping to create a new generation of veteran-owned businesses who have the potential to inspire the entrepreneurs of the future.”



UK Connect

WINNER: Business of the Year – Scale Up Award

UK Connect Ltd was founded by former Soldier PJ Farr to provide broadband connectivity to previously unconnected locations, such as new building sites. Realising the battlefield is better connected than some areas of the UK, he started his business with just £1000. It has undergone exceptional growth, become an industry leader, secured contracts with FTSE 100 companies and is now turning over more than £4-million.

Sponsored by: London Stock Exchange Group

Award presented by: Helen Helliwell, Director of the Armed Forces People Policy, Ministry of Defence

PJ Farr, MD of UK Connect said:

“I am so honoured to have won this Award, it means a huge amount to both me and the UK Connect team. As an ex-armed forces member, I am inspired daily by the diverse and dedicated people and groups who support the Armed Forces. I am really proud that our business is involved with something that highlights the outstanding achievements of current and former servicemen and women, and their families. I would also like to say a huge well done to all of the other winners and our fellow nominees involved in the awards!”



Sinah Common Honey

WINNER: Business of the Year – Community Impact Award

When he retired from a 32-year career in the military and police force, John Geden was suffering from complex-PTSD. Struggling to find civilian employment, he decided to take his love of bee-keeping to business and Sinah Common Honey was born. John now manages 200 hives, produces two tonnes of honey and runs beekeeping courses for veterans. He’s about to launch a cosmetic product, with the proceeds going to military charities.

Sponsored by: Cisco

Award presented by: Mike Cherry, Chairman, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)

John Geden of Sinah Common Honey said:

I was thrilled to be even nominated for this award, ecstatic to have reached the Finalist stage and so you can imagine just how I feel to have actually won. That is even more special when I consider the strength of the competition in the category.

“I am humbled by the veterans and service personnel that I work with at Help For Heroes on the Beekeeping project; their stories are quite remarkable and it is an honour for me to run beekeeping courses that may just help relax troubled minds and focus them on something natural and amazing.”

Sinah Common Honey was supported to launch by X-Forces Enterprise; read more about his journey at Army Service Leaver celebrates expansion of his Local Honey Business


The Afghan Rug Shop

Soldiering On Awards The Afghan Rug Shop

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Business of the Year – Community Impact Award

Owned by RAF veteran James Wilthew, The Afghan Rug Shop is the only retail shop outside of Afghanistan purely selling the country’s unique handmade rugs. James sources, imports and sells quality crafts and helps local weaving families to have sustainable incomes. He is the only UK retailer to be accredited with a Label-STEP licence for Fairtrade rugs. The Judges commended him for his international community impact, in supporting the Afghan families with whom he works.

Sponsored by: Cisco

James Wilthew of The Afghan Rug Shop said: 

Being Highly Commended in this Award is most unexpected but a wonderful way to recognise the positive impact we are having on the community in Northern Afghanistan.  It’s rare after an operational tour that you’re able to have any lasting impact, so it’s pretty unique that 15 years on we support over 200 weaving families in the region, which in turn provides economic stability and growth to a region that has suffered from conflict for too long.  We hope that the coverage and exposure the Soldiering On Awards gives us results in more customers, which means we will be able to support many more families in Afghanistan.”


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A full list of all category winners can be found here:  2019 Soldiering On Awards Winners


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