Royal Navy veteran who delayed charity retirement to help military families during pandemic is honoured by the Queen

A CHARITY chief, who delayed his retirement to help naval families through the pandemic, has been awarded a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the New Year’s Honours.

Friday, 31st December 2021, 10:30 pm

Nigel Huxtable had intended to retire from his role with the Royal Naval Association (RNA) in 2020. But when the pandemic hit, he scrapped these plans to see how he could help.

The former Lieutenant Commander manned the charity’s base in Portsmouth, providing a lifeline for the families and veterans hit hardest during the worst of the coronavirus outbreak.

Determined not to quit, Nigel worked with his team to establish a helpline to ensure shipmates could easily reach out for support where necessary.

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Retired naval officer Nigel Huxtable has been awarded a BEM for his service to Royal Navy veterans.

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He even volunteered to keep the duty phone ready to act at a moment’s notice, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

In the early days of the first lockdown, a large cohort of the charity’s 12,000 members were forced to shield after falling into the most at-risk category of the population.

Through his personal labours, the RNA established a support network which would confirm that all the members would be individually contacted to ensure that they had a personalised support system in place.

His remarkable efforts have earned him the BEM. Reacting to the accolade, Nigel, of Southsea, said: ‘I’m very touched that people thought I deserved to be nominated. I’m very proud to have got it.

‘I have nominated other people who have been awarded it and I know what they have done to deserve it. But I don’t class myself with them; they have been volunteers and I have been paid to do it.’

Nigel finally retired from the RNA in September as membership secretary, after 13 years with the charity.

Captain Bill Oliphant, general secretary of the RNA, was full of praise for his colleague.

He said: ’During his time as our beloved membership secretary he supported countless people in accessing the wellbeing support they needed, connecting them with old comrades, providing them with uniform and gizzets, and offering them local branches to join.

‘So dedicated to his job was he, that he continued to extend his service with us so as not to leave shipmates in need during the pandemic, taking his retirement long after he was entitled to.

‘And although he is now retired, he continues to support the association on almost a daily basis, and will be our duty photographer for as long as he will have us.’

Nigel served in the navy for 17 years, working as an instructor officer supporting the education of sailors across the fleet.

Outside the navy and RNA, Nigel has supported the Royal Navy’s Volunteer Cadet Corps giving over his summer leave to run youth sail training camps at Dartmouth Naval College.

He recently retired from his role as the chairman of the governors at Kings Academy Northern Parade, in Doyle Avenue after being a governor for more than 20 years.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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