MILITARY service is something that is in the blood of ambitious soldier Warrant Officer Neil Donaghy.
The 35-year-old’s family is steeped in military history – with relatives including army brigadiers and even a young sailor who was promoted by Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson while serving on HMS Victory.
I was just chuffed to bits when I received the medal. It’s not very often you get recognised for doing your job wellWO2 Neil Donaghy
And now Neil can take his own place in the history books after he was presented with one of the world’s top military accolades.
The veteran soldier – who has completed four tours of Afghanistan – received the Nato Meritorious Medal at a ceremony at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe in Belgium.
The award is normally reserved for the world’s top officers.
But WO2 Donaghy received it in recognition of his exemplary leadership and exceptional contribution to the alliance while he was based at Nato HQ.
Speaking to The News, WO2 Donaghy said: ‘It was a massive surprise. I was just chuffed to bits when I received the medal. It’s not very often you get recognised for doing your job well.’
Neil grew up in Fareham and went to Brookfield Community School.
He signed up for the army straight from school in May 1998.
After completing his training, he joined the Royal Corps of Signals.
He rapidly rose through the ranks and eventually gained the prestigious title of Yeoman of Signals, in the Royal Corps of Signals.
His job has taken him across the globe, with postings in Germany, Afghanistan and Kosovo.
Neil started his posting with Nato in March 2014. His role saw him overseeing communication planning on key Nato operations, including the peacekeeping mission in Ukraine.
Proud mum Janet Mathews, 58, of Fareham, said Neil’s achievements were incredible.
‘It’s amazing. He is standing there next to generals and brigadiers from across the world getting the medal.
‘It’s unbelievable that he has stuck out of the crowd like this.
‘He has always wanted to be in the army. I’m so proud of him.’
Neil’s great-great-great-great-grandad, Captain Sir Alexander Dixie served on HMS Victory.
Neil added he will now be framing the medal – once he gets a chance.
‘It’s just been really busy at the moment,’ he said.
Neil is currently based at the 42nd Infantry Brigade Headquarters in Preston.