From serving royalty to serving in the NHS
Air Marshal Stuart Atha CB DSO MA bsc RAF presenting Robert Ley MBE with his meritorious service medal on Wednesday 14 November at RAF Honington.
In the year that the Royal Air Force (RAF) turned 100 years old, one of West Suffolk Hospital’s newly recruited senior catering supervisors, Robert Ley MBE, was included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2018 and received a meritorious service medal* in recognition of his long-term service in the armed forces.
Robert, 55 from Ixworth, joined the RAF when he was just 17 in 1981, serving for 37 years overall. He worked his way up to catering warrant officer, serving in the UK at RAF Waddington, RAF Shawbury, RAF Biggin Hill, RAF Marham, RAF Coningsby and RAF Honington. He has also served at RAF bases abroad in Sek Kong, Hong Kong, and Oman, and on operations in Northern Ireland and in the Falkland Islands.
Robert said: “I actually received an MBE in the year 2000, which was a real honour, so it was even more of a surprise to also be included on the Queen’s Birthday Honours list in the year the RAF turns 100 years old. I am genuinely proud to receive another award from the Queen.
Robert meeting the Queen at the RAF 75th anniversary dinner, RAF Marham
“One of my best memories from my RAF service was when I was specially selected to maître d′ at the RAF 75th anniversary luncheon in 1993. 120 people attended, including six members of royal family; the Queen, the Duke of Edinburgh, Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, Princess Margaret, Anne, Princess Royal, and the Duke of Gloucester.”
Robert joined West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (WSFT) earlier this year after serving his resettlement and has quickly become one of the team.
“The NHS has more in common with the RAF than you might think – it is staffed by professional people who are dedicated and focussed on providing a top-quality service. We have important goals and objectives to meet, and everyone is encouraged to be aspirational. I really enjoy working here, and have settled in well.”
Brodrick Pooley, catering and community facilities manager at WSFT, said: “We are so pleased to have welcomed someone with Robert’s professionalism and knowhow to our outstanding catering department – he’s a real asset to us, and we are proud to welcome him to the NHS.”
Robert received his recent meritorious service medal on Wednesday 14 November at RAF Honington.
Wing Commander Billy Kidd, Officer Commanding Support Wing at RAF Honington, said: “Having known Rob for the last 18 years, it has been both a privilege and an honour to work with him directly for his last 12 months of Service here at Honington. It was great to see him again recognised in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List, and it is fantastic to know his exceptional culinary skills, honed throughout his 37 years in the RAF, are now being well utilised and appreciated in the NHS.”
* The Meritorious Service Medal (MSM) recognises long term service in the armed forces of non-commissioned ranks. Officers may be considered immediately after commissioning, and it is only issued to current serving personnel who have been recommended by the commanding officer. A limited number are awarded each year.
Robert Ley MBE in the Time Out restaurant at West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust
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