A disabled Chard Reservist has received a top award from the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset for his service to the Territorial Army.
Serjeant George Pas, aged 38, joined B Company, 6th Battalion, The Rifles, in 2001 and was mobilised twice for operations in Afghanistan. In 2011 he was due to be mobilised for a third time when he was involved in a road traffic collision that broke his back in eight places, changing his life forever.
Despite being wheelchair bound, George said that he never thought about quitting the TA.
“Leaving the Reserves wasn’t an option for me, I really didn’t even consider it,” he said.
“I work with the Company Recruit Mentoring Team at the moment but I would be mobilised again out in the field if they let me. Being in the Reserves gives me a lot of things – friendship, a support network and a real purpose in life. When I was in Afghanistan I knew I was doing something I could be proud of.”
Since his accident, George has undertaken a number of fundraising challenges for military charities such as Help for Heroes and the Royal British Legion, including a tandem sky-dive. He hopes to take on an abseil challenge and a wing walk later in 2014.
He is also in the beginning stages of starting his own charity that gives disabled people the chance to do extreme sports activities, such as quad-biking and abseiling.
“As a member of the Armed Forces I get the opportunity to do these activities because I’m so well supported, but I know other people in my position don’t get the same treatment.
“That’s why I want to start up my own charity and give something back to people who may not have the same opportunities I have been given.”
During a special ceremony held at the Bishop’s Palace in Wells, Serjeant Pas was presented with a Certificate for Meritorious Service by the Lord-Lieutenant of Somerset, Lady Gass, for outstanding service to the TA.
He said: “I really was not expecting this at all, it was a big shock to find out but such an honour and I’m chuffed to bits.”
Others who received certificates for Meritorious Service at the Wells ceremony were:
• Reverend Steven James Reed, of Taunton, aged 61 – Reverend Reed is the Padre for 6th Battalion the Rifles and has played a huge role in supporting Reservists and Cadets across the County since 2010.
• Colour Sergeant Martin Wills, of Taunton, aged 61 – Colour Sergeant Wills has dedicated 41 years of his life to Army music, first with the Light Infantry band and for the past 19 years as a member of The Rifles’ Salamanca Band. He not only has great musical expertise but he supports the group by arranging new music, performing on several instruments and personally seeking out new recruits.
• Chief Petty Officer Rebecca Kerswell, of Street, aged 51 – Rebecca has completed nearly two decades of service to local Sea Cadets after joining the Yeovil Unit in 1994, later working at Glastonbury and Taunton Units. Since she took on the administration at all these Units they have achieved efficiency awards year and year. Rebecca is described as the Taunton Unit’s ‘unsung hero’ by her peers.
• Mrs Elaine Hunt, of Taunton, aged 50 – Elaine is a member of Somerset Army Cadet Force and is described as the ‘linchpin’ in the administration of 33 Cadet centres. She works long hours at little notice and attends countless weekend training sessions, especially in support of the shooting team, which under her guidance has produced a number of national representatives in the UK and overseas.
• Squadron Leader Brian Higgins MBE, of Bath, aged 73 – Squadron Leader Higgins is has contributed to the success of 93 (City of Bath) Squadron ATC for fully 42 years. In 1982 he was awarded an MBE for his continuing success. He freely gives his time, expertise and guidance to Cadets in the Unit on a regular basis and continues to offer an outstanding contribution to the ATC and the young population of Bath.
• Mrs Susan Moorehead, of Wells, aged 55 – Susan has been a member of the civilian committee at 1955 (City of Wells) Squadron Air Training Corps for 16 years and is described as one of the main driving forces for the ATC. She organises a number of fundraising events for the Unit and gives up much of her spare time to support the RAF Central Band staff, organising transport, catering and even the concert programme.