Andy rubs shoulders with royalty at awards ceremony
Published on: 30 Jan 2014
A ROYAL Navy reservist from Mangotsfield mingled with royalty and top politicians at a glittering ceremony in London recognising the country’s military heroes.
Leading Seaman Andy Westlake was inspired to join the Armed Forces after reading his grandfather’s diary which revealed his exploits during the Second World War.
Andy, 45, joined Bristol-based reservist unit HMS Flying Fox 10 years ago and is now undertaking tasks usually fulfilled by a man two ranks above him.
The weapons specialist rubbed shoulders with The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall as well as Prime Minister David Cameron when he attended the Sun Military Awards in December at the National Maritime Museum.
Before the ceremony all nominees were invited to 10 Downing Street where they toured the building and chatted to Mr Cameron.
Andy, who is married with three children and two step-children, was one of three reservists nominated for an award.
Although the accolade of Best Reservist went to Lance Corporal Keith Mallon of the Royal Yeomanry, Andy said it was a great honour to receive a nomination.
“I am completely honoured to have been considered for the award.
“My wife Michelle and I both had the chance to speak to Prince Charles, which was lovely. He is a great supporter of the Reserve service, as is David Cameron who presented the award of Best Reservist.
“We had a lovely time at the ceremony and it’s great the commitment of the Reserves is being recognised so highly.
“I’d like to say a big thank you to my family because I couldn’t do this without their support.”
Andy, whose everyday job is a quantity surveyor for Cowlin Construction, has proven skills with a variety of weapons and now instructs others in how to use them. He is also one of few reservists qualified to drive the Navy’s fast rigid inflatable boats.
Andy recently returned from a 12-month tour of duty as a coxswain in the Gibraltar Squadron.
HMS Flying Fox is recruiting. To find out more call 0845 6003222.