Monday, 26 June 2017

Local army reservist collects MBE

AN army reservist from Henley has received his MBE for serving during operations in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Major Paul Smyth, 42, of the Rifles Regiment in the Territorial Army, was presented with his medal by Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace on Friday.

He has been in the Army Reserves for 12 years, spending four mobilised in support of operations, where he was a PR consultant providing media advice in war zones.

He was honoured for his ground-breaking work using social media, blogging, filmand photography to help communicate the work of the armed forces to media organisations around the world.

Maj Smyth, of Friday Street, said: “I did a whole load in terms of bringing to life the work of the armed forces on operations through social media and other outlets which haven’t traditionally been used.

“A large part of the credit is due to all those very inspirational people I was lucky enough to be deployed with.”

He completed six tours of duty, including his final six-month stint in Afghanistan where he accompanied Prince Charles on a visit to Helmand Province. He said: “It was a real privilege to receive the MBE from the prince. He is the most senior member of the royal family to visit Afghanistan and we had a brief discussion about that trip on the day.”

Maj Smyth attended the ceremony accompanied by his wife Becky, a book-keeper for SES Saddlery in Sonning Common, and daughters Jessica, 10, and eight-year-old Annabel, who both attend Rupert House School in Bell Street, Henley. He said: “It was incredibly special and I was lucky enough to celebrate it with all of my family.

When I left the palace with my medal my family started cheering and then a whole load of tourists and spectators started cheering and I ended up posing for photographs with them. It was an amazing day.”

Out of uniform, Maj Smyth works in London for Hill and Knowlton Strategies, a PR and communications agency, and leads a team working with the army and Capita to recruit soldiers.

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