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Honoured RAF veteran joins catering staff at the West Suffolk Hospital

PUBLISHED: 13:58 28 November 2018 | UPDATED: 13:58 28 November 2018

Robert Ley MBE in the Time Out Restaurant at the West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK HOSPITAL

Robert Ley MBE in the Time Out Restaurant at the West Suffolk Hospital. Picture: WEST SUFFOLK HOSPITAL

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He has been honoured with an MBE and included in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.

Air Marshall Stuart Atha presenting Robert Ley with his meritorious service medal. Picture: SAC JAMES LEDGERAir Marshall Stuart Atha presenting Robert Ley with his meritorious service medal. Picture: SAC JAMES LEDGER

Now he has a received a further accolade with a meritorious service medal in recognition of his long-term service in the armed forces.

And in the year that the Royal Air Force turned 100 years old he has been recruited by the West Suffolk Hospital as its new senior catering supervisors.

Robert Ley, who lives in Ixworth, joined the RAF when he was 17 in 1981, serving for 37 years.

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 the Falkland Islands.

Robert Ley meeting the Queen at the RAF 75th anniversary dinner at RAF Marham. Picture: RAFRobert Ley meeting the Queen at the RAF 75th anniversary dinner at RAF Marham. Picture: RAF

The 55-year-old 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.

“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 when 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.”

He joined the 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,” he said. “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.”

Robert Ley when he joined the RAF at the age of 17. Picture: RAFRobert Ley when he joined the RAF at the age of 17. Picture: RAF

Brodrick Pooley, catering and community facilities manager, said: “We are so pleased to have welcomed someone with Robert’s professionalism and know-how 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 meritorious service medal at RAF Honington and 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.”

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