Gold Standard Employers Honoured for Supporting Armed Forces

Fourteen organisations from across the wider West Midlands area attended an awards ceremony in Shropshire to receive their Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Gold Awards, recognising their exceptional level of support to the Armed Forces community.

Held at Lilleshall House and Gardens in Shropshire – also home to one of the UK’s National Sports Centres and the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre – the awards were presented by Air Commodore Adam Sansom, Air Officer North England, on behalf of the Ministry of Defence.

The winners from the Herefordshire and Worcestershire region included Herefordshire and Worcestershire Chamber of Commerce, Stepway CIO and West Mercia Search & Rescue.

The Gold Award is the Ministry of Defence’s highest level of award available to employers who have gone the extra mile to support the wider Armed Forces community within their workforce, and communities.

To win a Gold Award, organisations must provide ten extra paid days leave for Reservists and have supportive HR policies in place for veterans, Reserves, and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, as well as spouses and partners of those serving in the Armed Forces.

Organisations must also advocate the benefits of supporting the Armed Forces community by encouraging others to sign the Armed Forces Covenant, and engage in the Employer Recognition Scheme.

This year 193 organisations were awarded the prestigious Gold Award nationally, making it a record-breaking year since the awards scheme launched.

Colonel Richard Maybery, Chief Executive at West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association, commented: “It was such a pleasure to be at the National Sports Centre, which encompasses the iconic Battle Back Centre, a place which embodies the spirit of the Armed Forces Covenant.  A truly fitting place in which to mark the selfless commitment and huge enthusiasm of our Gold Award winners.  All of them are exemplars in going above and beyond in their support for the Armed Forces community.

“I’d like to publicly thank all the winners once again on behalf of Defence, and to say how much, as an Association, that we look forward to continuing to build on our relationship with them.”

Captain Paul Tyrer, Team Leader at West Mercia Search and Rescue – and also the Permanent Staff Administrative Officer at Wolverhampton-based Army Reserve unit HQ Company 4 Mercian – said:

“West Mercia Search and Rescue are a 100% voluntary organisation, serving the communities that they live in across the counties of Shropshire, Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The first volunteer from the Armed Forces community joined the charity in 2014 and we quickly realised how strong the shared values and standards were.

“Since then we have strived year on year to increase membership from the Armed Forces community and are proud to say they now make up over 30% of the membership. We are even more proud that our membership includes veterans and serving members from all three services (even a Royal Marine veteran), including Regulars, Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteer Instructors.”

Jennifer Sibbald-Wall, Serco’s Contract Manager for the Lilleshall facility, added: “As Defence Employer Recognition Scheme Gold Award holders, Serco is proud to host the ERS West Midlands event at Lilleshall National Sports Centre, home of the Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre.

“Congratulations to all the winners on the night. I hope you enjoyed the hospitality that this impressive venue was able to offer.”

The awards ceremony also welcomed members of the Invictus Games’ Team UK, who shared their experiences and how the power of sports and the Games have played an important part in their lives and inspiring recovery. The 2023 Invictus Games in Dusseldorf supported 59 veterans and serving personnel within Team UK.

Support on the night also came from Reservists from No. 605 (County of Warwick) Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force Reserves, with music from the RAF Salon Orchestra and the Regimental Band and Corps of Drums of the Royal Welsh (Reserves).

The Royal British Legion’s Battle Back Centre based at Lilleshall supports wounded, injured and sick service personnel, whether it is returning to duty or successfully transitioning to civilian life. The centre also provides programmes for veterans and their families. To date over 8000 serving or ex-service personal have attended the centre since it opened in 2011.

To find out more about the Employer Recognition Scheme and how your business can benefit from supporting the Armed Forces community visit

To view the list of organisations who have signed the Armed Forces Covenant visit