Belfast Telegraph

New Year Honours: This is for veterans and families, says ex-soldier Andy Allen

 

Andy Allen
Andy Allen

By Stewart Robson

Ulster Unionist MLA Andy Allen is to receive an MBE for services to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland.

A former soldier in the Royal Irish Regiment, which he joined in 2006, he was deployed to Afghanistan two years later.

Mr Allen was 19 when he had his right leg blown off and left leg shredded by a makeshift Taliban bomb while on an early morning patrol at Musa Qala, in Afghanistan's Helmand province.

The young soldier had only been in Afghanistan for two months before the attack, which also left him seriously visually impaired.

"In the early days it was extremely difficult," he told the Belfast Telegraph last night.

"I'm just thankful for the family and friends that I have that got me through.

"To receive this award is extremely humbling and a real privilege.

"I'm completely honoured.

"This MBE is in recognition to veterans and their families and my colleagues who work tirelessly behind the scenes."

Born and bred in east Belfast, the UUP MLA is a strong supporter of armed forces veterans.

Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Harry Gregg, former Manchester United goalkeeping legend- OBE for services to Football. (Paul Faith/PA)
Willie John McBride- CBE for services to Rugby Union. Credit ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy/BLL
Heather Smart, Northern Irelands first female Firefighter- MBE for services to the advancement of women in the fire and rescue service.
Gareth McAuley, Northern Ireland defender- MBE for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Nick Potts/PA Wire.
Crusaders Manager Stephen Baxter- BEM for services to Football in Northern Ireland. Photo Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
UUP MLA Andy Allen- MBE for services to veterans and their families in Northern Ireland. (Photo by Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph)
Professor Anne Carlisle, vice chancellor of Falmouth University, has been appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in recognition of her services to Higher Education and the regional economy.
Adrian McAllister, Deputy Chief Constable, Lancashire Constabulary. OBE for services to policing, criminal justice and child protection.
Finlay Spratt, chairman of the Prison Officers Association- MBE for public service and charity
PSNI Inspector Rosie Leech- MBE for services to Policing and the Community in Northern Ireland. Credit: PA
Brian Ingram, Director of the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre near Bangor- OBE for services to vulnerable children and adults in custody. Niall Carson/PA.
PSNI Superintendent Brian Kee- Queen's Police Medal (QPM). Credit: PSNI

In 2010, he established his own veterans charity to help meet the needs of former service personnel and their families who were living in Northern Ireland.

And earlier this year, the former soldier received a national honour - the Soldiering On award - for his charitable work helping other veterans.

As the only wheelchair user among Stormont MLAs, Mr Allen has also been prominent in raising issues of access for disabled people to the Assembly.

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