Sailor rewarded for Afghan help

Gary Ibbotson
Gary Ibbotson

ADVISING the Afghan National Army on fitness training led to a Bridlington sailor getting a military honour.

Gary Ibbotson, 36, a former Headlands School student, is a Petty Officer in physical training with the Royal Navy.

Last year, he carried out a six-month tour of duty to Afghanistan. Based at the Kabul military training centre, he shared his 14 years’ experience of military fitness training to teach instructors from the Afghan army.

In recognition, he was presented with the clasp to his General Service Medal, which he was originally awarded in 2005 to acknowledge his service on HMS Campbeltown during a deployment to the Gulf.

PO Ibbotson said: “Being in Afghanistan was unbelievably hard work. It is a hard environment to live and work in because of the heat and dust, made worse by having to carry weapons and wearing body armour for personal protection.

“However it was also very rewarding and my hat goes off to the Service men and women who have returned on numerous occasions.”

While in Afghanistan, he was temporarily promoted to Chief Petty Officer and also worked as a part of the UK team assisting with the setting-up of a new ANA Infantry Branch School.

Gary joined the Royal Navy in 1991, originally as a Radio Operator.

He transferred to the Physical Training branch in 1997 and has since served on board HMS Coventry and HMS Campbeltown and ashore at HMS Drake and the Commando Training Centre Lympstone in East Devon.

In 2006, he completed the Royal Marines’ All Arms Commando Course, earning the right to wear the coveted Royal Marines’ green beret.

Currently living in Plymouth and based at HMS Raleigh, the Royal Navy’s largest training establishment in the South West, he is responsible for co-ordinating the annual fitness test, which every sailor must undertake.

A committed sportsman, he has represented both the Royal Navy and the Combined Services at athletics, has also played football and rugby for the service and has recently taken up road cycling.