Defence and Security Accelerator and Dstl Staff commended

Staff from the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) have been recognised with Commendation Awards from the Vice Chief of the Defence Staff (VCDS) and Chief of the General Staff (CGS).

The VCDS Commendations, awarded biannually alongside state honours, recognise individuals and teams who have rendered exemplary service to the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Steve Thorngate was commended for identifying and leading the development of RECOVER, a latent finger mark recovery system. This system has been deployed with both defence and security partners to detect previously undetectable latent finger marks on various materials and objects, such as bullet casings. This breakthrough has facilitated successful operational outcomes. In addition to his work on RECOVER, Steve has been an invaluable subject matter expert and leader in multiple roles within the organisation in recent years.

Thorngate commented on receiving his award: “It was such a surprise to be nominated and receive this award. After almost 40 years of service, both military and civilian, this award is testament to the enduring support of colleagues and friends, both personally and professionally. I am very grateful for the nomination and recognition it represents.”

Claire Burt received recognition for her outstanding 42-year career dedicated to enhancing the UK's defence, security, and prosperity. Her journey began in the fields of Military Oceanography and Underwater Acoustics, where she laid a solid foundation for her expertise. Claire's career also included a significant tenure at the British Embassy in Washington, reflecting her international impact. In her later years at Dstl, she played a pivotal role in managing external and international relations, ensuring continued collaboration and strategic partnerships.

Commenting on her award, Burt said: “I am very honoured and delighted that my time working in defence science and technology has been recognised with this award.  I have had an amazing career within Dstl and its predecessors and it has been a privilege to have worked with colleagues both nationally and internationally in support of our armed forces.”

Dstl Chief Executive Dr Paul Hollinshead OBE MBA said: “The number of individual and team awards are testament to the crucial importance of science and technology for the armed forces. Our Support to Operations helps protect lives and our innovation is delivering the equipment that will provide our forces with operational advantage.

“I am immensely proud and send my congratulations to all involved.”

Two awards were conferred to teams within Dstl’s Support to Operations, acknowledging their remarkable contributions.

One team was recognised for its scientific support during the clearance of a 500kg German World War II bomb in Plymouth. The team swiftly provided the military commander with precise damage predictions, guiding the safe defusal procedure. Due to the bomb’s significant risk to public safety, one of the largest peacetime evacuations was executed before safely detonating the bomb at sea.

This award honoured the Support to Operations Deployed Staff, highlighting individuals who, in 2023, deployed operationally to offer impactful advice as scientific advisers or operational analysts. Their roles spanned non-combatant evacuation operations, humanitarian aid missions, and other military activities. These staff members worked tirelessly across various operational locations, collaborating with military and government stakeholders to deliver scientific and analytical solutions, bolstering the UK’s defence and security.

The DragonFire Project Team also received recognition for its extraordinary technical achievement in delivering the UK’s first high-power laser weapon firing against aerial targets at the Hebrides Range. This pioneering demonstration showcased world-leading technology with unprecedented characteristics, establishing the UK at the forefront of laser-directed energy weapon capability.

Industry partners from MBDA, QinetiQ, and Leonardo, who provided equipment and technical expertise, were also acknowledged by the VCDS for their contributions.

Speaking on behalf of the team, Dstl’s Ben Maddison, said: “I’m really delighted that the DragonFire team have been recognised with a VCDS award. The final laser weapon demonstration at the Hebrides was the culmination of over 6 years of work with a very large number of significant contributions from a wide range of people. I’m particularly pleased that this award has been able to celebrate the contributions of people who are often unsung in the delivery of technical work including commercial staff, media experts, project managers and safety experts. Without a real team effort, taking advantage of the full set of skills on offer in both industry and Dstl it would not have been possible to achieve such a ground-breaking milestone.

DASA’s Hannah Platts received a CGS award for helping the British Army find and exploit innovation. Hannah has built strong links across the Army, including at the highest levels, to raise the profile of DASA.

Platts said: “It was such a wonderful surprise to hear that I had been awarded a CGS Commendation and I am delighted that my work for DASA to help the Army find, accelerate and exploit the best solutions in the market has been recognised in this way.”