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New Years Honours List: Profiles

The following Royal Air Force personnel are some of those recognised in the New Years Honours List 2023.

Appointments to and Promotions in the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Air Commodore N.J. Hay OBE (now retired)

  • As Commander (CBE)

Image shows individual sat at a table and writing in a book.

Air Commodore Hay is the Commander of the Royal Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Force. He has made an exceptional and pivotal contribution to the success of the Force over the last 3.5 years and has been the leading figure behind delivering the UK’s Defence and Security ISTAR objectives. Hay has also excelled in his previous roles in UK Strategic Command (Joint User and as Head Capability for C4ISR) and as the Commanding Officer of the Expeditionary Air Wing based in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan.

He has been the driving force in the introduction to service of the Poseidon P8 maritime patrol aircraft. His tenacious drive and commitment ensured the platform was able to immediately provide its no-fail mission in support of the strategic defence of the UK.

Hay’s personal contribution has had a strategic and material impact on Defence’s operational ISTAR output; and, he has significantly de-risked the introduction of future capabilities.

I am humbled to receive this personal honour but it has undoubtedly been a team game. For almost 35 years, I have worked alongside thousands of determined, selfless and amazing people in Defence, be they regulars, reservists, civil servants, contractors, or volunteers, whilst my family have supported me unstintingly throughout. I have also witnessed many overcome professional and personal adversity along the way and the response of all those in the ISTAR Force over the past 4 years deserves special mention – their actions are best described as committed, remarkable and inspirational. It has been a privilege to serve.

Air Commodore N.J. Hay CBE,OBE

The Reverend (Wing Commander) Ian Brown

  • As Officer (OBE)

Image shows RAF aviator smiling.

Rev. Brown has been the cornerstone of the Station Community’s Mental Health, Wellbeing and Spiritual strength during a particularly demanding period, whilst also playing a critical role in the wider region

At the fore of support initiatives, he instigated 'First Tourist Days' to orientate those arriving at their first RAF station and to mitigate loneliness risks seen elsewhere during COVID; he established a 'Buddy System' to connect people due posting to Waddington with future peers helping them prepare and integrate quickly on arrival; and he energised 'Post Operational Deployment' days to help personnel resettle after time away from home. The mental health and wellbeing benefits achieved saw them quickly adopted elsewhere in the RAF.

He offered religious support to the whole community, bringing in world faith ministers to support minority groups and innovating with social media in lockdown to sustain human contact.

I’m truly overwhelmed to be receiving this honour. Chaplains seek neither recognition nor reward for their ministry; ours is to serve, not to be served. I consider it such a privilege to work alongside amazing people serving in the Royal Air Force who do incredible work, often in the most challenging of circumstances. I receive this OBE on behalf of all RAF Chaplains whose, often unseen, ministry makes a positive difference to the lives of the women and men serving in our Armed Forces.

The Reverend (Wing Commander) Ian Brown OBE

Squadron Leader Andrea Helen Dowds

  • As Member (MBE)

Image shows RAF aviator smiling in front of a flag.

Squadron Leader Dowds is the Chief of Staff for Base Support Wing (BSW) at RAF Brize Norton. It is for her exceptional contribution to RAF Brize Norton’s reception operations and delivery of COVID support for which she stands out for  recognition.

Receiving Afghan Relocation and Assistance Programme persons and other Entitled Personnel evacuated from Kabul as part of Operation PITTING, her thoughtful, diligent, and hugely effective management of RAF Brize Norton’s Reception Centre was fundamental to the successful execution of Operations PITTING and CARRIAGEWAY.

Dowds also led RAF Brize Norton’s COVID Cell delivering contact tracing and testing. Operating 24-7, the cell coordinated with Air Health and Public Health England to enable local and international contact tracing. Dealing with hundreds of passengers across different aircraft in overseas locations as well as the circa 5,500 service personnel based at RAF Brize Norton, these tasks were relentless, involving long and antisocial hours. Her efforts have ensured effective contact tracing and, more importantly, protected Defence’s outputs.

I am surprised, thrilled and deeply humbled to be recognised on the New Years Honours List 2023. Awards may be received by an individual but it is the people who support them that make the difference and I have been lucky enough to work for and with an incredible group of people who continue to deliver. I could also not have achieved what I have without the support of my family to whom I will always be grateful.

Squadron Leader Andrea Helen Dowds MBE

Flight Sergeant (now Acting Master Aircrew) Matthew Bailey

  • As Member (MBE)

Image shows RAF aviator smiling.

Master Aircrew Bailey is an exemplary Senior Non-Commissioned Officer who excels in the workplace and in the community. As an experienced Mission Aircrew and Airborne Specialist instructor he is at the pinnacle of his profession.

His professional qualities are superb, and his operational skills are simply remarkable. He personally assured the training output for the ISTAR and Air Mobility Forces, making significant improvements in multiple areas. Separately, he further volunteered for a demanding out-of-area role in the Falkland Islands, where he coordinated helicopter support for British Forces, demonstrating excellence in a field outside his specialisation

As a volunteer and driving force of the Lincolnshire Emergency Medical Response charity, he delivers compassionate and inspirational leadership as he devotes an unprecedented amount of his spare time to supporting the NHS.

To receive this award as recognition for my work in the Royal Air Force and wider community came as a genuine surprise. I am immensely proud to have worked with so many high calibre individuals and my volunteer work with Lincolnshire Emergency Medical Response enables me to support my community and the NHS.

Flight Sergeant (now Acting Master Aircrew) Matthew Bailey MBE


Flight Sergeant (now acting Warrant Officer) Fiona Jane Phillips

  • As Member (MBE)

Image shows RAF aviator smiling with her son, who is holding her medal.

Flight Sergeant Phillips is an outstanding ambassador for the RAF. Her selfless commitment to voluntary work and community development is exceptional.

Her passion for teaching has been a thread throughout her career. Her voluntary commitment to the development of a Tanzanian village since 2008 has alleviated poverty through health and education. She has cared for and taught English to over 70 children in a Cambodian orphanage, volunteered at an adults’ residential centre and supported staff at a school for those with disabilities.

In 2018 she found capacity to be on the Akrotiri school governing body. Following fatal drowning incidents, she took on the community lead for drowning prevention. She developed a comprehensive programme promoting water safety and teaching lifesaving skills, and delivered this to all local schools, including the 250 pupils at Akrotiri Primary.

Outside the Service, she co-ordinates children’s triathlons, coaches’ athletics and is the Welfare & Safeguarding lead for British Triathlon.

I an extremely humbled to receive this award for the small contribution that I have played toward raising funds and volunteering for many charities and community projects, that are close to my heart. None of this possible without the support of my family, friends and colleagues.  Regular contact with many families from my charity work is very rewarding to me.

Flight Sergeant (now acting Warrant Officer) Fiona Jane Phillips MBE

Promotions in and Appointment to the Civilian Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire

Mr R. Clarkson

  • As Members (MBE)

Black and white image shows RAF aviator and civilian holding a Space Defence Squadron sign.

Mr Bob Clarkson is the Chief Systems Engineer for Serco, supporting operations at Royal Air Force Fylingdales, and is the engineering genius at the heart of the Fylingdales Radar. In a career spanning 40 years, he has been recognised for his lifetime’s dedication and achievement in furthering the field of Space Domain Awareness, providing Operational and developmental Support to Ballistic Missile Early Warning, Space Surveillance and Missile Defence. He epitomises standards of engineering excellence and has significantly improved the UK’s technical capability beyond any other individual’s efforts. Through his personal innovation, tenacity and foresight he has advanced UK/US technology, operational capability and national security.

It is a great honour to be recognised for the work I  have been involved in over the last 40 years alongside our Royal Air Force partners, it is truly an enduring team effort.

Mr R.Clarkson MBE

Read the full New Years Honours List 2023