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The 2022 annual Remembrance Day was marked in poignant way on Teesside with the unveiling of two ambulances featuring a permanent display of poppies.

CEO of Stockton based CIPHER medical and war veteran Andy Thomas led commemorations to fallen and injured comrades by marching as part of the MERT Club who laid a wreath at the Cenotaph in London, representing his time served as an RAF Paramedic, a member of the MERT (Medical Emergency Response Team) club and his company CIPHER Medical, which employs 15 veterans and active serving personnel.

Andy Thomas left with members of MERT

While the annual day is symbolically powerful, Andy, 43 from Ingleby Barwick, who continues to support military veterans and serving personnel was keen to show a mark of permanent respect, stating:

“Military service is a highly dangerous and stressful environment, and the permanent poppies are a way for us to show continuous support and recognition for those who have given for this country. Many have paid the ultimate price for the freedom we enjoy and this serves as a subtle, but significant symbol of that sacrifice.”

The team paying tribute

In addition to the Cenotaph, CIPHER Medical paid its respects across Teesside with veteran and head of ambulance operations Chris Mills placing a wreath in Stockton while veteran Jack Mitchell and active reservist Aaron Mallinson were involved in the service at Middlesbrough.

The MERT Club was established in 2021 by those who served in Afghanistan between 2006 and 2014 as an opportunity to support each other, and collectively pay their respects. The group march behind the CASEVAC Club which is made up of those who were injured and rescued during this conflict, in a fitting symbol of the continued support military medical personnel provide.

Chris Hills, Head of Operations for CIPHER and veteran at Stockton Remembrance service

Andy began his career in 1998 as an RAF Medic and served in military operational deployments around the world including Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa prior to medical discharge in 2016.

He was involved in the evacuation of more than 400 people from the battlefield of Helmand, where many lost lives and limbs. The effects of war are extreme and everlasting. Many pay the ultimate price, and the affects reverberate across many more loved ones.

Andy has managed to not only survive an 18 year career in some of the most dangerous conflicts in modern history, but also build a medical organisation that continues to deliver high levels of critical clinical provision through his 40+ ambulances and Stockton based training facility. At the forefront, is a desire to help. A desire to help the public in their hour of need, but also support service personnel, and remember those who have fallen in a remarkable expression of ‘Lest We Forget.’

Andy during active service
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