Former Chair of East Anglia RFCA, Ian Twinley, was recognised with an MBE in The King’s Birthday Honours List 2023 for his voluntary service to Defence. He credited his parents for instilling in him a strong sense of responsibility and his wife for supporting him to devote himself to his endeavours.
Ian was appointed Chairman of the East Anglia Reserve Forces & Cadets Association in 2018, having chaired the Employer Engagement Board since 2012. Also in 2012, he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Essex for his services to charity and youth by HM Lord-Lieutenant for Essex, who is a vice-president of East Anglia RFCA. Ian Twinley completed his term and stepped down as Chair of East Anglia RFCA at our AGM in March 2023, succeded by Brigadier Tim Seal TD DL VR.
Reflecting on his time with the RFCA, Ian said: “My term serving on the RFCA Board and Council has been one of life’s highlights for me. The fact that I have been the only non-military civilian Main Board Member is also a great honour. I worked with some really smart military folks, which was a huge benefit for my own personal development. I would encourage other non-military business leaders to get involved with the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association as there is great learning for all parties and you will be part of an amazing ‘family’.”
Ian joined Ford Motor Company in 1979 as an Engineering apprentice and continued to work for Ford for 22 years. In 2002, he joined John Grose Group, a car dealership company, as Chairman. His charitable work through the company most recently included providing minibuses to local causes heading to Ukraine to transport refugees from the ongoing conflict, holding events for local charities and providing loan vehicles to charities.
Reminiscing on how he first got involved with Defence, Ian recalled: “About 20 years ago, as an employer of reservists, I was asked to help raise funds for the Army Benevolent Fund and my wife and I hosted a Royal Anglian Regimental event. There, a senior military officer asked me to visit Suffolk-based reservists serving in Kandahar and Camp Bastion, as one of a small group of business leaders, to review how the reserve forces were integrated into the Regular Force. During the trip, I couldn’t help offering ideas and thoughts on equipment maintenance efficiency, logistics planning and personnel productivity. I should have kept quiet as on our return I was volunteered for all sorts of committees and initiatives.”
Ian is a Patron of the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity and Chairman of the Essex Dog Day Committee. He was Chairman of Team Ipswich for five years and a Trustee of the Inspire Suffolk Charity for three years. He is a Suffolk New College Ambassador, the Honorary President of the Norfolk and Suffolk Skills shows and an honorary fellow of the University of Suffolk. From the Georgian estate they call home, his family hold events raising money for charity, having renovated the buildings and grounds, which now are available as a wedding venue. Ian is also a Member of Court at the University of Essex and an ambassador for the Cambridge Children’s Hospital.
The membership of East Anglia RFCA includes employer representatives like Ian who are selected to join for their support to Defence communities and their extensive networks through which to advocate for the Reserve Forces and the Cadet Forces. Community members sit alongside the commanding officers of the Reserve and Cadet Force units in their respective counties to provide Defence with an enduring link with civilian and civic leaders.
Ian Twinley will be invited later in the year to an investiture at Buckingham Palace to receive the award from a member of the Royal Family.