We currently employ 67 staff in over 20 sites in East Anglia, including 45 permanent support staff at our five Army Cadet Force county HQs.
Our Association Membership includes 167 voluntary members who interface with the local community and act as local ambassadors across the range of RFCA interests. That they are prepared to give so freely of their time is a testament to the high regard in which Reserves and Cadets are held.
The Association Board is the key instrument of governance, led by our Association Chairman. Chairmen and Vice Chairmen may hold their appointments for up to five years subject to the vote of Association members.
The Association Board ensures that the responsibilities of the Association, as set out in the Reserve Forces Act 1996, are carried out in an efficient and effective manner. It gives direction to the Chief Executive and his staff to ensure that the key outputs are achieved.
President of the Association
HM Lord-Lieutenant of Bedfordshire Helen Nellis
Helen Nellis is Her Majesty’s Lord-Lieutenant for Bedfordshire since 2012, at which time she also became president of the RFCA’s Bedfordshire forum. A qualified Barrister, she has worked as a global senior executive search professional and has a consultancy business as an executive coach.
She is a trustee, president, patron or member of a number of charities, including ABF the Soldiers’ Charity and SSAFA Bedfordshire Branch. She has strong links with health and education authorities in the county. She was appointed President of the East Anglia RFCA in 2017 for a term of three years.
Helen is married with three children, she is attempting to learn golf and she has been involved in supporting development in a village in Ghana for many years.
Ian Twinley DL
Ian Twinley joined Ford Motor Company in 1979 as an Engineering Trainee. He finished his apprenticeship in 1983 and then held a number of appointments in Ford of Britain, Ford of Europe and Ford U.S.A. Ian also attended a Ford sponsored Management MBA Program.
In 2002 he joined John Grose Group as Chairman. John Grose is a multi franchise Dealer Group established in 1888 with a turnover of £175 million, employing four hundred staff. The Suffolk based Group has won the Ford Chairman’s award for Customer Satisfaction 19 times, and is ranked one of the top Ford Dealers in the Country.
Ian has recently stepped down as a Vice President of Group1 automotive, a Fortune 500 Retailer that owns 48 UK Dealerships that includes BMW, Audi, Jaguar, Land Rover and Ford. They employ 3300 people in the UK.
As an employer of Reservists and Cadet Force Adult Volunteers, and a Co-opted Employer Member of East Anglia Reserve Forces & Cadets Association, Ian travelled to Afghanistan in 2008 and spent time with Suffolk based reservists serving in Kandahar and Camp Bastion.
For his services to charity and youth within the region of East Anglia he was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of the County of Essex.
Ian was Chairman of Team Ipswich for five years and a Trustee of the Inspire Suffolk Charity for three years. He is a fellow at Suffolk New College and loves spending time motivating the students. In 2014 Ian was instrumental in establishing the annual Suffolk Skills Show, where 5,000 young people engage with over 100 local businesses.
Both he and his wife Alison have a passion for historical buildings; they are currently renovating a tired Georgian parkland property as a proposed event centre. They are also keen fundraisers and events at their Essex home over the last five years have raised over £500,000 for local charities.
Ian was elected Chairman of the Regional Employer Engagement Group of East Anglia Reserve Forces & Cadets Association in 2012, becoming a member of the Association’s Board at the same time.
County Chairman for Bedfordshire
Major John Whatley TD DL VR
Maj John Whatley was educated at Bedford School in Bedford and after 6 years in the Regular Army, serving in the UK, Germany and Northern Ireland, joined B Coy 6Bn R Anglian Regiment in September 1974. Due to a change of civilian career he left the Battalion in 1985 and reverted to the Regular Army Reserve before re-joining the TA in 1986 and was posted to HQ EDist.
In 1990 he was posted to HQ 54Bde and in 1995 to HQ 49Bde. In 1996 he was posted to 1 Coy 5Bn R Anglian Regiment in time to manage the re-rolling to a RLC Transport Regiment. In 2000 he was posted to 49 Bde Specialist Training Team as OC Wing and became Second in Command of 49 Bde’s Regional Training Centre in 2004. During his service with the TA he held a full time appointment with the Civil Service in the MOD, serving in a number of departments the last two being DISC Chicksands as SO2 Trg Pol and RAF Henlow as OC Contract Monitoring Team before retiring in 2012.
Currently he is Chairman of Bedfordshire Reserve Forces and Cadet Forum (RFCA), is the R Anglian Regiment’s County Colonel for Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, is a member of Bedford Borough Council’s Community Covenant Forum, a member of the committee arranging the Army Vs Bedford Blues Rugby Club bi-annual Mobbs Memorial match and is Chairman of the Bedford Branch of the Royal Anglian Regiment Association. He is also a member of the Bedfordshire ABF County Executive Committee.
John is married to Carole, they have two grown up sons and live in a North Bedfordshire village where, during his free time he dabbles in Agriculture, being on the committee of the Village Allotment Association.
County Chairman for Cambridgeshire
Brigadier Tim Seal TD DL VR
Tim Seal joined the TA as a private soldier at D (Cambridgeshire) Coy 6 R Anglian in 1987, was selected for officer training soon afterwards and commissioned in 1989. Following stints as Pl Comd at Wisbech and Cambridge, he was appointed OC Recce and moved to 5 R Anglian in Peterborough, where he remained throughout the transition and re-role to 158 Tpt Regt RLC in 1995.
The usual round of staff and promotion courses led him to sub unit command in Bedford and then to CUOTC where he took on the combined role of Trg Maj and Regt 2IC. His first taste of staff duties took him to HQ RLCTA where he was DComd of the ARRC assigned Multi National Logistic Group, before returning to command 158 Regt back in Peterborough from 2005-2008.
Tim was promoted to Colonel on appointment as DComd 143 (West Midlands) Brigade, where he had specific responsibility for all young officer training, employer engagement and UK Resilience operations. His post came to a natural end as the brigade made the transition to 11SIGS Bde and he was placed on the unposted list until being selected for Brigadier on appointment as AComd HQ Home Command from January 2017.
In his civilian career, Tim is the Chief Operating Officer for a large healthcare company, providing specialist services to older people and those with severe mental health needs through a UK network of 215 care homes and hospitals.
He is married to Melanie, who is a volunteer for the Citizens Advice Bureau, they have three grown up children, and he enjoys cycling, swimming, cooking and travel.
County Chairman for Essex
Colonel Charles Thomas TD DL
Colonel Thomas joined 3 (Essex) Company, 5th Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in March 1975 at Chelmsford, becoming a rifleman in 7 Platoon. He was appointed Officer Cadet almost to the year in 1976, and given command of 9 Platoon, based at Colchester. He commanded that platoon on exercise in BAOR that year.
Colonel Thomas was Commissioned on 3 April 1977, and given command of 8 Platoon, based at Warley, Brentwood, at the Regimental Headquarters, (Essex), The Royal Anglian Regiment. He served as a TA Platoon Commander until December 1978. In January 1979 Colonel Thomas began a Short Service Volunteer Commission, being posted to 1st Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment in Germany, following the completion of his Regular Platoon Commanders Battle Course. The SSVC provided the opportunity to complete a full roulement tour in Belfast as a Platoon Commander with the Vikings. Colonel Thomas returned to 3 Company in November 1979 once more as 8 Platoon Commander. In 1982, he was appointed Mortar Platoon Commander and promoted to Captain. In February 1985 he was appointed Company Second-in-Command at Chelmsford, unexpectedly becoming Company Commander in July that year, and promoted Major. His tour as a Rifle Company Commander finished in 1989, at which point Colonel Thomas was appointed Battalion Second-in-Command, based at Peterborough. In 1991, he was appointed SO2 G3 Training (TA) 54 Brigade, with a responsibility for training Potential Officers, a job undertaken until 1993. Colonel Thomas was appointed Commanding Officer, 6th Battalion The Royal Anglian Regiment, based at Bury St. Edmunds, in November 1993, and promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. This tour finished in April 1996.
Colonel Thomas was next appointed Commandant, Essex Army Cadet Force in April 1996, finishing in March 2001. He was Honorary Colonel of the Essex Army Cadet Force from 2007 to 2017.
In April 2001 Colonel Thomas was elected Chairman of the Essex Committee of the Reserve Forces & Cadets Association for East Anglia, an appointment still held.
He is Chairman of the Essex Army Cadet Force Trusts, Chairman of the Chelmsford Drill Hall Trust, Chairman of the Royal Anglian and Essex Regiment Regimental Chapel Committee.
On 1 July 2004, Colonel Thomas was appointed Deputy Honorary Colonel to E Coy East of England Regiment, now 3 Coy 3 R ANGLIAN.
County Chairman for Norfolk
Colonel Jamie Athill DL
Colonel Jamie Athill was born and raised in Norfolk and has been the RFCA County Forum Chairman since shortly after his retirement from the Army in 2011.
He was commissioned into the Royal Green Jackets in 1975, serving at regimental duty in the UK, Hong Kong, Brunei and West Germany before attending the Staff College in 1988. After further regimental duty and a staff tour as COS HQ 48 Gurkha Inf Bde, he instructed at the Staff College at Camberley and in Kuwait, before commanding ATR Winchester 1997 – 99. Thereafter, he held defence diplomacy jobs in the MoD, Middle East, South East Asia and Central Europe.
County Chairman for Suffolk
Lieutenant Colonel Anthony Fairbanks Weston TD CStJ DL VR
Following an early career in the Army and the private sector, Anthony Fairbanks Weston has spent the last two decades forging a second career as an independent Turnaround Director/Chief Restructuring Officer.
Over this period he has undertaken a broad variety of board-level business transformation, turnaround and restructuring assignments across the public and private sectors. He almost exclusively works with organisations that are facing significant operational and financial challenges on complex and sensitive high-profile restructuring and transformation programmes that have one thing in common: there is the opportunity to really ‘make a difference’ – influencing and driving change, building and leading strong teams and delivering successful outcomes.
Lt Col Fairbanks Weston was a reserve officer in the Royal Anglian Regiment, having previously served with the Coldstream Guards and the Honourable Artillery Company. He served 22 years in the British Army, starting in 1986. Over the course of his Reservist career, he has served with 7 Armd Bde, 4 Armd Bde, 3 Cdo Bde and US Forces. His operational experience included both Gulf wars, the Kurdish Relief Operation and Afghanistan. He was appointed a Commander of the Most Venerable Order of St John in 1999 and awarded the Territorial Decoration in 2000. His last appointment was as SO1 Media Ops at HQ Land Command. He retired in 2008.
Anthony is a Fellow of the Institute for Turnaround and has worked with the Ministry of Defence and our three armed services, the Police Service, the Fire Service and the NHS, the rail industry, The Equality and Human Rights Commission, three multi-site Further and Higher Education Colleges and a Premier League Football Club.
After 5 years as the East Anglia RFCA’s Vice Chairman for Suffolk, he took over as East Anglia RFCA’s County Chairman for Suffolk in 2016. He was appointed Deputy Lieutenant for Suffolk in 2019.
After leaving school Anthony worked as a cowboy in Montana. His love of the countryside and outdoor life continues to this day and he currently keeps rare breed pigs and very ordinary brown egg laying chickens at his home in Suffolk, where he and his wife Clare and their three boys all enjoy cooking and entertaining family and friends. Anthony has lived in Suffolk for the last 49 years.
Colonel (Retd) Ray Wilkinson QVRM TD DL VR
After Welbeck College, Sandhurst and a Short Service Commission, Ray Wilkinson joined the Territorial Army in 1980 eventually commanding 94 (Berkshire Yeomanry) Signal Squadron providing communications support to HQ SE District, and then 56 Signal Squadron in its independent TIPTOE role. He was awarded the TD in 1993.
He was promoted Lieutenant Colonel in 1996 and privileged to command 71st (Yeomanry) Signal Regiment, which at the time included 70 (Essex Yeomanry) Signal Squadron. After a staff tour at London District, as a result of increased pressures on his civilian employment, he transferred out of the active TA and onto RARO at the end of 2000.
His active TA career restarted in late 2004 when he took up a project role with 2nd (National Communications) Signal Brigade prior to being posted to HQ SOinC(A) as the SO1 TA. He was awarded the VRSM in 2006. In 2008 he was selected for promotion to Colonel before taking command of the Land Information Assurance Group (LIAG) and then of Specialist Group R SIGNALS (SGRS) in 2009 with his units carrying out a wide range of Cyber Operations tasks worldwide in direct support of deployed commanders (including Op HERRICK, Op TELIC, and Op OCULUS). Whilst in command of SGRS he was awarded the QVRM.
In Dec 2011 he was appointed Col TA INT CORPS and Asst Comd 1st Military Intelligence Brigade working with HQ INT CORPS and CD INFO to design and develop the MI Reserve unit structures and capabilities under Army 2020. His most recent post was as the Assistant Director (Army Reform) on FTRS at Army HQ responsible for delivering elements of FR20(A).
In his civilian career from 2005 to 2013 he was the Managing Director of the Best Practice Club™. Prior to that he was the Chief Executive of Victim Support WorkForce. He spent most of his career before then in the field of operations management and business development, ranging from running the Conventional Life & Pensions Division for Legal & General, to Global Practice Leader for Business Benchmarking for Compass Management Consulting, and then as a Director of the British Quality Foundation.
He is married to Elizabeth and they have two adult sons. A Freeman of the City of London and a Liveryman of the Drapers Company; he has a Masters Degree in Business Administration and a Diploma in Management Studies. He is also the Honorary Colonel of 71st (City of London) Yeomanry Signal Regiment, President of the LIAG Dining Club, and a Trustee of Zetetick Housing.
He was appointed a Deputy Lieutenant of Greater London in 2018. One of his passions is learning from military history and he is a Badged Guide (Number 58) of the Guild of Battlefield Guides.
He took up his current appointment as Chief Executive of the Reserve Forces and Cadets Association for East Anglia in April 2015.
Deputy Chief Executive
Major (Retd) Jane Wilkes
Jane Wilkes commissioned into the AGC(SPS) in 1998 and served as an Army Officer until 2014. Her early appointments included Detachment Commander at 27 Transport Regiment RLC, SO3 Officer Recruiting and two Regimental Administrative Officer tours with 1st Battalion the Welsh Guards and 32 Regiment Royal Artillery.
Whilst at Regimental Duty, she completed operational deployments in Macedonia and Bosnia and as the SO3 SPS at HQ 3 (UK) Division, she was selected for promotion to Major. In 2006 she deployed to Iraq as GOC MND(SE)’s VIP Visits Officer on Op TELIC 8 ahead of completing the Intermediate Command and Staff Course in 2007. A posting as the SO2 MS for the JSCSC at the Defence Academy was followed by her final assignment as SO2 (SPS) at HQ 20 (Armd) Brigade which included deployment to Helmand on Op HERRICK 15 as the SO2 J1.
In 2014, she held the appointment of ABF The Soldiers’ Charity National Events Executive Officer, assisting with the delivery of the Gold Award winning RHS Chelsea Flower Show ‘No Man’s Land’ Garden, and in 2015 was the Assistant Stage Manager for the Royal British Legion sponsored play ‘Contact’ as part of the legacy project from ‘The Two Worlds of Charlie F’. She has fundraised over the years for a variety of charities, running the London and New York Marathons, organising The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst Great Pink Bake Off and completing a 455km cycle challenge alongside The Great Wall of China.
Growing up in rural Norfolk and developing an early love of the great outdoors, she completed the Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s Award whilst at Norwich High School for Girls before studying a Medieval and Modern History degree at university in London. She was an Honorary Midshipman in the University Royal Naval Unit and worked for the British Universities North America Club teaching riding in Wisconsin and after graduating took part in the flagship Work Ghana programme as a French and English teacher. Wanderlust has taken her all over the world, from the top of Mount Kilimanjaro to Everest Base Camp. One of her most memorable trips was a month long expedition to Madagascar as the World Challenge Leader with a group of children from The Leventhorpe School in Hertfordshire.
Head of Engagement
Paul has over 20 years’ experience of Engagement and Communications work within the public sector, largely in the area of economic development.
His experience includes Director of Engagement and Communications with a national Black charity where he successfully engaged with over 250 of the UK’s largest private sector companies in order to encourage ethnic minority recruitment.
He has extensive experience of working closely with both national and local Government. He spent 3 years as an Advisor to the Labour Government’s New Deal Task Force and seven years as an Independent member of Essex Police Authority. In 2003 he became a Communications Advisor promoting education and enterprise policy for the then Chancellor Gordon Brown.
He subsequently spent several years as an Engagement Manager with a local authority with responsibility for engaging with residents, businesses, voluntary and charitable organisations, communicating the Government’s £14 million local Enterprise Growth Initiative.
Most recently Paul was Chief Executive of the national charity QUIT before joining EA RFCA on 10th July 2017.