Allan Thomson BSc MSc MA MBA FIET CEng - Chairman

Allan Thomson was born in Edinburgh but spent his early childhood in Zambia before completing his schooling at Portobello High back in Edinburgh.  Rugby was the main theme in his teenage years and he captained Royal High to victory in the Scottish equivalent of the Daily Mail cup. After getting a great education at Portobello High, Allan moved on to Edinburgh University to study Electrical Engineering.  Between playing rugby and canoeing he joined the Royal Artillery Reserves.  He ultimately served 5 years and reached the rank of Bombardier.  After University Allan entered the world of oil exploration and saw various extreme parts of the world.  However, the pull of the Army was too strong and he resigned from the oil business, took a massive pay cut, and entered Sandhurst in 1989.

Allan volunteered for service with the Royal Marines and completed the first of 3 tours with 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines, becoming Commando and Artic Warfare trained in the process.  He then moved to Germany to gain armoured experience, which culminated in serving as the engineering officer for 4RTR and then the Queens Royal Lancers.  He then moved to Army Headquarters and became the logistics lead for the Balkans conflict between 1995-97.  Attendance at Staff College and a couple of masters degrees followed.  After commanding a Royal Marine squadron, which included service at sea and in Sierra Leone and Kosovo, Allan took up his first acquisition staff job.  

 On promotion to Lieutenant Colonel he was put in charge of the Army’s £7Bn budget!  This led to command and then promotion back into London as Colonel Army Equipment Plans.  Allan then moved to the MOD’s procurement business where he ran the Land Equipment budget of £1.5Bn.  He was selected as Commander Equipment Capability for Herrick 13/14 during a particularly challenging period of the conflict, before venturing into the infrastructure world with the Defence Infrastructure Organisation where he produced the Army Basing Plan during an intense 6 month spell in 2012.  On promotion to Brigadier in November 12, Allan became Chief of Staff to the Army Quartermaster General.  He left in June 2014 to join Aspire Defence as CEO.

Allan has picked up three masters degrees during his Army service (MSc in Engineering, MA in Defence Studies and a MBA) and is a Fellow of the IET.  He is an amateur triathlete, always seeking to convince his wife he needs a better bike.  Allan is married to Jane, who served 18 years in the Army, and is now a member of the Parole Board.  Shannon (YOB 96) is a student nurse at Manchester University and a member of the UOTC, and Conor (YOB 94) works in the construction business.  He is a school governor in Andover (a smaller version of his own Portobello High), a NED for Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh and a charity Trustee for the British Forces Foundation.

Steve Cowden - Deputy Chairman

Steve Cowden is a senior commercial lawyer with over 30 years’ experience working for some of the UK’s largest public companies.  Steve retired from Reed Elsevier, the business information publisher, in 2011, after 10 years as General Counsel and Company Secretary. 

Prior to this he worked in the pharmaceutical industry for over 20 years, latterly as Group Company Secretary of Glaxo Wellcome plc and before that with SmithKline Beecham plc.  He is a member of the In-house Lawyers’ Advisory Board of the legal publisher, LexisNexis and is a trustee of the Henri Morel Foundation, a Dutch charitable foundation.

He is a member of the Law Society of Scotland, the Institute of Directors and the Royal Society of Arts and prior to retirement, and was a member of the International Bar Association and an alternate member of the Hearings Committee of the Takeover Panel.  Steve graduated Bachelor of Laws with Honours from the University of Edinburgh in 1974 and is a Scottish solicitor, having been admitted in 1976.

David Keenan OBE

Brigadier (Retired) Keenan was commissioned into the Parachute Regiment in May 1971. He served in many parts of the world as a regimental officer including two UN tours of duty in Cyprus and 5, six month operational tours and 3, two year operational tours of duty in Northern Ireland as Platoon, Company, Battalion and Brigade Commanders. He served outside the Regiment in numerous appointments including exchange officer with the 82nd Airborne Division, 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines and Loan Service in Zimbabwe. He has visited or exercised in some 29 countries across, Americas, Africa,  Far East and Europe. He attended a range of Staff Colleges, both as a student and as member of the Directing Staff, in UK, Zimbabwe and South Africa. His last appointment, before retirement, was as Defence Advisor South Africa.

On retirement from the Army in Oct 2006 he took up the post of Director Business Development with New Line Learning Education Federation in Kent. The federation set out a strategy for educational provision that integrated a new build Academy programme with service delivery and a new model of learning.

 In 2007, he took on the challenging role of Managing Director for a start-up, Not-for-Profit Regeneration Company called Dorset Squared (D2).  It was a free standing Regeneration Company developed as a social enterprise to focus on making Dorset a vibrant place to live and work and providing a 2012 Games (Weymouth/Portland) legacy.  He returned to Army HQ as a Full Time Reserve Officer on 7th Dec 2009 as Director Youth & Cadets to develop strategy and policy and finally retired to enjoy life in Oct 2016.

He is married with two grown up children, who live in Vancouver and Singapore respectively.  He and his wife Wendy, live in North Dorset and enjoy the country life with a menagerie of animals, many hobbies and a variety of other interests.

Andrew Buckham Partner with Irwin Mitchell

Andrew qualified as a solicitor in 1998 having read Law at Leeds and completing an LLM in International Law at the University of London.

He was commissioned into the Army Legal Services in 1999 and completed postings in Bosnia, Kosovo, Cyprus, Germany, Northern Ireland and Canada. Andrew left the Army in September 2006 as a Major and joined Irwin Mitchell’s dedicated Armed Forces Team to help injured Service personnel and their families on a variety of legal issues, which includes assisting severely injured service personnel with brain and spinal injuries with their compensation claims (both on and off duty), Service Inquiries and Coroners Inquests.

He supported Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson and his family in their fight for fairer compensation for injured soldiers and was also part of the legal team that represented all 14 families from the Nimrod accident at the Coroner’s Inquest.  Andrew is married to a GP and has a baby boy. He and his wife recently took sabbaticals and spent time living and travelling in India.

Beverley Young

Beverley qualified as Registered Nurse at Hammersmith Hospital in 1977 followed by specialist training in Intensive Care. From 1980 she spent 7 years in the QARANC and on leaving the Army has held a number of Business Development positions within the independent healthcare sector delivering services directly to patients in their own home.   During the 1990’s she served as a Director and Company Secretary of an Independent business offering consultancy services to the Medical industry.

Beverley is currently working as the Business Development Manager for Active Assistance Group which involves her working in collaboration with NHS clinicians and commissioners as well as Local Authority social work teams, to design and implement complex healthcare services for clients with catastrophic injury or degenerative disease.

The Armed Forces still plays a large part in Beverley’s family life with many of the younger generation currently serving in the forces.

Mike Griffiths CBE

Mike has been Chief Constable and Chief Executive of the Civil Nuclear Constabulary since October 2012.  The CNC is a national police force providing the armed response element of the UK’s civil nuclear security infrastructure.

 Before joining the Constabulary, Mike served for 35 years as an officer in the Army and left as a brigadier. His background in the Army was operations, training, personnel and policy.   He was commissioned into an Infantry regiment, The King’s Own Royal Border Regiment and deployed on operations to Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Afghanistan.   His most recent key appointments were Commander British Forces Afghanistan (2004), Brigade Commander NW England (2006 - 2008), Director Personal Services Army (2008 - 2011).

 Mike is married to Sue, a community midwife, and they have four adult children, of whom a daughter served as an officer in the Intelligence Corps.  Their eldest son, Andrew, served as an officer in The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.  In 2010 he was seriously wounded by an IED whilst serving with the 2nd Battalion in Afghanistan and died from his wounds twelve days later in The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. 

Nick Pollard

Nick has enjoyed a long and illustrious career in the Media Industry most recently spending over 6 years as Chief Executive of the Services Sound and Vision Company SSVC - which runs British Forces Broadcasting and other services for the armed forces and their families in the UK and overseas.

Prior to this, Nick was Head of Sky News for 10 years and Director of Programmes at Channel One News and was a Producer / Executive Producer with ITN for 12 years working at all editorial levels at ITN through its 'Golden Age' of the 1980s and early 1990s.  Nick produced and edited hundreds of programmes, mainly editions of News at Ten but a wide range of special broadcasts including General Election programmes, overseas royal tours and major news 'special events'.  Nick also worked for the BBC for over 5 years in a variety of roles including a newsroom (TV and Radio) scriptwriter/producer/chief sub editor and occasional news editor.  Nick also worked on launch of BBC2's 'Newsnight'.

Nick learnt his craft as a trainee reporter on the Birkenhead News before securing a position as a reporter with Mercury Press.