Tag Archives: MI5

GCHQ launches Royal British Legion’s Gloucestershire County Poppy Appeal 2014

To launch this year’s Royal British Legion Gloucestershire County Poppy Appeal, around 1,400 GCHQ staff – both civilian and military – worked together to create a giant poppy in the centre of the iconic GCHQ ‘doughnut’ building in Cheltenham.

Representing remembrance of the past and hope for the future, the stunning poppy was created using Royal Navy personnel wearing black uniforms to form the centre. They were surrounded by GCHQ staff dressed in red rain ponchos and other military personnel attired in green combat dress to form the stalk.

In a year that marks the centenary of the conflict which gave birth to the poppy as a symbol of remembrance and hope, the Royal British Legion’s role remains as contemporary and as vital as ever, supporting today’s generation of Armed Forces families and veterans.

For its part, GCHQ has a long history of supporting the military stretching back to 1914. Whenever and wherever British forces have deployed, GCHQ has been ready to assist, providing intelligence to help keep UK troops safe. Indeed, this enduring connection meant that there was no shortage of volunteers to help the Gloucestershire Legion with their efforts in the centenary year of World War I.

To launch this year’s Royal British Legion Gloucestershire County Poppy Appeal, around 1,400 GCHQ staff - both civilian and military - worked together to create a giant poppy in the centre of the iconic GCHQ building in Cheltenham

To launch this year’s Royal British Legion Gloucestershire County Poppy Appeal, around 1,400 GCHQ staff – both civilian and military – worked together to create a giant poppy in the centre of the iconic GCHQ building in Cheltenham

The completed poppy measured 38 metres in diameter with a 28 metre-long stalk. It was made up of 100 military and 1,308 civilian staff. Thanks to thorough military planning and some loud hailers, it took just over an hour to make sure everyone was position.

‘Top Secret Brass’ – GCHQ’s brass band – provided rousing music to keep the spirits up while everyone found their place. The mood was light at times: a Mexican wave was attempted but as the helicopter flew overhead to take the aerial shots, a poignant silence fell over the courtyard in a shared moment of reflection.

The event gave all involved the chance to actively show their support for the Royal British Legion and the military family.

One of the GCHQ participants who made up part of the petal described his experience. He said: “I was really proud to take part and show my support for the Royal British Legion by joining my colleagues, united in purpose, to honour those who have served – and continue to serve – this country.”

Supporting the work of The Royal British Legion

Nicole Mayall, community fundraiser for Gloucestershire’s 2014 Poppy Appeal, commented: “It’s really moving to see so many people standing together in support of The Royal British Legion’s work and to launch this year’s Poppy Appeal. We’re so grateful to all the staff at GCHQ who’ve made this possible. The money raised through the Poppy Appeal goes directly to the Legion’s welfare work, in turn providing through life care to anyone who’s currently serving in the British Armed Forces, anyone who has previously served and their families.”

Chris – a GCHQ civilian employee who had previously deployed overseas to support the military – spoke about his impressions of the day. “I’ve worked with the military in Afghanistan and seen at first-hand how GCHQ intelligence can help keep UK troops safe while they’re on operations. I’m proud to see so many people from GCHQ showing their support for the Royal British Legion and the military family.”

Participants were invited to make a donation to take part in the event and no less than £1,730 was raised.

The ponchos left over from the day will be donated to charity, namely a number of scout groups in the local area and Bloodbikes (a charity providing out of hours emergency medical courier services to Gloucestershire and the surrounding counties).

The poppy, representing Remembrance of the past and hope for the future, was created using Royal Navy personnel wearing black uniforms to form the centre. They were surrounded by GCHQ staff in red rain ponchos and other military personnel in green combat dress to form the stalk

The poppy, representing Remembrance of the past and hope for the future, was created using Royal Navy personnel wearing black uniforms to form the centre. They were surrounded by GCHQ staff in red rain ponchos and other military personnel in green combat dress to form the stalk

GCHQ: the detail

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) is one of the three UK Intelligence and Security Agencies along with MI5 and the Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). GCHQ works to protect the UK and its citizens from a range of threats to national security, including those posed by terrorism, serious and organised crime and cyber attack.

The organisation also works to safeguard UK forces wherever they are deployed and, through its Information Security arm CESG, provides policy and assistance on the security of Government communications and electronic data.

At the heart of GCHQ’s support to the military is its staff. In recent conflicts, GCHQ staff have volunteered in numbers for deployment to war zones such that they can help keep the military safe. 90 GCHQ staff have received the medal for service in Iraq and 156 for their service in Afghanistan.

During November 2014, a number of memories and reflections of GCHQ staff who have worked to support the military – from World War I to the present day – will be shared on the GCHQ website. Check back at: http://www.gchq.gov.uk for further information from 1 November.

About The Royal British Legion

The Royal British Legion is the nation’s leading Armed Forces charity. The Legion provides immediate support and life-long care to Armed Forces families in need, spending £1.4 million each week to deliver direct, practical assistance and support to the Armed Forces community.

The Poppy Appeal 2014 introduces the Legion’s new position: ‘Live On – To the memory of the fallen and the future of the living’. This message provides a clear understanding of what The Royal British Legion does on a daily basis.

GCHQ has a long history of supporting the military stretching back to 1914

GCHQ has a long history of supporting the military stretching back to 1914

Remembrance is a hugely significant part of the Legion’s work, but the organisation also helps the living to approach their future with hope. Through the ‘Live On’ message, the Legion aims to capture the public’s imagination and reaffirm the meaning of the poppy as a symbol of both remembrance and hope.

The Royal British Legion created the Poppy Appeal to help those returning from the First World War. A century on from the start of that conflict, the organisation is still helping today’s Armed Forces families in much the same way, whether they are having to cope with bereavement, living with disability or working to find employment.

The fundraising target for the Poppy Appeal 2014 is a record £40 million (an increase on last year’s total of £39 million).

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Alex Younger appointed as next Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service

With the agreement of Prime Minister David Cameron, Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has announced that Alex Younger is appointed as successor to Sir John Sawers as Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service. Younger will take up the appointment in November.

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), often known as MI6, collects Britain’s foreign intelligence. The Service is based at Vauxhall Cross in London and provides Her Majesty’s Government with a global covert capability to promote and defend the national security and economic well-being of the United Kingdom.

Philip Hammond stated: “I’m pleased to announce that Alex Younger has been appointed as the next Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service. The work of MI6 is world class and its operation vital to the safety and security of the United Kingdom. Alex brings a wealth of relevant experience to the role, including his work in Afghanistan and helping keep the country safe during the London 2012 Olympics.”

Hammond added: “I’d also like to thank Sir John Sawers for his strong leadership and personal commitment to a modernising agenda. I wish him well for the future.”

Alex Younger: the next Chief of MI6

Alex Younger: the next Chief of MI6

Commenting on his appointment, Alex Younger said: “I’m delighted and honoured to become Chief of the Secret Intelligence Service and lead one of the best intelligence agencies in the world. Our dedicated staff work tirelessly against an array of threats that this country faces. They do so in close partnership with both MI5 and GCHQ with whom I’m looking forward to co-operating very closely.”

Younger also commented: “I would like to pay tribute to John Sawers for his lifetime’s dedication to the country and particularly to his time as Chief of MI6. He brought us into a new era, and I’m determined to build on this and bring my ideas for a modern Service to life.”

In response, Sir John Sawers said: “I’m delighted that my colleague and friend is taking over from me. He has played a vital part alongside me in modernising the SIS and ensuring that the Service is in the best possible shape to play its part in defending the country’s security and our values.”

Alex Younger: the Curriculum Vitae

Alex Younger is a career SIS officer and has been in the Service since 1991.

For the last two years he has been overseeing the Service’s intelligence operations worldwide. Younger has held overseas postings in Europe and the Middle East and was the senior SIS officer in Afghanistan.

He has filled a variety of operational roles in London, including leading the Service’s work on counter-terrorism in the three years running up to the 2012 Olympic Games.

Before joining the Service, Younger – an economics graduate – served as an officer in the British Army.

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