Chris Harness - The Gaffer

Born and bred in Aldershot, a skinny Army brat, nicknamed "Skinny Chris" by my sisters.

I enlisted into the British Army on the 26th April 1982 and headed off to Junior Leaders Regiment Royal Corps of Transport on the 1st June 1982. I was nearly discharged as I'm sure they thought I was too soft and said I wouldn't get far; I managed my way through and was forced into the movement controller role. My career highlight was in 2003 when I was awarded the MBE in the New Year's honours list. Proving all those trainers and assessors wrong.

I finished my time in Aldershot as a WO1 having never served in Iraq or Afghanistan and went on gardening leave towards the end of 2007 until officially retiring on New Year' Day 2008.

Happily dating Kim, so all you eligible bachelorettes have lucked out. These days I'm affectionately known as Gaffer by the committee and those close to me, that includes Kim.



Steve Collins - Jumper




Leanne Murphy - Rothers

I joined the Royal Navy in 2003, as Operator Mechanic Communications (OMC), after completing my trade training at HMS Collingwood I joined my first ship HMS Nottingham, a Type 42 Destroyer after her rebuild from running aground in Australia. I was on her for about 3/4 months getting ready for BOST (Basic Operational Sea Training) when I was redrafted to The NPA (Naval Prosecuting Authority), working with the Prosecutors and ensuring they were prepared for all the Court Martials. 

I left the RN in 2006, unfortunately I didn't get to travel overseas, but I did visit Scotland and Plymouth.

I live in Middleton, with my fiancé John (due to marry in August 2019) and 2 cats. 



Kevin Rowe

I joined the Royal Navy 7 August 1973 until 15 November 1996 (23 years, 3 months, 8 days) as a Gunner, I left as a Leading Hand Gunner. I served on HMS Antrim during the Falklands conflict, I was one of a 6-man Ceremonial Guard for a POW funeral. 

I joined the association October 2018 after the previous Naval Chair Terry White invited me. I now live in Whitefield and I am proudly the HMS Antrim standard bearer.



Barry Phillips - Len

I joined the Army in April of 1993 originally signing up for the Parachute Regiment but due to a knee injury I had to move regiments.  

I moved over to the Royal Green Jackets as they were seen as the next best infantry unit in the British Army and also the first Marines. Whilst with them I visited Cyprus, Jordan, Canada and The Falklands, I did operational tours of Bosnia and Northern Ireland.

I left the Army in September of 2000 and since then I have been a Fraud Investigator, an actor and a pub landlord.

Born in Salford, currently live in Bury with my fiancée Sam and our 4 amazing children.



Owen Mitchell Dykes - Radar


I was born outside Bulawayo, Matabeleland, Rhodesia in 1974. I come from a long line of Military background tracing my ancestors back to the Voortekker, both my parents served in the Rhodesian Army. I came to the UK in 1987 when I was 13 and settled on Nottinghamshire, I joined the Army on 26th June 1990 as a Junior Leader Royal Regt of Artillery and did my training at Gamecock Barracks in Nuneaton. Once I finished training and passed out I joined my Regt in Dortmund, Germany (58 Eyre's Bty, 12th Regt RA), in 1994 the Regt moved to Dempsey Barracks, Sennelager, Germany and then to Baker Barracks, Thorney Island outside Portsmouth. 

From 2012 till 2014 I was posted at the Advance Training Wing at the Defence School of Transport, Lechonfield before discharging on the 15th July 2014 as a Sergeant.

I have served in Cyprus, Northern Ireland, Afghanistan, Iraq as well as most of the Middle East, I have also been to America, Oman on Exercise Saif Sareea, Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Australia.

I met my wife Joanne Dykes in 2006/2007 which is the reason why I settled on Bury and have two daughters Zayna and Tarryn 



Paul Newton

 I served 12 years as an RAF Medic, including tours in Northern Ireland and Bosnia accompanied by multiple aeromedical evacuations across the world.  

Since leaving the RAF I have consistently worked with young people with extreme and challenging behaviours in residential and educational settings. I volunteer as an adult instructor with the Air Cadets as well as supporting the delivery of the Duke of Edinburghs Award. I am the Standard Bearer for the Royal Air Forces Association Caduceus (Medical Services) Branch and am a committee member of the Royal British Legion Farnworth and Kersley Branch. 

I continue to play rugby for Bolton RUFC and help support England RFU student rugby. When I have spare time you'll find me out walking my dog in the local area, still getting my 10,000+ steps a day in. 



Debbie Wilson


Local Lancashire lass, wanted to be a professional football player, sadly born wrong sex or wrong era. Redundant at 19, Police or Forces, Forces meant away from home and abroad so forces it was. 

Brothers and sister in Army, great advert for the Army (not), Navy Careers couldn’t be bothered letting us in, and Royal Air Force were nearly putting the flags out for me. Trade chosen, helped by knowledgeable Careers staff. I wanted RAF Police, no, you can’t join off the street and you need to be able to drive. After discounting mechanical or technical trades (what was I thinking) I had the choice of Nurse (too much blood and other nasty things), Survival Equipment Fitter-What do they do?-they fix dinghies-Dinghies?? It’s the RAF!!. Telecommunications Operator-What do they do?-they get pieces of paper through a hatch, OK and so began my WRAF adventure. 1984-1989 5 years of paper through hatches, great camps (RAF Cosford, RAF Brampton and 11SU Rheindahlen).

Great people, and represented the RAF at Table Tennis winning a few trophies especially at the inter-services. 


Civilian CHAIR

Shirley Simmons

 I was part of the Breakfast Club when the Association was formed. Since then I have worked with the HUB and been involved with projects such as Community Garden, Bee Keeping and Owl Husbandry. 



Leah Simmons




Sam Phillips

I have never served in the forces, but my dad and fiancé have. When my children went into full time education I wanted to help support veterans in the local community, I volunteered with SAFFA and other local charities.  



Marina Jones




Roy Counsell




Anthony Dalton-Hughes


Hi, l’m Anthony. The BOBVA associations photographer, a Veteran, and proud to have served as a Fusilier.  I was born and bred, retired and still living in Bury.  I am also the one responsible for taking most of the photos during any BOBVA outings. Jokingly some members shout “Hey David Bailey where’s your camera”.  I do hope you enjoy visiting the site.