Two former British army soldiers, turned campaigners and Sunday Times best-selling authors, will be speaking at the Hugh James Autumn Military Conference, on 21 October. The online event will shine a light on the current issues affecting veterans and armed forces personnel.
Veteran MP Johnny Mercer and former Colour sergeant Brian Wood MC will both share their experiences of life after service and the challenges and opportunities the military community are facing.
Johnny Mercer is a Member of Parliament, Veterans’ Minister, Afghanistan Veteran, and best-selling author. He began his professional life in the UK Commandos, serving for 13 years from the tactical to the strategic level in a career including multiple combat operations at the height of the Afghanistan conflict.
Johnny stood as a Member of Parliament in 2015. During his political career, he served on both the Defence and Health Select Committees, chairing inquiries into historical prosecutions of Servicemen and Women and the misuse of prescription drugs, before campaigning for and subsequently creating the UK’s first Office for Veterans Affairs under Prime Minister Boris Johnson in 2019.
In 2017, Johnny’s memoirs from his military career ‘We Were Warriors’ went straight into the Sunday Times Bestseller list. He recently left the UK Government but continues to represent Plymouth as their Member of Parliament.
Brian Wood is a former Colour Sergeant in the Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment and the author of ‘Double Crossed’ – the story that inspired the BBC drama, Danny Boy.
He was awarded the military cross, one of Britain’s highest awards for gallantry, after serving on the front line, in the infamous Battle of Danny Boy. Struggling to re-integrate into family life, he suffered from PTSD. Then, five years later, he was summoned to give evidence at the Al-Sweady Inquiry into allegations of war crimes by British soldiers during the Iraq invasion of 2003.
After years of public shame, Brian took the stand and delivered a powerful testimony, and following the tense inquiry room scenes, justice was finally served. Phil Shiner, the lawyer who made the false accusations, was struck off and stripped of an honorary doctorate.
Partner and Head of the Hugh James Military Team, Simon Ellis, said today:
Johnny Mercer and Brian Wood have both made a significant contribution to the armed forces community – with their personal stories of bravery and dedication and for the tireless work they do to support others. We’re delighted that they’re participating in this, our fourth annual military conference, which connects military charities, organisations, and businesses – and looks to find continued solutions to support our veterans.
The autumn conference, hosted by the Hugh James military team, will also hear from Fergus Williams, the CEO of the charity ‘Walking with the Wounded’ – a British charity to help injured former British Armed Forces servicemen and women in their career transition from the military to civilian life. Prior to working with the charity, Fergus pursued a career in the armed forces. He served in the Welsh Guards for 9 years, seeing active service in Northern Ireland and working at St James’s Palace for the Prince of Wales.
The Founder of the charity Veteran Owned UK will also address delegates at the event. Scott Johnson is a former British Army Royal Engineer. He set up Veteran Owned UK to help support ex-military business owners. It is the largest online business directory which helps people search for a veteran-owned business.