Retired Devon policeman walking the beat in Helmand province

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

After hanging up his police uniform three years ago, retired Newton Abbot policeman Lieutenant Colonel David Ward is back doing what he does best, but this time in the heat and dust of Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Lieutenant Colonel Ward, aged 52, has been a member of the Reserve Forces for 27 years and has moved up the ranks to become a Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Military Police. He is a member of the Police Advisory Training Team in Nad ‘Ali, where he is using all of the skills he has amassed over a 32-year career with the Devon and Cornwall Police Force to train and mentor the Afghan National Security Forces.

Lt Col Ward said:

The culture of the local people is rich and fascinating. Security here is improving by the day which is a tribute to the Afghan police and the ISAF troops who are partnering and mentoring them.

The experience acquired during two tours of Iraq and one of Bosnia prior to his deployment to Afghanistan has given Lt Col Ward the ideal background to pass on a career’s worth of experience to a willing audience. Lt Col Ward’s team is made up of specialist police advisers and military trainers from the Royal Anglian Regiment and the Welsh Guards.

Lt Col Ward said:

Being able to impart knowledge and advice to the Chief of Police in order to help him build a sustainable and professional force in the Helmand Valley is the main thrust of my work here.

What has taken me by surprise has been the warmth and generosity of the Afghan people. Things are getting better for the locals as improvements in security have led to an increase in prosperity in the area. Roads are being built, schools opened and bazaars trading all the time so that farmers can sell their goods. This economic prosperity has eased the hardships that they have had to endure for a long time.

Lt Col Ward is currently halfway through a 12-month posting in Afghanistan and will be home on leave soon to see his wife, Linda, and three children, Kerenza, aged 22, Eythyn, 19, and Myron, 15.

In Newton Abbot Lt Col Ward and his family are keen volunteers and all three of his children serve alongside him in St John Ambulance where he is a senior volunteer for youth leadership in Devon.

Lt Col Ward has had support throughout the tour from his home town and has stated just how surprised and humbled he is by the generosity of the fantastic people of Newton Abbot. He said:

I have had morale boxes from Sainsbury’s. The Women’s Institute in Ipplepen have sent me cakes and the Fuchsia Restaurant has been sending me scones, all of which have been received very well. It is a tremendous boost to know that the people of Newton Abbot are giving their support.

When Lt Col Ward’s year-long tour of duty is over early next year he will be presented with his Operational Service Medal by Lord and Lady Clifford at Ugbrooke House. He said:

It will be an honour to be awarded the medal by Lord and Lady Clifford. Lady Clifford is also the County Youth President for the St John Ambulance Brigade and the sponsor of Bertie Badger.