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Senior army officer commended for Afghan contribution

A Dorset Army Officer who helped ensure Afghan security forces were able to secure the population through the 2014 elections is to receive the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service.

Colonel Barry Bennett OBE, formally of the Royal Regiment of Artillery, is from Poole in Dorset.

His role saw him serve as the Assistant Director for Security Force Assistance (SFA) within Headquarters Regional Command (South West) for 12 months.

During pre-deployment training he led the development of a whole of staff approach to SFA Credit: MoD

“I am absolutely delighted and over the moon, to be receiving this award, I am so pleased for the other members of my team who have also been recognised for their efforts and are also going to be receiving awards. I am extremely lucky enough to have won an award before. This award is more of a reflection on the whole team and the work we did. I thoroughly enjoyed embedding with the United States Marine Corp.

– Colonel Bennett

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Pensioner fined after swindling money from RAF charity

A pensioner has been been given a suspended sentence of one year and fined £2,400 after de-frauding the charity where he worked.

Victor Scuse, 76, of Wigmore Road, Worthing was treasurer for the RAF Association in Worthing for around eight years and had control of the financial decision making for the club from 2008.

In 2011, he was challenged by the committee at the charity over losses over the last three to four years but Scuse handed in his resignation.

Police started investigating and discovered Scuse had been charging the RAFA club for goods and services which they never received at extortionate prices including an automatic hand dryer - £528.75, 20 litres of weed-killer £451.20 where they don't have a garden, repairs to existing satellite dish - £112.80, repairs to chiller refrigeration unit - £675.63, glass dishwasher maintenance contract - £564.00 and handtowels - £1508.82

During the period 2008 to 2010 the RAFA club received invoices from Forefront Sales, the company Scuse owned, for a total of £26,120.

Following an investigation, Scuse was arrested in 2012 and charged with fraud by abuse of position between December 2007 and April 2011.

The RAF Association is a charity which provides vital support to ex-servicemen and women and relies upon the generosity and integrity of its members. The RAF Association trusted Victor Scuse to carry out his duties as treasurer to the benefit of the charity. Scuse abused his position and the trust that had been placed in him. It is to the credit of the current committee who have worked tirelessly to keep the Club going during this difficult time."

– Detective constable Beccy HopkinsDetective constable Beccy Hopkins

Hampshire dog takes the biscuit in national award

Marilyn the dog from Hampshire has been through so much in her life but since her adoption six months ago things have started to look up - including making the final of a national dog competition.

Marilyn was saved from a public pound in Serbia in 2008, she’d had puppies but sadly none survived. Luckily she made it out alive and while she was safe at the rescue shelter she was taken to, it was like she’d given up and she was known as ‘the saddest dog in the shelter.'

This year Marilyn from Hampshire is one of the finalists in Golden Oldies category Credit: RSPCA

Newbury army officer recognised with prestigious award

A Minley Army Officer who commanded one of the largest Engineer groups ever to is set to be awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Valuable Service in the latest operational honours and awards list.

Lieutenant Colonel Stephen Davies, of the Corps of Royal Engineers, is originally from New Zealand but has served with the British Army for the last 17 years and currently the Chief of Staff Headquarters 8 Engineer Brigade.

Lt Col Stephen Davies said: 'I am surprised and humbled' Credit: MoD

During his tour Lt Col Davies completed the significant engineering feat of closing or transferring three of the largest British bases in Central Helmand on time and under budget.

Energetic and capable, engendering the strongest of ethos and the highest morale, Lt Col Davies built a close team from across the Army, who were able to respond rapidly to the Task Force’s ever changing engineering needs.

Dog-eat-dog world ahead of Oxford competition

This year Snowy the dog from South Oxfordshire is one of the finalists in Golden Oldies category - a rival dog show to Crufts - with pooches perfect on the inside but imperfect on the outside.

Snowy is 17 years young and still loving his life! In his early years though Snowy was passed from pillar to post, by the time he was 18 months old he’s already he was on his third home,” said Ruffs organiser Violet Owens.

Last year was our first ever Ruffs and it was overwhelming how the public responded to this competition Credit: RSPCA

“His new family told us Snowy is the sweetest, kindest, wisest (oldest!) dog they’ve ever met.

“Even though he can't hear or see very clearly now he still loves his walks and play fighting with his adopted canine sibling. He really is one in a million!”

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Motorcycle owners urged to protect bikes

Police in Southampton are urging motorbike owners to review their security and take steps to protect their bikes from theft.

In January police issued a warning following the theft of 22 motorbikes between December 29 and January 15. More bikes have been stolen since then.

Most of the bikes have been stolen overnight from driveways or front gardens. The majority of the offences have occurred in the Harefield and Sholing areas of the city but bikes in Weston, West End, Hedge End, Netley, Hamble, Botley, Bursledon and Thornhill have also been targeted.

Hampshire Constabulary have given this advice:

  • Always lock your bike
  • Have an alarm and immobiliser fitted – it is worth the investment
  • Lock your bike to something secure. At home you can fit special attachments
  • Don’t leave items such as helmets or other possessions with your bike
  • If possible park your bike in a locked garage out of site

Play time at Europe's only orangutan creche

Primate Care Staff at Monkey World – Ape Rescue Centre in Dorset have welcomed a second baby Sumatran orangutan.

Six-week-old baby girl, Rieke, arrived on friday from Berlin Zoo and was introduced to her new adopted brother, five-month-old Bulu Mata, who came from Budapest Zoo in December after his mother sadly died unexpectedly.

Rieke, a tiny baby girl, was born at Zoo Berlin in Germany on 12 January 2015 Credit: Monkey World

Having gained over 800g since birth, she was strong enough to make the big move to the orangutan crèche in Monkey World, where specialist Primate Care Staff can take over her care.

Rieke will be introduced to her new adopted family of orangutans at Monkey World over the coming months and it is possible that adult female orangutan, Hsiao-quai.

Monkey World is home to the European crèche for orphaned orangutans Credit: Monkey World
The specially designed nursery building has a gymnasium-sized playroom fitted out with climbing frames Credit: Monkey World
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