Award for Dales naval officer for support to grieving families

Holly Sadler with Steve Moorhouse.

A Bishopdale naval officer’s support to grieving families has earned her a commendation.

The “care, compassion, empathy and selfless efforts” of Petty Officer Holly Sadler during naval families’ darkest hours earned her the title of Fleet Air Arm sailor of the year.

Rear Admiral Steve Moorhouse, the Royal Navy’s Director of Force Generation, formally presented the framed commendation in recognition of Holly’s exemplary support, in particular, to three bereaved families, whose serving people were assigned to Commando Helicopter Force (CHF).

The 33-year-old, who is originally from Thoralby and attended West Burton Primary School and then the Wensleydale School, spent nearly a decade as an ops room warfare specialist, serving in frigates HMS Montrose and Somerset, then passing on her knowledge to fellow sailors at HMS Collingwood and supporting training in FOST.

In 2021 she changed careers and joined the Royal Navy’s Family and People Support arm, relocating to Yeovilton, in Somerset, as one of two specialist welfare workers on the air base.

Royal Navy welfare specialists provide accessible support services which strengthen and enhance the resilience and resourcefulness of Naval Service personnel, their families and communities.

This can range from providing a safe space and listening ear to shipmates experiencing personal challenges, through to guiding families to help available if they are struggling with specific issues and playing a key role when there’s a death in service.

Tragically, CHF lost three members of the Fleet Air Arm family during Holly’s time at Yeovilton.

Senior officers say phrases such as “professionalism and dedication shone through”, “simply superb”, “brilliant” and “dedication, compassion, and self-sacrifice” pepper her commendation for the title of sailor of the year.

Her citated stated that she routinely spent time away from her own young family to ensure the highest standards of service delivery at times when it was needed most.

It added that Holly demonstrated “exemplary compassion, empathy and selflessness, to ensure the individuals and their families received a level of support far beyond what would ordinarily be expected”.