AN ARMY officer based in Tidworth has been awarded a gong for his extensive military service.

Major Nicholas Payne, 62, has received a Certificate of Meritorious Service for 44 years of continuous military service.

The presentation by Her Majesty The Queen’s Wiltshire representative, Sarah Troughton, was held at Devizes Town Hall and acknowledged the major’s length of service to his country.

The Royal Military Policeman from Plymouth who enlisted into the Territorial Army in 1974 was astonished at his award.

He said: “I was surprised, and of course very proud at my accolade, and to have my family there at the presentation made it even more special.”

Maj Payne, who is serving with Headquarters South West in Tidworth, joined the army aged 18 as a driver in the Royal Corps of Transport, stationed at 232 Squadron in Plymouth, and he was commissioned as an officer four years later.

He added: “My aspiration had always been to be an officer. I didn’t expect to still be serving after the age of 48, so every year since has been a huge bonus, and because of that I’ve loved it even more.”

His military service with the Army Reserves has seen him deployed on operations and homeland resilience tasks such as the Gloucester and Somerset floods, support to the London Olympics and mobilised on Operation Temperer, the government-led assistance to police officers following a major terrorist attack.

Twelve of his 44 years have been spent with the Army Cadet Force and for the last eight years he has been involved as a hospital liaison officer on Exercise Wyvern Tor, an outward bound challenge for young people – the Ten Tors challenge.

He added: “I’ve worked with so many nice people; my current job is so diverse, and has offered me so many interesting opportunities. I’ve met and been involved with the wider civilian community and ultimately we serve them.”

Nick’s civilian job is with UK Border Force, he attended Plymouth’s College of Further Education and is married to Wendy, their daughter Katie has followed her father into the military serving as an Officer Cadet with Bristol University Air Squadron.