Trevor Philpott - Junior Marine to King’s Badge to Lt Col OBE, RM, FRSA
Updated: Aug 20
Trevor Philpott - died unexpectedly but peacefully at home in South Shields on Saturday 8th July 2023.
Trevor grew up in the Tavistock area and joined the Corps at Deal in 1964 as a Junior Recruit.
Awarded the Kings Badge he subsequently successfully applied for a Corps Commission and joined YO 32 in mid-September 1965. As evidenced by the comments received from batch members, Trevor helped us all immensely over those tough early weeks and was metaphorically the Batch ‘Right Marker’ throughout our training. A memory from Canadian batch member Bill Park - “You remember the two mile double early on in our Initial Training? Well, with about 300m left to go, I was done! As I started to “fade” something grabbed my webbing, and virtually lifted me off the roadway and propelled me along! In my ear was that West Country voice of his growling; “we all started, we all finish”. I rather think that his motto drove most of us to “finish”.
Following YO training he served in various operational, training and staff appointments in the UK, mainland Europe, at sea and the Far East. In 1967 he served as a Troop Commander with 45 Commando RM in Aden.
After Part II training he remained at CTCRM as a Recruit Training Officer. This was followed by two years as Primary Forward Air Controller, 18 months as OCRM on HMS Bacchante, two years as Parade Adjutant and OC All Arms Commando Courses at CTCRM, and two years in 42 Cdo RM, serving in Norway, Malta, NI and Fire Fighting in Birmingham. His CO, Lt General Sir Henry Beverley relates “Trevor was L Company Commander, 42 Cdo RM at Forkhill in S Armagh during our tour in 1978. He was a really loyal, totally reliable, and thoroughly conscientious officer.”
In 1979 he was appointed as 2IC of the Jungle Warfare School in Brunei. During that time, he received the Commander British Forces Hong Kong Commendation for a jungle rescue operation on a crashed oil company helicopter. Sadly, there were no survivors. In 1982 he graduated from the Royal Naval Staff College and became the Corps Promotions Officer in DRORM. He then moved to Scotland where he served as OC Base at RM Condor. In 1986 he returned south to HQ, 3 Commando Brigade as the SO2 Plans.
He commanded Commando Training Wing from 1988-1990. Colonel Alan Hooper who was Commandant of CTCRM relates “When he took over the Wing the wastage during recruit training was of considerable concern to the Corps in the face of a demographic trough. At the beginning of his time as the OC, the pass rate was 60%; eighteen months later it increased to 80%. This was an unprecedented success rate for arguably the most arduous infantry training course in the world. He achieved this by adapting a pragmatic approach, by introducing an Induction Course for his instructors and by outstanding leadership, personal example, and persuasion which at times involved him visiting up to 14 different recruit troops training across the south of England and in Wales. In recognition of this outstanding achievement (which was also recognised by the Army) he was awarded the OBE in 1990.”
In 1991 he was appointed 2IC of the Commando Logistic Regiment RM during which time the Regiment deployed to Northern Iraq on Operation Safe Haven to support 3 Cdo Bde RM, the Overseas Development Aid Agency, and the fleeing Kurdish refugees. He ensured a constant flow of supplies from Coypool in Plymouth through to Silopi Plain on the Turkish/Iraq border and onto the Brigade front line in Northern Iraq. His CO, Colonel Andy Higginson relates “he had enormous drive and energy, and commitment of purpose. He dealt admirably with the many challenges of different cultures and backgrounds and had a unique sensitivity for the youth of today. He understood the young person like no other. At the same time, he was highly respected by the large number of SNCOs in the Regiment. As a senior officer and a King’s Badgeman, Trevor engendered a very deep sense of respect within the Regiment. He was incredibly balanced, straightforward, and positive and therefore a delight to work with.”
In 1993 he attended the NATO Defence College in Rome, subsequently serving as the Amphibious Planning Officer on the staff of STRIKFORCESOUTH / CINCSOUTH in Naples Italy. He was always front and centre in most events (professional and social) and did a lot to enhance the Corps reputation.
On retiring from the Royal Marines in August 1997 he founded ‘C-FAR’ a highly successful charitable training company rehabilitating young adult prolific male offenders in the Southwest of England. Trevor’s endeavours to found C-FAR was supported by the late Maj Jonathan Lear OBE RM, whose united foresight was missed by Trevor during the charity’s prime years. The project provided early motivational support, 11-week residential programmes of personal development, academic, social and life skills training and 9-month periods of mentoring back in the community, including support into accommodation, further training, or work. Referrals were made from regional Prisons, Courts, and Probation Trusts. Re-offending by trainees was reduced by approximately 40%. Importantly, those that did re-offend displayed a significant reduction in the level and type of offending. C-FAR was keenly supported by Lord Ramsbotham, Oliver Letwin and Iain Duncan-Smith and was intended to be replicated elsewhere. Sadly, owing to difficulties with short-term cash-flow, the charity went into voluntary liquidation in April 2005.
With two colleagues he then established ‘Life Change UK’ - a not for profit training company, through which they helped others to work more effectively with hard-to-reach groups. He was a member of the Centre for Social Justice Prison Reform Group with former Government Minister Jonathan Aitken. In February 2005 Trevor was awarded a Winston Churchill Memorial Trust Travel Fellowship. His 'journey of a lifetime' as he described it, gave him the opportunity to travel to 5 East European states (Estonia, Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, & Slovenia and then Chile in South America. His objective was to research how socio-economic developments within each country were impacting upon youth crime and to identify what each state was endeavouring to do to reduce re offending. This experience shaped Trevor's relentless quest for giving people opportunity to change, contribute and give back in society. In 2007 he became a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
In 2011, he founded the ‘Veterans Change Partnership’, a Community Interest Company with clear charitable objectives offering innovative and intensive programmes of rehabilitation and family support for military veteran offenders and, most importantly, for those at risk of offending.
Lt General Sir Robert Fulton, who was a Patron, relates “The Partnership and its Support Hub helped to address the problems faced by those former military personnel struggling to make the transition back to civilian life. Although, in relative terms, very small in number, this group often suffer from a wide range of mental health problems, including alcohol and drug misuse, resulting in homelessness, prison or attempted suicide.
Through the co-ordination and provision of safe, community-based alternatives to custody combined with care and supervision, training, personnel development, and assistance with access to employment, VCP was able to make a significant impact to complement government led schemes and inspire wider implementation. Although VCP is no longer active, Trevor’s ideas lived on, and still do, and have been taken up by other similar organisations around the country.”
His eldest son Mark is a retired Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) Major and is now Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Newcastle Premier Health Ltd, an independent Occupational Health and Wellbeing company in the Northeast of England. He is married to Helen. They have two children, Serena and Jack and live in South Shields. Trevor’s daughter, Rachael will always be remembered following her premature passing in June 1977 before the family posting to Brunei.
Trevor’s youngest son, Julian, is married with two children, Veja, and Harry, and relocated to the Lake District in 2021. Julian is a successful entrepreneur, whose company ‘Dragonfly’ delivers custom exhibition and event solutions to some of the world’s leading blue-chip companies, worldwide. Trevor’s energy for positive change and influence lives on through Mark and Julian.
Trevor and Liz divorced after their long marriage prior to his Parkinson’s diagnosis, and he settled in the Northeast to be nearer to his sons in his later years. He stoically and courageously battled on against his diagnosis. He was a regular participant at the South Shields 5km Park Run every Saturday morning, until one too many falls required him to stop.
He battled a recent diagnosis of cancer and survived major surgery and radiotherapy in early 2023 to be given the ‘all clear’ and opportunity to live again.
Never one to be held back, he maintained and discovered new friendships and travel through cruising during his final years despite illness, where he found his Royal Marine sea legs once again, and how to locate the sick bay!
Trevor was a tower of strength, who chose only a few words each day to describe how he felt to his sons, friends, and colleagues. Perhaps limited by the challenge of communicating with Parkinsons, Trevor would simply say ‘I’m fine’ to everyone, every day, to the very end.
He died unexpectedly but peacefully at home in South Shields on Saturday 8th July 2023.
He will be missed terribly by his sons and everyone that knew him during his life.
“From Junior Marine to King’s Badge to Lt Col OBE, RM, FRSA is not a bad epitaph for anyone.”
There was a private family funeral at the end of July and there will be a Memorial Service at CTCRM on Saturday 28th October 2023 at 4pm followed by a reception until 9pm.
All are welcome but please register at firstname.lastname@example.org if planning on attending.
[Shared by kind permission]