Matthew ‘Ollie’ Ollerton, 44, joined the Royal Marines in 1990 aged 18, and his first tour was to Northern Ireland. He says: “I thought it would all be about the uniform and impressing the chicks. But on my first night, a 500lb car bomb went off at an Army checkpoint.
“There was a helmet on the floor and my sergeant walked over, kicked it and said, ‘We need to see if there are any more of these’. There was a head inside the helmet. That’s when I realised it wasn’t a game.” The following year Ollie joined Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, evacuating Kurds from villages that had been torn apart in brutal massacres.
He says: “It was shocking and traumatic. There were all sorts of terrible things — body parts and burned homes. There are a lot of things I can’t talk about because I’ve blocked them out.” In 1994 Ollie joined the Special Boat Service — the naval equivalent of the SAS — after passing the selection process while ignoring a broken ankle.
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“Just a quick note to say many thanks to you and to Ollie for helping us out with last night’s Business Awards. Ollie was great and very well received. I bought him a large glass of red afterwards and then didn’t see him again as he was very popular with those who’d attended! I’ll assume he survived! Cheers and thanks again.” – Neil Hodgkinson, Hull Daily Mail