They are among the first entertainers to have received operational service medals for working with CSE Forces Entertainment on shows in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Askins, who has taken part in troop shows since 2005, said: ‘I was a bit taken aback because you don’t normally expect to be given a medal for telling jokes, but it’s fantastic - my kids and my wife are over the moon.’
He said of the shows on the front line: ‘The big difference is that there’s no drink and as stand-up comedians we’re used to quite boozy audiences. I remember the first gig I ever did in Iraq, it was two o’clock in the afternoon to 80 paratroopers that had just come in from Al Amarah. It was very strange but fantastic and I remember thinking how cool is this?”
‘I am quite taken by the impact it has when your performance is going down well. Then several months later to have people approach you in the street and say they’ve seen you in Afghanistan or Iraq and they remember your routines.
‘One young marine came up to me in a nightclub and said he’d been in a particularly dark place at the time when he saw the show and it really helped him through it - that means a lot.”
The comics were presented with their gongs by the Chief of the Defence Staff, General Sir David Richards in London.
He said: ‘What CSE do for our people is very important indeed. I wanted to come along to make sure that they genuinely understand that I mean it because they are brave and they raise morale - all things that we ought to honour and applaud. If morale is not high soldiers, sailors and airmen just won’t go the extra mile.’
The medals went to entertainers and CSE staff who accumulated 45 days of service while deployed in war zones.