Medals for comedy

Stand-ups honoured for entertaining troops

Comics Barry Castagnola, Mark Walker and Sean Collins have been awarded medals for entertaining frontline troops.

The trio were presented with operational service medals for performing for British forces in Iraq and Afghanistan by chief of joint operations, Lt Gen David Capewell.

At a ceremony in the Victory Services Club in London, he told the recipients: ‘Don't underestimate the work you do entertaining service personnel in operational areas, the difference you make and the boost to morale remains long after you have left.’

Castagnola, who has been to Afghanistan six times, said: ‘It’s humbling to receive these medals because ultimately we’re only going a couple of weeks at a time.

‘It’s great to go out there and feel like people are really appreciating the entertainment and it’s a fascinating experience for us too.”’

He recalled one show at a forward operating base in Afghanistan.

‘I was doing a gig for some Royal Marines and half way through the CO interrupted and asked the mortar teams to take up fire positions outside,’ he said. ‘They fired mortars while I was still on stage… I panicked when the first one went off as I jumped out of my skin – they found that absolutely hilarious.’

And Canadian Collins, who now lives in the traditional naval town of Gosport, has also been out about half a dozen town.

He has said: ‘It’s a brutal environment and as much as I might think it’s a pretty horrible place to be, I’m only an entertainer doing a show and then getting to lie in a bunk. The soldiers are putting on their equipment, going out to fight and some of them aren’t coming back. That’s pretty sobering.’

Other medals went to Combined Services Entertainment staff who help put on the gigs, as well as two dancers who have been to the front line. Stand-ups Phil Butler, John Fothergill and Andy Askins received the same award last year.

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Published: 2 Aug 2013

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Past Shows

Edinburgh Fringe 2003

Mark Walker: One Man and his Gob

Edinburgh Fringe 2006

Marc Lucero: Fear of Ironing

Edinburgh Fringe 2009

Mark Walker: Scorpio


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