Commander Les Smith Royal Navy


Les joined the Royal Navy (May 91) as a Direct Entry Seaman Officer, having become disillusioned with civilian employment and wanting a challenging career!  Early appointments included training in HMS MINERVA, HMS GLOUCESTER and HMS CARDIFF.  This was followed by 2 years in HMS ILLUSTRIOUS (95-96), serving with her for 3 operational tours in the Adriatic, and then an exchange appointment to the RAF Neatishead and an instructional appointment at HMS HERON.


More sea time followed with, and a short tour in HMS INVINCIBLE and then as PWO(A) of HMS SUTHERLAND (02-03) before a medical downgrade saw a temporary retirement from sea service.  After a number of short tours he was appointed to HMS YORK then back to HMS ILLUSTRIOUS. 


Two years followed on the Joint Tactical Exercise Planning Staff and after successfully delivering 5 Joint Warriors he deployed to the Falkland Islands before working in the Queen Elizabeth Class programme; in parallel he was also selected for the Executive MSc in Defence Acquisition Management.  Les is now Directing Staff to the Royal Naval Division at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in Shrivenham.


Married to Ali and with two children, they are enjoying their sojourn in the Oxfordshire countryside.  His interests span a broad arena including music (listening and playing rather bad woodwind), history (particular that pertaining the Cold War politico-military environment), nature, and hillwalking, whilst also reinvigorating his more mature (social!) approach to cricket, tennis, squash and generally trying to keep his “classic chassis” tuned.












Captain Digby Nelson Royal Navy


Digby Nelson left the Royal Navy after 35 years as a Logistics branch officer and spent most of his early naval career at sea in frigates and destroyers in the North Atlantic.  Cold War operations were balanced by time ashore, mostly in the Ministry of Defence or Fleet HQ at Northwood. Diverse recent appointments ranged from logistics planning for the Australian Defence Force, to leading the RN pay negotiating team.  His last RN assignment was drawing together a new group to assign all logistics and medical personnel and to plan the long term sustainability of the RN Logistics branch and Royal Naval Medical Services.


After over 5 years as Chief Operating Officer of the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity Group, Digby is now the CEO of a charitable foundation. He lives in Portsmouth with Alex, and a very scruffy dog.  While adult son and daughter are both at various stages of flying the nest, family demands keep him away from DIY, most hobbies and shopping.  He enjoys red wine, and capsizing small boats in the summer months.


He sees his ARNO Ambassador role as an opportunity to highlight both their good works and the advantages of membership; both tangible and altruistic.




Lieutenant Commander Nick Cowlishaw Royal Navy


Officer in Charge - Joint Support Air Tasking Organisation (JSATO)


The RNOC has recently helped my family during a particularly difficult situation, this assistance has given us one less thing to worry about and we will be forever grateful. 


Within the Royal Navy the RNOC and ARNO aren’t as well-known as other charities and associations and I am keen to play my part as ambassador and raise our collective awareness of both organisations.​