Ken spent his early childhood years in the Fiji islands. With the outbreak of WW2, the family returned to England. Ken left school just before his 15th birthday to enrol as a cadet with the nautical training ships, HMS “Worcester” and the “Cutty Sark” off Greenhithe in the Thames Estuary, from which he graduated two years later. (Franklin’s expedition to the Northwest Passage had set out from Greenhithe in 1845 and it was another HMS “Worcester” alumnus, Lt. “Birdie” Bowers, who later succumbed with Scott of the Antarctic during their fateful return from the South Pole in 1912.)
Following a brief career first as an Apprentice Deck Officer with P & O, then as an Instructor with the “Outward Bound Sea School”, Ken returned to his studies, graduating from the University of Liverpool Medical School in 1962. He was commissioned in the Royal Army Medical Corps and completed postgraduate studies in tropical medicine. During the period 1964-1967, having successfully passed the selection course for 22 Special Air Service Regiment (SAS), Ken qualified as a military parachutist and compressed air diver. After undertaking further SAS training he deployed on four operational tours in the jungles of South East Asia and the South Arabian desert (now Yemen).
It was from the SAS that he was invited to join “The British Trans Arctic Expedition”. This expedition successfully completed the first crossing of the surface of the Arctic Ocean, traveling 6,000 km from Alaska to Spitzbergen via the North Pole by dogsled with logistic support from 435 Squadron RCAF, the US Naval Arctic Research Laboratory and the Royal Navy. The 476 day journey was featured in contemporary editions of the Guinness Book of World Records. All four members of the crossing party were elected Fellows of the Royal Geographical Society (FRGS). In 1970 the four men were each awarded the Polar Medal in an investiture held by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother at Buckingham Palace, the citation for which reads:
“Conferred upon those who took an active part in an expedition which made notable advances in the exploration of Polar Regions and underwent the hazards and rigours of severe conditions in excess of 12 months.”
Following specialist training and accreditation in both Public Health and Occupational Medicine , Ken again volunteered for active duty, serving as a Regimental Medical Officer during a time of intense urban conflict, confronting armed elements of the IRA in the “no go” areas of Londonderry. During a four month operational tour, in addition to retrieving victims of assassination and booby traps, he undertook a total of sixteen rescue missions of both civilian and military victims of riot, sniper fire, ambush and improvised explosive devices and was awarded a “Mention in Despatches” in the Operational Gallantry List for Northern Ireland:
“I am charged to record Her Majesty’s high appreciation.”
(Signed: Secretary of State for Defence)
Ken’s twelve year military career with the British Army culminated with his appointment as Senior Specialist in Public Health and Occupational Medicine at Army Headquarters, Northern Ireland with a deployed strength of 18,000 troops. It had become the longest campaign in the history of the British Army.
Ken and his bride, Dawn, who had served for ten years with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association in London, New York and Amsterdam, came to Canada in 1975. Sadly, Dawn passed away in 2004. Her life had become an inspiration for her young family over a number of years during which she displayed a spirited response to what proved to be a terminal illness.
In 1993 the Governor General on behalf of the Queen of Canada, sanctioned Ken’s promotion to the rank of Commander in the Order of St John (CStJ) in recognition of volunteer services for the Order. And in 2010 Ken was awarded the distinction of Emeritus Status by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario: “conferred in recognition of a record of exemplary service spanning more than twenty five years”, a considerable part of which had been spent in the underserviced areas of central and northern Ontario and Nunavut.
In September 2010, upon the recommendation of the Chief of the Defence Staff, the Minister of National Defence approved Ken’s appointment as the first Honorary Colonel of the Canadian Forces Health Services Training Centre.