The social secretary of the City of Edinburgh branch of the Royal Naval Association (RNA) has been recognised for her work with Naval veterans with a British Empire Medal (BEM) in the 2021 New Year Honours list.
Shipmate Karen Elliot has been described by senior officers in the RNA as a powerhouse of energy and a model of dedication – but Karen has not confined her efforts to the RNA alone.
Karen has been an active member of the branch since she retired from the Royal Navy in 1989, having served almost five years as a Wren radar specialist.
Although her Naval career was brief, Karen said she “gained so much from my short Service, which is why I volunteer now. I love what I do and I do what I love – I’m very privileged.”
Karen has a day job – she is the Business Compliance and Contracts Manager for a private firm, Singula Decisions Ltd, and she also has family commitments.
“I am a wife to my soulmate Stephen – we met at the age of 14! – a mum (to Stephanie, 31, and Victoria, 30 in March) and Nan (to Eva, 7, and Harrison, 6),” said Karen.
That hasn’t prevented her from stepping up her contribution to veterans causes and wider society over the past five years, taking on the role of Scottish Area Secretary of the RNA, volunteering much of her time for the benefit of others.
And in her spare time? What spare time, you might ask…
Well, Karen is also Chair of the Edinburgh and District branch of the Association of Wrens (AOW) and a trustee of that organisation...
And Social Secretary of both the RNA City of Edinburgh Branch and the Royal British Legion Scotland Livingston branch...
And founder, Secretary and Treasurer of the West Lothian Armed Forces Day (a Scottish Charitable Organisation)...
And a Congregational Board Member and Treasurer of her church, West Kirk of Calder.
On top of all that, Karen tirelessly represents both the RNA and the AOW in Scotland on several veterans organisations, including in recent times the WW100 Scotland Commemoration, the Naval Regional Forum and the Cross-Party Veterans Forum.
She also serves on the Edinburgh and East of Scotland Veterans Group, influencing and promoting policy between inter-Service organisations, allowing the RNA to become much more involved in tri-Service life in Scotland.
Karen’s work for veterans ranges from engaging with politicians and regional government to arranging social events and one-to-one support.
Her extensive contacts across a number of groups means that events can be organised where the numbers from individual Service charities might not be enough to justify the event taking place.
Karen was one of the leading lights in the organisation of the RNA National Conference in Perth in 2017.
She was deeply involved in the detailed planning and execution of all aspects of the successful event – and that success was all the more easy to replicate in following years because Karen, with her studious attention to detail, developed a template covering the multitude of items and considerations that need to be addressed, and this template has since been adopted by RNA Central Office as their blueprint for National Conference organisation.