A MILITARY police officer who dedicated his life to the army has been made a Member of the British Empire by the Queen weeks after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.
Barry Grass, 49, visited Buckingham Palace with his family to receive the award alongside the likes of legendary comedian Ronnie Corbett as part of the Queen’s New Year Honours.
The father-of-four, who is from St Leonards, was given the award for his services in fighting computer crime within the British Army and Navy.
He said: “It was one of the proudest days of my life – a day I will never forget.”
Barry’s long and distinguished career started when he joined the Army in 1979. He was sent to the Junior Leaders Regiment Cadets at Bovington Camp in Dorset. He then went to the Royal Military Police Training Centre in Chichester.
After completing training he was based at Aldershot where he served in the Royal Military Police Mounted Troop conducting ceremonial and general police duties.
But in 1984 he decided to leave and come back home.
Barry took up a job with his dad in his family taxi firm Taybar Taxis and was a familiar sight driving around the town for five years.
But he realised he had taken a wrong turn and after six years behind the wheel he applied to go back into the Army.
In 1990 he returned to the Military Police and went on to serve in Germany, Bosnia, Kosovo, Northern Ireland and Cyprus.
In 1994 he joined the Special Investigation Branch of the Military Police and rose to Warrant Officer Class Two.
Since 2003 he has been running the Service Police Hi-Tech Crime Team based in Fareham, Hampshire.
He worked on stamping out fraud, corruption and illegal activity online.
Late last summer he was on a motorbike tour of Wales when he complained of a sore shoulder.
He went to see the doctor and was then referred to hospital. Doctors diagnosed pneumonia but they carried out a biopsy and in November discovered non-small cell lung cancer.
Barry, who lives in Lee-on-the-Solent near Portsmouth, is currently on sick leave. He has undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy but is now being cared for at the Rowans Hospice in Portsmouth.
His brother Dave Grass, who lives in Hollington, said: “He was absolutely euphoric about his award. It was one of the proudest moments of his life along with getting married and having his children.
“It has just been a really bitter sweet affair. One minute he is being told he has cancer and the next he is being made a MBE.
“But he is a real fighter and is in the best of care.
“He has been a fantastic servant to his country and the Army and we are all very proud of him.”
*Barry’s nieces Nathalie Cullen, 23, and Rachel Grass, 20, will be running the Hastings Half Marathon on March 25.
They are raising money for their uncle and his care. Anyone who wants to sponsor them can call 07979 0910002 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.