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Unique medal award for former regional press man

A former Yorkshire Evening Post journalist has received an operational medal for taking part in Op Langar – the conflict in East Timor in 1999.

Tim Zillessen, who worked at the Evening Post for 12 years and is now an Army press officer, was among a UK taskforce of 2 Royal Gurkha Rifles from Brunei sent to the former Indonesian state as part of an international peace keeping team as East Timor sought independence under the auspices of the United Nations Mission in East Timor.

  • Tim proudly shows
    off his medal
  • He is the Ministry of Defence’s only “civvy” to receive such a medal.

    Tim, (44), who has worked at Catterick Garrison HQ for six years, was attached to an information centre run by Australians who had little experience of handling the media and only limited resources to deal with the intense world interest.

    And the International Force East Timor Medal marks his three-month tour of duty.

    Tim said: “As a civilian one feels privileged to support the British Army in times of turmoil around the globe.

    “I am particularly aware of the unique nature of being the only civilian recipient of this particular medal and it will certainly take pride of place.

    “I have many marvellous memories of working alongside the Gurkhas, and to know the British forces were a leading light in achieving independence for East Timor is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.”

    Before joining Catterick Garrison HQ, Tim worked at the Yorkshire Post Group for almost 15 years, beginning his career at the Driffield Times in 1977.

    In 1980 he moved to the Yorkshire Evening Post, where he worked as a general news reporter and, later, its transport reporter.

    He also spent a year on secondment in 1985, as editor of the Preston Leader, which he helped to set up.

    In 1992 he left the Evening Post and worked freelance for a number of years before taking up his current role in 1997.

    Since joining the MoD Tim has successfully completed three operational tours in Bosnia, where he was the civilian media adviser for the Nato Commander during the September 11 crisis.

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