The second in a new mini-series looking at the life behind the fence of one of the largest helicopter bases in Europe, which calls Helston its home.

This week: Meet the the Cornishman making history.

Warrant Officer first class Mark ‘Jan’ Nicholas made history at RNAS Culdrose in June 2018 when he became the first Royal Marine ever to be appointed base warrant officer (BWO) of the air station.

In this role WO1 Nicholas is responsible for keeping those in command informed of the welfare, morale and development of all personnel on base; an instrumental role in the operational capabilities of RNAS Culdrose.

His appointment to BWO came after a long and varied service as a Royal Marine Commando, which he began in 1992 when he first served with 42 Commando. He later served in multiple units with 3 Commando, completing operational service in locations including Northern Ireland, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Though he has travelled the world throughout his military career, WO1 Nicholas is a Cornishman through and through. Born in Redruth in 1969, Mark spent the duration of his childhood in Cornwall, attending Bodmin Comprehensive School.

This is The West Country:

Warrant Officer first class Mark ‘Jan’ Nicholas in action at Culdrose

Before taking on the mantle of BWO he was appointed logistics officer supply chain of W16 at RNAS Culdrose - making him the first logistics warrant officer as well as first Royal Marine to ever be appointed to the role at Culdrose.

As such, you may think WO1 Nicholas would be keen to buck tradition. However, Mark firmly believes that such naval traditions are vital to a new generation of sailors entering a constantly evolving military landscape.

He is keen to communicate this appreciation of naval history to personnel through his role, saying: “I will, during my tenure, remind personnel of the traditions and history of the Royal Navy, so that we too can be proud of our own achievements.”

A keen sportsman in his spare time, WO1 Nicholas enjoys a variety of leisure activities. Most notable of these is hockey, where he has not only represented the Royal Marines and Royal Navy Combined Service, but has also represented Cornwall at a junior and senior level.

While it is a ground-breaking appointment, WO1 Nicholas is not daunted by the weight of his role; his respect for naval traditions set him in good stead for the position.

He said: “It is an honour and a privilege to be the BWO of RNAS Culdrose, and to be part of the crucial outputs that the Royal Navy personnel at RNAS Culdrose achieve.”