And dad-of-two Martin Carrigan has been honoured by the Duke of Edinburgh after being one of the last British servicemen to leave the war torn country.

Martin, of South Beach Troon, was dramatically called away from his NHS job in March and flown in a mission to Kandahar as troops prepared to exit for good.

He said: “It was a bit surreal to be suddenly called up. I was deployed as a gunner in the reserves. When I first arrived it was intimidating as you were in the middle of a battlefield but I quickly got into a routine and ended up enjoying it. We were the last British troops to leave Afghanistan. We flew out in a big Boeing C17 as I was actually worried we would be a target for a strike.” The 47-year-old works in an NHS Ayrshire and Arran team who help children in care and those in the child protection register.

He was thrilled to receive his Afghanistan medal from Prince Philip in Edinburgh earlier this month.

His royal encounter is one of three he has enjoyed since joining the military.

Prince Harry turned up at his 1 Squadron base to say hello for remembrance day in November — which Martin vividly remembers.

He said: “In the space of eight months I have met three Royals. Meeting Harry was a highlight. We were guarding the base when he appeared. I said: ‘Hello Sir.’ He also came face to face with the Queen who was along with her husband at the recent medal presentation.

Martin said: “It was a wonderful day. I felt quite emotional as well as proud. Having the Royals there was fabulous — what an experience.” Before heading to Afghanistan in July, Martin spent a few months training at an RAF base in Warrington.

He added: “I would recommend signing up anybody. It keeps you fit and healthy and is a great experience.”