My journey to the Army Reserve, and the Military as whole, started over 20 years ago. I was a qualified mechanic, from a very sleepy rural Suffolk village, longing to escape for some adventure, (careful what you wish for!).
Having had a keen interest in the military, friends already serving, and bored, I decided to take the step into the Army Careers office. Buoyed by that first visit, at the age of 21 I enlisted into the Regular Army with the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers as Armoured Vehicle mechanic.
Just over 2 years later from that day, I was part of the initial Troop surge into Kuwait in preparation for the move into Iraq on Op Telic, the largest British deployment since WWII, starting one the biggest adventures I could have wanted (careful what you wish for!).
With 6 years of service, plying my trade on deployments and exercises in 14 countries on 5 continents and more than enough (so I thought) experiences and adventure, I made the decision to settle and leave the Regular Army.
As many Service leavers know, the Military bug doesn’t leave you, and I soon found myself working for a Defence contractor within Equipment Support alongside the Army and other NATO militaries. That itch didn’t quite get scratched by the job, and after a few years of comfortable civilian living, I approached my local Army Reserve unit, which helpfully was R.E.M.E.
It was an easy transition, and soon found myself picking up where I’d left off with the Regulars, but with the flexibility and choices I could now make as a Reservist. Within 6 weeks of joining the Reserves, I spent a month in the main workshop at RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. An Operational Tour to Afghanistan soon followed, along with mentoring junior tradespeople within the unit.
In 2017 I reached a crossroads when my R.E.M.E. unit was disbanded and re-rolled as Infantry with The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment. Initially the old dog in me was reluctant to learn new tricks, (and to keep up with 20-year-olds), but now being 10 years into Reserve service, it’s still got me interested, challenged, and offering new opportunities, more so than Regular service in many aspects.
For the last 2 years I’ve been working as a Mentor within the Battalion Recruit mentoring team. This a hugely rewarding role, where I get to use my experience to introduce, train and develop new recruits into Army life, and to prepare them for their basic training. My new Unit started almost from scratch with a handful of soldiers. We now stand around 100, many of whom I’ve had the privilege to introduce to Army life and train. This is an enormously fulfilling role which provides me a great deal of pride.
This year, with my R.E.M.E background, I’ve also been asked to become my Company’s Motor Transport NCO. Alongside my mentoring role, this allows me to use many past qualifications and experiences in a way to support the unit as it would on exercise and deployment. My 2-week annual camp was spent as a mix of working with the full-time team with the M.T. section, and hooning around East Yorkshire on a Quad bike instructors’ course, (and being paid for it!). This current training year, I’m already lined up for further courses to assist in my job and career progression.
I first became aware of Allan Webb whilst I was working in Equipment Support for a Defence vehicle manufacturer. The close links between the role that I had, and the work that Allan Webb does, inevitably meant that I got exposure to, and great feedback on Allan Webb from serving friends and colleagues, some of whom worked for the company. This led to an interview with Allan Webb’s PDP team, and despite the usual nerves, with everyone in the interview panel being ex-Forces, I quickly felt at ease. I felt that they understood and valued both my military and commercial experiences and skills, namely in equipment support and adaptability. What I took most from the interview was that everyone in Allan Webb, not only understood the need to ultimately support the MoD and end users, but that it was paramount to their ethos. Soon after joining Allan Webb, my line manager took time with me to identify future training needs in order to expand my experience and the roles within DE&S that I could cover.
Allan Webb’s Gold Reservist Employer Recognition scheme award was a big factor in wanting to join the company. To know that my Reserve service, would not only be accepted, but actively encouraged with the understanding that Reserve service can be a two-way street, bringing in extra experience and qualifications, with an allowance of paid time to carry out training, is hugely encouraging, and a credit to the company. I’ve also been asked to be part of Allan Webb’s Armed Forces Champions team, where my views and experience can contribute to company policy on how to best employ future veterans and Reservists.