A Year in the Life of a Reservist 2023 to 2024

As Armed Forces and Reserves Day approaches, it’s been a good time to reflect on the opportunities and achievements I’ve had over the last year.

The training year started with a bang, a Sovereign’s parade to present my Battalion with its new Colours. These were presented by our honorary Colonel in Chief (then Crown Prince) His Majesty King Frederik of Denmark. I’d not been part of such an event throughout either my Regular or Reserve Career, so this was a huge honour and a highlight of my time in uniform. Definitely not your average weekend.

Following the Colours parade the remainder of summer consisted of training weekends and outreach events. The first was Armed Forces Day itself where my Company paraded in its local town of Crawley. Armed Forces Day and other outreach events are a great way for us as a Unit to forge links with the local community. Armed Forces Day especially brings together all ages and backgrounds to meet with us, ask questions about what we do, our training, equipment, build understanding and relationships, and hopefully to recruit. It’s also one of the few opportunities we get as serving Soldiers to meet with Veterans and spend time spinning Dits and sharing stories.

In June I was honoured to be asked to represent Allan Webb at SSAFA Reserves Reception, held at Honourable Artillery Company in London. This event supports an amazing charity in SSAFA, to meet other Reservists in very different roles and backgrounds to my own. It was also an opportunity to represent Allan Webb, who not just accept my Reserve career, but actively encourage and understand the mutual benefit that’s possible through training and personal development that comes with it.

Early Autumn was a period to concentrate on Reserve career management and qualifications. I managed to complete the necessary ALDP courses I needed for current and next rank, and also to help with report writing for subordinates.  This tied in with Recruit training, a task that I had been running alongside my Reserve “day job” of the Battalion’s Motor Transport NCO. Training the Recruits is hugely rewarding and something I enjoy greatly. It’s my way of giving back whilst imparting my military experience for the new generation and to give them better preparation for their training and careers.

November was centred around Remembrance Day. Falling on Saturday brought new opportunities to come together, as a Company and community to reflect. The weekend started off with three of us representing the Company at a local Veteran’s group. This was a group brought together by the local church as an informal safe space to meet and chat and share experiences.  From there we moved into the town to collect for the RBL and to observe Remembrance at 11.  On Saturday afternoon we were invited by the local Legion to represent and take part in Crawly Town FC’s own Remembrance service, on the pitch just before their league game.

After the obligatory Christmas celebrations and standown, 2024 started at quite a pace. Everyone who has served in Uniform knows that no plan survives first contact, and so it was for the rest of my training year plans.  Due to deployments and compassionate leave, I was asked to stand in for the MTWO and MTO and cover the whole MT department at very short notice for a fortnight.  Again, Allan Webb were brilliant, and not only allowed me the time away, but paid me as it formed part of my annual Reserve training commitment.

This gave me a great opportunity to blow some cobwebs off some old skills and procedures from my Regular service. I was thrown into the deep end picking up G4 conferences, preparation for the Unit LEA inspection and vehicle availability  planning for the upcoming battalion exercise in Germany. It was a very intense but productive couple of weeks, and I enjoyed being back in uniform for a consolidated period. A few days after I returned back to my Allan Webb role, it was a welcome surprise to receive a handwritten letter from my Commanding Officer thanking me for my efforts and a commendation, which fed into my SJAR report.

I sat down to write this, initially thinking that it had been a quiet year Reserve-wise, and that I’d have to fill it with high octane stories of Equipment Care policies and road traffic procedures. It turned out so much more than that on reflection, and I’m so very grateful to Allan Webb and my family to allow me to continue in uniform.

Armed Forces Day and Reserve Day will allow me and so many serving to have the recognition that they deserve, not only from the public, but their families and employers for being the force multipliers that they are. Working in the Defence Industry with Allan Webb is fantastic as the mutual benefit of Reserve service is recognised and encouraged for the advantages it brings.

Happy Armed Forces Day to you all.

– Dan Hearn

Technical Through Life Support Manager