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Reservists play a key role

Published24th June 2020

All of us have been – and still are – affected by the Coronavirus pandemic. Many have been redeployed or furloughed and are doing their best to cope with very strange times.

But some Ipswich Borough Council employees have been called up to help in a different way.

These are our Armed Forces Reserves, some of whom are now on active service, undertaking a number of duties and supporting the civilian authorities as they tackle the virus.

Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, balancing their civilian life with a military career to ensure that should their country require them, they would be ready to serve as part of the military. The Reserve Forces make up approximately one sixth of our Armed Forces.

Here at Ipswich Borough Council, two of our Reserves, Kyle and Chris, are currently on active duty.

Reserves Day is part of the week-long Armed Forces Day celebrations and while we cannot gather to applaud the people who give up their time in service to this country we can still remember their dedication.

The Armed Forces Day flag will be proudly flying over the Town Hall all next week to honour the work – and sacrifice – of every member of the Armed Services.

Now, let’s hear from Kyle and Chris:

Kyle's story:

Hi, I'm Kyle I work as an HGV driver for Waste & Cleansing and have been here for a little over six years.

In my spare time I serve as an Army Reservist. I've been serving for over nine years now and hold the rank the of corporal.

I've always had an interest in the armed forces as I come from a heavily military family. My father, both grandfathers and all my uncles have served in the British Army and one of my cousins served in the RAF.

Since joining, I have completed several mobilisations, working closely with my regular counter parts. These stretch from working as a vehicle searcher at the Olympics, to driving in CLPs (combat logistic patrols) in Afghanistan and even working for the UN in Cyprus on peace keeping operations. I've also taken part in a lot of exercises which has seen me travel to places such as Cyprus and Germany.

Then there are the courses and opportunities the Army Reserve has given. When I joined I only held my car license - I now hold licenses and qualifications to drive class 2 and 1 vehicles and forklifts. I've also attended leadership courses and a physical training instructors’ course that sees me leading groups of men and women on gym sessions, be that circuit lessons, weighted marches or group runs. As a physical training instructor, it is my job to not just lead these lessons but also teach correct technique's, encourage physical development and help train people to meet the army's standards of physical needs.

I'm currently serving on Op Rescript. This is the operation the Army is undertaking in support of the Government’s response to the current pandemic. I'm part of a 12-person team were we operate an MTU (mobile testing unit). The team travels to different places and carries out testing for those that need it. This is a varied task, and we have to be adaptable to changing circumstances. I am the Second-in-Command of this team and it is my responsibility to assist the commander in charge of the team and ensure procedures are adhered to as well as correct PPE is used at all times.

Although different from my previous deployments, this is still a crucial part of getting the country back on its feet. For me, this has been a chance to use the leadership qualities the Army has taught me and a highlight is integrating with regular soldiers once again.

All in all being part of 202 squadron (Ipswich) coming under 158 regiment royal logistic corps, has given me some great opportunities I would not of been part of if it wasn't for the army.

All this because I walked into the army reserve centre on Yarmouth Road one Tuesday!

Chris's story:

Hi, I'm Chris, I work as a class 2 refuse driver and have worked in this department for just over one year now.

Aside my civilian job, I also serve as a soldier in the Army Reserves with 158 Transport Regiment 202 Squadron based in Ipswich and have been serving for nearly nine years.

I hold the rank of Lance Corporal. I have always had a keen interest in the Army so decided to go ahead and pursue this achievement. 

Since joining the Army Reserves, I have gained my C1, C, C1E and C+E category licenses and undertaken numerous training exercises both in this country and overseas, some being Germany, Cyprus, Denmark. Some of these training exercises can be quite demanding and arduous, both physically and mentally, but I enjoy the camaraderie and challenges the Army has to offer. 

I am currently mobilised on Operation Rescript in response to assist and support the UK’s efforts to combat the COVID 19 outbreak. I am part of a team forming a mobile testing unit where the issuing of the test kits, the supervising of the "clients" taking the tests and collection of the tests are undertaken.