Territorial Army personnel across the country will turn up for work today in their military clothing as part of Uniform to Work Day, organised as part of the build-up to Armed Forces Day on June 30.
Uniform to Work Day celebrates the role of the Reserves in all three Services and shows the public the Armed Forces are made up of people from all sections of the community.
Physiotherapist and Army Reservist Captain Roger Weddell, aged 34, who works for South Warwickshire NHS Foundation Trust, arrived at The Ellen Badger Hospital resplendent in his Army uniform where he is the Team Lead Physiotherapist.
Roger’s primary role is in musculoskeletal out-patients but he also helps with cover for the rehabilitation ward.
A member of the Territorial Army (TA) for 11 years, his military path started via University at University Officer Training Corps Oxford in the Royal Artillery Troop then commissioning into the TA in 2003 and joining 202 Field Hospital, based in King’s Heath, Birmingham.
The role has so far seen him deployed to Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2009.
Roger said: “I had always thought of a career in the Armed Forces but, sadly, some old injuries from sports prevented me from pursuing this as a full time career. On graduating as a physiotherapist however, the option for a role within the Reserves presented itself.
“Having spent seven years as a Special Constable within Warwickshire Constabulary, I was looking for a further challenge and the opportunity to use my skills on operations, supporting the boys and girls on the front line, was a big enticement.
“My experiences within the TA have helped further develop my clinical career offering opportunities that you wouldn’t always see within the NHS. It has also helped to ensure I remain organised and level headed in times of stress and tough conditions.”
Nurse Major Hilary Ellis, 49, from Newport, Shropshire, will be looking after patients at Oakengates Medical Practice dressed in her uniform.
A member of 202 Field Hospital, based in Kings Heath, Birmingham, Major Ellis has been in the TA for 11 years during which time she has deployed on operational tours to Iraq in 2003 and Afghanistan in 2009.
She said: “I was originally recruited into the TA by a colleague who was a member of the Field Hospital at the time when we both worked together as health visitors in Wolverhampton.
“I don’t have any military connections in my family and at the time I was actually thinking of joining the Special Constabulary, but I went along and had a chat with my colleague at a talk she was giving.
"After she gave the talk she explained how the TA could help me maintain my clinical skills and it all just escalated from there really and two years later I was in Iraq.”
"ethos of the Army"
A Birmingham service manager who helps prisoners recover from alcohol addiction has swapped her civvies for combat gear.
Corporal Nicki King, aged 35, joins her colleagues in the A-Team, Birmingham's Primary Care, Alcohol and Healthy Living Service, based in Bourneville kitted out as a soldier.
Nicki, who joined the Army Cadets aged 13, while living in Kent, later joined the Territorial Army (TA) in Ipswich from 1999 to 2002 but was forced to give it up because of shift patterns while working as a prison officer in Wiltshire.
But after becoming a drug worker in prison, she rejoined seven years ago and now combines her day job with an administration role for King’s Heath-based 202 Field Hospital.
She said: “One of the main attributes I have gained from being in the TA is increased leadership skills. I also really enjoy the adventurous side of it, the challenge and the ethos of the Army.”
Thousands more Reservists across the country – from gardeners to bankers – will hang up their usual work clothes and proudly don their service uniforms today in recognition of role played by the TA.
Since 2003 there have been more than 27,000 mobilisations from the Navy, Army and Air Force where Reservists have served alongside their regular counterparts on operations both overseas and in the United Kingdom.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: “Reservists are a vital part of our Armed Forces – some 700 of them are currently deployed in Afghanistan. Uniform to Work Day highlights their importance, not only providing valuable support on front line operations but in wider society too.”