David Middleton, Colonel, Army Reserve (Territorial Army)
David is a Senior Employer Relationship Manager for the Department for Work and Pensions as well as a Colonel in the Army Reserve.
I wanted to have a broader outlook on life, and go out and see the world without sacrificing my career. I decided to join as a soldier but I soon applied to attend Sandhurst to train as an officer.
I’ve travelled to locations I would never have had the opportunity to visit, with deployments across the globe to the Arctic, the rain forests of Australia, the Middle East, Europe and North America.
I really enjoy sport and adventure and have had a go at lots of activities ranging from scuba diving in the Mediterranean and qualifying as a glider pilot to undertaking arctic survival and ski touring in Norway.
It’s a brilliant way to build a dual career path where you could be doing one type of job in the week but doing something completely different at the weekend.
As an officer I arrange overseas training for my soldiers and this has helped me develop competencies in planning, problem solving, communications and team work.
One of my proudest moments was graduating from the Royal Military Academy at Sandhurst as an army officer. By the time you pass out from Sandhurst you are equipped with the skills to be a leader who people want to follow.
Tim Wates, Colour Sergeant, Army Reserve (Territorial Army)
Tim works on the Smart Meters Programme for the Department of Energy & Climate Change.
Just over 10 years ago I made the decision to do something positive with my spare time – and having an interest in most things military and being fiercely patriotic, I decided to join the London Regiment and London’s only reserve infantry battalion.
When I first joined, my biggest worry was more about what I would have to give up, and how much it would infringe on my social life, but I soon realised that the requirement of a minimum 27 days training, plus attending an annual 2 week training period was not nearly as restrictive as I thought. You get paid for your time in uniform and receive an annual tax-free bonus.
The highlights were being mobilised to serve on a tour of duty in Iraq and two tours to Afghanistan. Another was taking part in the Armed Forces muster parade in Windsor to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee of HM The Queen. I’ve also taken part in two Remembrance Sunday parades. A sombre and thought-provoking occasion, but one that I was honoured to take part in.
My time spent in the Army Reserve has really benefited my main career. It’s given me different perspectives and other ways to look at situations. I have added confidence when speaking in front of large groups of people or in tackling challenging situations. Leading troops on operations in a war zone has definitely enhanced my leadership skills.
So my advice to anyone who wants to give up some of their spare time to do something exciting, to keep fit and to support the defence of the nation – I would say – do it.
Tamar Howard-Pearce, Lieutenant, Royal Naval Reserve
Tamar Howard-Pearce works in Maritime Policy at the Department for Transport and is also a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Reserve, working in Media Operations.
As a student I was in the Bristol University Royal Naval Unit and missed it when I moved to London. Along with a lot of other people, I was attracted to being a Reservist because it’s fun, keeps you fit, you get paid and make lots of friends whilst doing something worthwhile.
I usually train on Tuesday evenings, one weekend every couple of months and once a year do two weeks’ continuous training. The time commitment isn’t a problem for me. My managers have always been very supportive and I’ve never had any problems balancing training with work.
The 3 years I spent doing basic military training gave me a chance to find out about the different specialisms and I’m now a Media Operations Officer. It’s a hands-on role – both in the UK and overseas – involving arranging press trips, escorting journalists, writing press releases and providing media training.
Next week I’m going to Cyprus on an exercise. I don’t know exactly what I’ll be doing yet, but that’s part of the challenge - to see if I can cope with whatever’s thrown at me. It means I have to be adaptable and has taught me to make the most of every situation I find myself in.
Trooper Marcus Cribb, Army Reserve (Territorial Army)
Marcus has been a reservist for 4 years. He is in full-time higher education, studying project management, and works as a Challenger 2 driver in his spare time for the Army. He features in the new Army recruitment TV advert.
Being in the Army has opened up so many opportunities that I wouldn’t have achieved elsewhere. I’ve gained new skills and had the opportunity to travel to Switzerland, all of which has been done in my spare time.
My university has been supportive of my role in the Army alongside my studies and I’m keen to bring all of the skills and qualifications that I’m gaining in the Army to my studies and future career.
Not many people realise that Reserves have all the same opportunities as regular soldiers but we do. I would encourage anyone looking for an exciting challenge and new opportunity outside of their day job to join.
Corporal Jonathan Wheeler, Army Reserve (Territorial Army)
Jonathan, 40, from Hillingdon, London, is a HR Combat Clerk for the Adjutant General’s Corps and an Internal Audit Manager for Xerox. He has been a reservist with 131 Independent Commando Squadron for the past 6 years.
A member of my team at Xerox was a Commando Engineer in the reserves and encouraged me to apply. Basic training was quite a challenge as I wasn’t used to the military atmosphere but the training team did a good job and I made some good friends who I’ve kept to this day.
As well as being a HR Combat Clerk, I’m trained in infantry skills and have taken part in adventure training activities in places such as Bavaria. I’m also a Class 3 driver after 2 weeks of intensive driving training and have completed a Defence Instructional Training Techniques course which shows you how to instruct others, something which has been hugely helpful in my day job.
There isn’t really a typical training session. I may be confirming new recruits, on the rifle range refreshing my training on the SA80 rifle, or taking part in a weekend exercise. It’s an extremely varied role that I feel fortunate to have.
The strength of character I’ve developed from my training has been a huge help to me in other parts of my life and I believe I only obtained my role as a manager at Xerox due to my time as a reservist. It also helped me on non-military activities such as trekking across Scotland and camping in snowstorms.
There have been many highlights during my time in the reserves including 2 weeks in Cyprus helping to create a military base for troops getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan. Training in 38°C was quite full on and it gave me an appreciation of what the troops in Afghanistan must go through. I’ve also taken part in the annual Commando Speed March in Scotland which is hard work but a great experience. I’m lucky that Xerox is very accommodating with my training, and when I have to travel with work, the reserves are equally understanding.
If you’re thinking of applying, I’d say go for it. You will learn so much and it will be useful in every area of your life.
Corporal Stuart Jordan, Army Reserve (Territorial Army)
Stuart, 41, from Welling in Bexley is a Warrant Officer Class 2 in the Royal Engineers and a Senior Engineer for Arup.
Being a reservist is an escape from the daily grind, enabling me to test myself against challenges that aren’t available to most people. Passing the All Arms Commando Course is, without doubt, the greatest highlight of my time in the Reserves. Being part of the local reconstruction process in Lashkar Gah, Afghanistan, comes a very close second.
I started off by visiting different units to see where I felt most at home. The Commando Engineers offered me a balance of engineering and infantry allowing me to enjoy both mental and physical challenges. Being a civil engineer, the practical experience I’ve gained has been invaluable.
If you want to progress through the ranks, training helps you to prepare for the challenges that lie ahead. I train once a week and for about 8 weekends throughout the year. I also attend a 2 week annual training camp.
The training is good and generally progressive and although I’ve found myself stretched, I have felt prepared even for probing minefields south of Basra before the main assault.
In 2006 I was deployed as a sergeant in Afghanistan to manage the plant equipment in Camp Bastion. It took a couple of months of hard work to locate the equipment in various outposts and return it to a serviceable state. I was then re-tasked Lashkar Gah where I worked on reconstruction projects such as sustainable water supplies, new security infrastructure for the Afghan Forces and toilets for schools. We also designed and constructed a 2-storey midwife training facility in the grounds of a regional hospital.
Overall, being a reservist gives me a sense of achievement, has improved my confidence and helps to maintain my fitness levels. If you’re thinking of joining the reserves you should start by talking to anyone you know who is a reservist and go online to see what type of unit might best suit you. It will give you some of the best experiences of your life.