Category Archives: community

Lord Lieutenant of Kent’s Inter-Schools Challenge


This year’s Lord Lieutenant’s Inter-Schools Challenge has been won by a team from Rainham Mark Grammar, which defeated teams representing seven other schools from throughout Medway on Tuesday, 12th July in a gruelling day of challenging activities designed to develop team spirit, test courage and stamina, build communication and teamwork skills.

DSC_0066

Lead organiser Challenger Troop CIC, along with the Royal School of Military Engineers (1 RSME Regiment), facilitated a range of command and communication-based activities for 10 teams of 10 KS4 students from the eight participating schools at the event, the fourth of its kind, which took place at Brompton Barracks, Gillingham ME7 5DQ.  Each team had 10 challenges to complete in a set time and were scored on the result. Assessment was based on overall team performance; effort, participation, team-member engagement, leadership, communication, teamwork and completion of the task in the time allocated were all taken into consideration.

Dr Bhargawa Vasudaven, representing Lord Lieutenant of Kent, Viscount De L’Isle, presented a trophy to the winning team from the Rainham Mark Grammar School. Mayor of Medway, Cllr Stuart Tranter presented awards for the runner-up, Team One from Gravesend Grammar School. In addition, a ceremonial plaque was presented by 1 RSME to Team Two from the Howard School for completing their Tower of Hanoi Challenge in the fastest time and awards for the Most Outstanding Individual Team-Member’s Contribution to the Team and Task were presented by The High Sheriff of Kent, Mrs Kathrin Smallwood.

Jo Blackwell, Director of Operations for Challenger Troop, said “This event is very much in the spirit of the Armed Forces Community Covenant, where local communities come together to support the Armed Forces community and encourage activities which help to integrate this into local life. As a provider of uniformed youth leadership and engagement programmes, we see on a daily basis how the values and standards of the Armed Forces can help and support disengaged young people in our community. Today we have seen some outstanding examples of leadership, camaraderie and teamwork.”

The event will take place next year around the second week in July and anyone who would like to support the event or would like more information should contact simon.dean@challengertroop.org

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From Strength To Strength


Veteran-Mark Smith

I served 10 years with the 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards, but whilst overseas in 2011, I was shot several times, resulting in the loss of my right leg and part of my right shoulder.
I was subsequently medically discharged in 2013, this was after 10 weeks in Hospital, over 20 operations and being resuscitated six times! Due to being nil by mouth fairly often, I lost over 20kg during my time in Hospital and after seeing myself deteriorate every day that I looked in the mirror, I vowed I’d never look that ill again.

Myself on stage

Myself on stage

Fast forward to the present day and I kept my promise to myself-Since November 2014 I have been competing as a Disability Bodybuilder and it has been amazing so far. I won my first competition last November, then received an invite to compete in America, which I took up and in March, competed and won in Texas and best of all, I was invited back on stage to pose with current 4 times Mr Olympia, Phil Heath! Since returning, I have competed in an able bodied Novice class, where I took Best up and coming bodybuilder and now have 3 competitions in the next 3 weekends.
When I left the Forces, I went through what most lads go through-Missing being a Squaddie, but being stubborn, I stuck it out and getting involved in this sport has been my own anti-depressant.

Phil Heath and I

Phil Heath and I

I have appeared on various radio stations, national newspapers, TV documentaries and been signed to a management company, as well as becoming a sponsored athlete and I’ve even been invited to be involved in this years Body Power Expo at the NEC. The interest in myself and the potential have been overwhelming and I’m keen to share this with other veterans who have been injured, who perhaps aren’t aware that there is a Disability Bodybuilding class. I’m convinced it’s the perfect transition for Squaddies-The routine, discipline and physical nature mean the strengths of coming from a military background make it feel similar, which I think has helped me overcome missing being a Soldier.

I have my own bodybuilding page and I’d be more than happy to talk with any lads interested in finding out more. It would be a very proud moment to step on stage with a veteran that I have inspired to become a bodybuilder.

For more information you can visit
https://www.facebook.com/MarksmithBB

Army Reserves Prepare for the Commonwealth Games


Mobilised for the Commonwealth Games

More than 2,000 military personnel from all 3 services, including hundreds of Reserves, have been tasked to assist with venue security as well as undertaking a number of ceremonial roles. We intend to deliver to you a weekly Blog from a Reservists perspective…..

2014 Commonwealth Games Logo

2014 Commonwealth Games Logo

Lieutenant General Sir Nicholas Carter, the Standing Joint Commander, said:

The armed forces have always provided support to the civilian authorities in the UK whenever it is needed. We are ready to assist in whatever contingencies may arise and have done so during the 2012 Olympics and more recently during the floods crisis. We are extremely proud to be able to provide support to the Glasgow Commonwealth Games as part of a task that reflects the flexibility, capability and adaptability of our armed forces. As part of our shared commitment to ensure a safe and secure Games, the UK government will fully fund this military contribution, with no costs being incurred by Police Scotland.

RTMC Chilwell

RTMC Chilwell

All personnel mobilising for the Commonwealth Games made their way to RTMC Chilwell to start the mobilisation process on 10th July 2014 – At 0800hrs the mobilisation begins with briefings on the task ahead and the mobilisation process:,J1 administration and a medical.  All personnel from 103 Bn REME and 3 PWRR successfully passed. 11th July 2014 – All personnel move to Grantham to commence the training package. 12th July 2014 – After a few short briefings all troops were split into small groups and the SIA (Security Industry Authority) training began .

Security Industry Authority Certificate

Security Industry Authority Certificate

Perseus a civilian security company took the lead role in the training, they trained us in “Working in the private security industry” and “Managing conflict and challenging behaviour” both of which were to City & Guilds level 2 standards and consisted of 4 theory exams, 1 theory assessment and a physical assessment. 15th July 2014 – After a long and tiring few days of training, most of the mobilised personnel head off to Grantham town centre for a well-earned and deserved social evening. 16th July 2014 – Currently waiting to move to Glasgow, moral is high and everyone is looking forward to the challenge ahead. The mobilised personnel from 103 Bn REME and 3 PWRR wish to thank all the staff from RTMC Chilwell, Grantham and Perseus for all their kind help and advice during the mobilisation process and training package.

LCpl Arkwright, 103 Bn REME

 

Exercise ASKARI STORM 5


3 PWRR In Kenya

Following a two year career break from the Army Reserve (AR) I returned to 3 PWRR in Feb 2013. Although I was unable to deploy on Op TOSCA with the Battalion (Bn) I was able to complete an intensive training year which culminated in leading a AR Platoon (Pl) in an Integration Pilot Exercise with 1 R ANGLIAN.

As part of the Army 2020 programme 3 PWRR are to be ‘Paired’ with 1 R ANGLIAN and our initial integration began with a visit by OC, A Coy, 1 R ANGLIAN to our Annual Training Event (ATE) in Sennybridge last summer. It was during this visit that it became clear that we would be required to provide a Pl, trained to Live Fire (LF) Section Attack, to attend the ‘VIKING Battlegroup’ Ex ASKARI STORM 5 in Kenya. This was to occur during January and February 2014. In Army Reserve terms the six months lead time given was not a lot and due to heavy Bn commitments including our Annual Training Exercise in June, training could not start in earnest until mid October last year.

On patrol in Kenya

On patrol in Kenya

Our initial training began with a Transition to Live Firing (TTLF) / Selection weekend followed by a week of LF in Warcop with A Coy, 1 R ANGLIAN during mid November and a combined exercise at the end of that month (this was a mix of Fighting in Built Up Areas (FIBUA) and Fighting in Woods and Forests (FIWAF) tactics). I was then invited to 1 R ANGLIAN CAST Ex in Catterick in December; thus allowing a further chance to integrate with both Bn and Company (Coy) Command teams. Our final training came just a week before the Pl was to deploy to Kenya with the soldiers completing a LF Section Attack range at Lydd.

I deployed to Kenya with the Advance Party on the 14th Jan, with the remainder of my soldiers and some key enablers following some four or five days later. On arrival in Kenya we were processed through an accelerated Reception, Staging and Onward Integration (RSOI) package and moved to the A Company enhanced Coy harbour location where we embarked upon a ten day training period. This phase was called EX ASKARI WARRIOR and included further acclimatisation and familiarisation shoots using the latest night vision systems before completing day and night shoots and attacks at Team, Section and Platoon levels. During this period of training an integrated Coy level attack took place using the Deployable Tactical Engagement Simulation (DTES) kit. This involved preliminary moves the afternoon before by the various Platoons to a hasty Company harbour location followed by a night move to the Line of Departure (LD). As this phase used blank ammunition we had the benefit of a ‘live’ enemy. Almost needless to say the enemy didn’t quite ‘play fair’ and whether by luck or good judgement managed to attack us in our Forming Up Point (FUP) as we moved forward to the LD. Despite this set back and some heavy initial casualties the Company completed the mission, which was to attack onto and through a village and trench complex.

LCpl Temple Section 2iC, D Coy.

LCpl Temple Section 2iC, D Coy.

At the end of this phase we moved north to the significantly hotter Archers Post and continued our own organic Company training before executing the first of the ‘test’ exercises. This was the Combined Arms Live Firing Ex (CALFEX); the first day of which was the culmination point for the Integration Pilot. A Company underwent a reorganisation which saw it move from having four organic Platoons to having three conventional Platoons at a near full compliment and a Manoeuvre Support Section. We formed one of the three Platoons and were fully manned; this being the final test of the integration to see that an AR Platoon could fully function with our Regular Army counterparts as a formed entity. Over the next eight hours or so we conducted a night move to the FUP and launched through the LD shortly after dawn. After the initial Advance to Contact we were ‘steered’ onto the Enemy positions by reconnaissance assets and commenced several co-ordinated Platoon attacks operating as a Company Group. During these attack phases we also conducted an obstacle crossing; this was in the shape of breeching a minefield.

The CALFEX was completed in accordance with the Army’s ‘Fight Light’ policy and in temperatures of around 40+ degrees. This placed all the exercising troops and the Company resupply elements under great pressure. Despite this there were only two heat casualties across the whole Company and the Limit of Exploitation (LOE) was reached 15 minutes before the required time.

LCpl Murphy, B Coy, Pte Maguire, B Coy, Pte Gilmore and LCpl Fenn, HQ Coy.

LCpl Murphy, B Coy, Pte Maguire, B Coy, Pte Gilmore and LCpl Fenn, HQ Coy.

At this point the majority of the AR element began their recovery to the UK. This involved initial transport back to Laikipia Air Base (LAB) to ‘de-kit’, pack and travel on to Nairobi for the flight home. However just under a quarter of us elected to remain in Kenya and complete the next two phases of Ex ASKARI STORM 5. This saw a continued period of the CALFEX and a further four days of that exercise phase (Ex ASKARI CENTURIAN). The remaining 3 PWRR soldiers were used to backfill the Platoons within A Company and I joined the Coy HQ element. This saw us move through two further two day phases – one on Defence and one on Enabling Operations. On completion we move back to LAB for a re-conditioning period of four or five days. During this period low level training continued within the Company.

The final phase of the exercise then took place; this was an intensive six day Battlegroup (BG) exercise called Ex ASKARI SPARTAN. The soldiers of 3 PWRR continued to perform as part of A Company. The BG returned from the exercise and once the post exercise de-kit was completed two community projects under the control of the Padre were activated. One involved several work projects at a local school near to LAB and the second being almost solely manned by 3 PWRR personnel back at Archer’s Post. This involved the clearing of vegetation from around the town’s primary water source. The team; ten 3 PWRR and two R ANGLIAN personnel made short work of the vegetation, clearing the surrounding area of the spring in just under two days. Being away and acting as an independent element we were also able to interact with the local population. The land we were working on belonged to the local Chief, who also owned a Bar/ Restaurant. He was kind enough to host us both nights and some local cuisine was enjoyed. On returning to LAB after the project was completed it was our turn to begin the process of returning home. Almost immediately we transited through a Movement Control Check Point (MCCP) and then boarded the transport that took us back to Nairobi and the eventual flight home.

We arrived back to a damp and windy England late in the morning the following day having completed a gruelling six week deployment to Kenya in some very arduous conditions. It was a fascinating experience and we were proud to be an AR unit that had successfully completed an Integration Pilot. The success of this stands 3 PWRR and 1 R ANGLIAN at the forefront of integration between Reserve and Regular Battalions and I look forward to the continued training and operational opportunities that this relationship will offer in the future.

 

Surrey ACF Band Play at the First ever Guildford Half Marathon


Surrey Army Cadet Force Band

Back in October 2013 Surrey ACF Band were approached by Kirsty Newton (one of the event planners) to supply the music at one of the posts along the route of the first Surrey Half Marathon.  The Band would be tasked to play for the runners and crowd on the day.

Band of the Surrey Army Cadet Force

Band of the Surrey Army Cadet Force

It was a huge task as the Band only formed in May 2012 with only 6 players two adults and four young cadets none of which had played any musical instrument, but the Band grew and so did it’s experience with now a total of 18 members, 11 cadets 5 of which are beginners and 7 adults 1 of which is a beginners.  Excitement grew at the thought of playing our very first stand-alone open air performance, the choice of music had to cover the runners and crowd.  The Band worked hard under the Conductor’s guiding hand (CSM Kit Donal) and Mr Clive James (Civilian Assistant and Music Advisor) to ensure that the Band had the correct music, professionalism and dedication to put out a top performance on the day.

Band in full swing

Band in full swing

The Band voted for the theme tune Chariots of Fire to play for the runners to mark their efforts, this was played on a loop for best part of 15 minutes! That was tough for the Band but they did a fantastic job!, other tunes included Forrest Gump, Cabaret, Pirates of the Caribbean and marches to lift the crowd.  It was a proud day for all.

The day started at 0600 for the minibus driver and escort to pick up cadets from Dorking, the rest of the Band meeting at their home location at Guildford ACF Hut at 0800hrs, the equipment had to be loaded in a quick turnaround to be at the post at Burpham Lane by 0900, the mad rush to unpack, put up the tent, seating and stands preceded along with getting into full ceremonial dress, time of a quick tune up then at 1015 the first of the runners were through.

It was a glorious day, sun shining, large crowd great music! Surrey ACF Band are proud that they took part in such an occasion and they had great feedback too, and it’s anticipated they will be asked to do it all over again next year!

The Band Sergeant Major (and Conductor) Kit Donal would like to say a huge thank you to all the CFAV and CA’s that took part in the event because without your hard work we could not do this, and to all the cadets that were there well done on playing so well keep up the hard work you have made me so proud.

If you are interested in joing Surrey Army Cadet Force Band please email sacfband@hotmail.co.uk or visit https://www.facebook.com/surreyarmycadetforceband

103 Battalion REME, the Army’s equivalent to the AA


Ex Southern Bluebell

It’s not every day that you get the chance to get up close and personal with a Coyote!  But that’s what I was doing yesterday.

It was with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation that I pulled up outside the Army barracks at Tidworth on Salisbury Plain for a day with the 103 Battalion REME, the Army’s equivalent to the AA.  Not one to know an axle from a drive shaft, I was thrust briefly into the world of petrol heads and greasy mechanics and it was important they thought I knew what they were talking about!!

The Army reservists from the Battalion which has units in Crawley, Hilsea, Ashford and Redhill, were all taking part in Exercise Southern Bluebell, an integrated training weekend designed specifically for REME Army Reservists to undertake training to improve their currency and competency trade skills so they are able to support the Regulars in terms of being fit to mobilise.  With a variety of different trades being showcased, from armourers, to vehicle mechanics and recovery specialists, and with Regulars and Reserves sharing their wealth of experience I knew I was in for an interesting day.

Sorting the problem !!

Sorting the problem !!

From what I could see when I entered the hangar, it was every car mechanics dream!  When and where else would you get the chance to remove and replace a drive shaft from a Coyote, change a bulb on a Mastiff or repair a power steering fluid reservoir on a Jackal?  From my inexperienced eye, I could see that I was standing amongst several millions of pounds worth of heavy duty and specialised military equipment in the hangars – all with bonnets up and innards exposed!

WOII Adie Leah, 37, part of 5 Battalion REME in Sheffield is a Regular Permanent Staff Instructor responsible for training the Army Reserves.  Having served for 19 years, his experience of carrying out battled damage repairs is second to none.  “Having the skills to get a vehicle back on the road quickly is the priority, and the Vehicle Mechanics (VMs) need to think creatively, using whatever they have available.  It could be a coke can or a bandage – you’d be surprised at how ingenious our VMs can be to get the vehicle and the crew out of a situation and back to safety.”

British Army's answer to the AA

British Army’s answer to the AA

It struck me very quickly that these members of the Territorial Army, which is soon to become the Army Reserve, have vocational skills training that takes years to accumulate.   I was in the presence of soldiers, regular and reserve, who have actually saved lives – not by administering first aid, but by having the confidence and skills to think “outside of the box”, repairing vehicles on the side of the road, under extreme pressure and often under fire and using anything at their disposal.  Corporal Reece Hancock, 44, serves with 128 Field Company in Hilsea, Portsmouth.  A DT school teacher on civvy street, he swapped the classroom for six months in Afghanistan supporting the Regular Army’s 6 Battalion Close Support.   Clearly extremely passionate about his role in the Army Reserve, his enthusiasm was hard to contain when telling me about the time he carried out an improvised repair to the fuel pipe on a Husky.  “This training exercise is really important.  The more knowledge you have about different vehicles, the better you become at cross-servicing and that in itself gives you confidence to make good repairs under extreme pressure.”

Sergeant Catherine Moat, 44, works for the Border Force and serves with 133 Field Company in Ashford.  With more than 20 years’ service under her belt, she confessed to the Army Reserves having changed her life.  “It’s tested my mettle that’s for sure.  But I’ve travelled the world and gained skills that will mean that I’ll never be out of a job as getting all my driving qualifications means that I can drive a bus, a coach or an HGV.  Better still, I can service my own vehicle and no garage will manage to hoodwink me as I know what they’re talking about!  You get out of the Army Reserves what you put in and I have made great friends who I know will support me through thick and thin!”

The exercise wasn’t all dirty and hands-on.  Corporal Sian Davies, 34, a Solicitor from 128 Field Company in Hilsea, was on hand specifically to give an honest and objective view from her most recent tour to Afghanistan with the Light Aid Detachment.  “Giving the guys the benefit of our very recent experience from theatre is all part of the training process.  By giving them a short presentation with photos, we can talk knowledgably about what it’s really like out there – anything from the accommodation and food to the handing over processes and how we integrated into the Regular units.  For instance on my tour, it was several months before they actually realised I was a Reservist.”

For the afternoon session we left the vehicle mechanics and their spanners to it and made our way to a training area on Salisbury Plain that looked like a scene from one of the Mad Max movies.  In plain view was a petroleum truck – on its side – and not looking in very good shape.  The task set was to right the 30 tonne vehicle back on its four wheels without damage to either the vehicle or the personnel involved.  Well this team of recovery mechanics or “rechy mechs” as they’re affectionately known, made it look easy!  However it was far from that and the skills required by the experienced Crew Commander were plain to see.  Demonstrating calmness and confidence, he got the team to assess the situation, put their plan together, attach winch lines, strops and then with incredible authority, and because he knew exactly what he was doing and his team had complete faith in his experience, the truck was expertly tipped upright and back on its wheels, almost kissing the ground beneath it.  No thuds, no shouting, just pure skill, precision and experience at work!  Lance Corporal Ian Bewers, 44, from Benfleet, serves with 150 Recovery Company in Reigate and is a very experienced Recovery Mechanic.  On civvy street he trains drivers of petroleum vehicles.  It’s a demanding job in itself, which he combines with a busy family, but he clearly loves his part-time role in the Army Reserves too, up to his arms in mud and grease and lugging bits of heavy metal around.  “I get so focused on the skills I need for my civvy job, so coming on this training weekend has been great for getting me thinking about other strategies and refreshing and using different skills.  I’m hoping to do my Class 1 Course in March, which will enable me to become a Crew Commander, and instruct the other soldiers and supervise these type of tasks.  It’s a tough course and I’ll be able to draw from the experiences of this weekend.”

And so, after a really great day and with my introduction to 103 Battalion REME complete, I am off to my car – I’m out of window washer fluid, does anyone know how I open the bonnet .….?

If you are interested in joining the REME check out http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/reservists/ta/rhq103bnreme.aspx

 

 

 

A very successful boating year


Sheppey Sea Cadets reflect on year!

Petty Officer Cadet Cali Jeferies, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook from Sheppey Sea Cadets recently competed in the Sea Cadet National Combined Regatta with outstanding results.

POC Jeffries qualified in first place for single female Yole Rowing at the Southern Area Regatta in July and went forward to the National competition. She competed in three races against cadets from other areas covering the whole of the United Kingdom and won all three resulting in her being announced as National Champion, the best single female rower in the country.

Petty Officer Cadet Cali Jeferies, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook

Petty Officer Cadet Cali Jeferies, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook

Brother and sister team, Daniel and Laura Snook have combined their individual sailing abilities to create a force to be reckoned with.  They competed in the Southern Area Regatta, taking first place in both Bosun Class sailing and also the Sail Boat Handling competition. The Boat Handling competition required them to demonstrate exceptionally high levels of technical ability in comparison to the racing skills in the Bosun Class.

Daniel and Laura qualified for the National Sailing Regatta in Stockport and took part in four races against some strong competition. They were announced as overall winners of the Bosun Class after achieving a Bronze and three Gold medals for their race results.

In addition to Daniel and Laura, a further four cadets from Sheppey Unit attended the National Sailing Regatta, meaning Sheppey Unit made up half of the Southern Area Team which is a huge achievement. AC Louis Reeves and Cdt Lee Bishop formed the second Bosun crew and worked hard during the four races managing to gain a Bronze medal in one race and coming 6th overall from a total of 14 competitors.  AC Georgia Allan took part in the singlehanded Pico class and OC Jamie Brown took part in the under 15’s Topper class, both put in a huge amount of effort with results to be proud of.

Two weeks later, Leading Cadet Daniel Snook and Able Cadet Laura Snook were sixth on the programme at the National Sail Boat Handling Competition in London. Challenges in the Boat Handling routine include rigging, paddling, sailing a triangular course, man overboard procedure, reefing afloat, returning alongside and stowage of equipment.  Taking approximately 45 minutes, they have to maintain a high level of communication and technical ability. Their skill level and amazing teamwork led them to be awarded 120.5 marks out of a possible 132, placing them yet again in 1st place.

For more information on Cadets please visit http://www.serfca.org/en-gb/cadets.aspx