Employers from across Scotland gathered in the Great Hall of Edinburgh Castle on 2 November for the Defence Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Awards dinner.
Principal military host and speaker at the dinner sponsored by Highland and Lowland RFCAs was Lt Gen Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People. He heads up the MoD’s strategy for developing a ‘capable and motivated military and civilian workforce’ across Defence.
Also in attendance as hosts were Chris Smith NRC SNI, DComd 51X Col Charlie Wallace, Gov Edinburgh Castle Maj Gen Mike Riddell-Webster, Edinburgh Garrison Comd Lt Col Doug Mackay, and both RFCA CEs.
A total of 56 employers attended from both public sector and commercial organisations, 21 of whom were receiving silver awards.
Following drinks in Laich Hall the guests were conducted into the Great Hall where they were welcomed by Maj Gen Riddell-Webster.
Introduction to the event was provided by HRFCA Chief Executive Mark Dodson – who subsequently announced each award and invited Lt Gen Nugee to speak.
Dinner was served by caterers Benugo under the watchful eye of MC Cpl Snowy Robinson of 3 Cdo Bde RM.
Music was provided by an ensemble from the Band of 6 SCOTS (all reservists), plus an impressive piping performance by Cadet Piper Paul Christie and Cadet Piper Christopher Happs of George Heriot’s School CCF.
Three excellent speakers shared their experiences of being a reservist, Cadet Force Adult Volunteer (CFAV) and employer.
The first was Royal Naval Reservist Lt Chris McDade RNR.
He said: “I have two roles in my current RNR appointment; as a Divisional Officer in HMS Dalriada with responsibility for the discipline and welfare of sailors, and professionally as an Amphibious Warfare Officer with the job of managing the assault phase of amphibious operations. The RNR has taught me how to adapt my leadership style to the requirements of particular circumstances and I am constantly learning new techniques. My RNR career is a real challenge and a chance to get stuck in. It has really made a massive positive difference to the way I approach my day job.”
Lt McDade was followed by speaker Lynette Brough, a CFAV from West Lowland Bn ACF who shared her experiences of being in the ACF.
She said: “I can remember when I first heard from friends about this ‘fantastic club’ called the Army Cadet Force so I went along, joined as a cadet and have never looked back. As an adult volunteer I have learned a lot – patience, the ability to strategise and plan; a whole range of strengths. The ACF can’t function without its volunteers, but the amount of satisfaction you get out of it is amazing. You see these little kids coming in nervous and shy, just like I felt. They come out as confident, articulate 18 year olds able to join the workforce and contribute to society.”
The final speaker was Sandy MacDonald of Standard Life who gave an employer’s perspective on recruiting former service personnel.
He said: “As an organisation that sees itself as a defence supporter, we are aware of the way service leavers are sometimes viewed. There is still some stigma and reference to stereotypes: either the ‘Dambusters’ sort, with elderly veterans with lots of medals – there seem to be a few of them here this evening! – or the younger generation with drug and alcohol issues. Neither is true, and we have found that the commercial benefits of employing service leavers with the skills they bring is enormous. Through our organisation’s armed forces network we are able to make the most of this, and we look forward to working with defence in the future.”
Dinner was followed by the presentation of awards by Lt Gen Nugee to: Aberdeenshire Council; Aberdein Considine; Angus Council; Argyll & Bute Council; Ayrshire Chamber of Commerce and Industry; City Cabs (Edinburgh) Ltd; Driver Hire Dundee and Perth; Edinburgh Napier University; Falkirk Football Club; Glasgow University; Knockhill Racing Circuit; McLeod Glaziers Perth Ltd; Mortgage Advice Bureau; NHS Orkney; North Ayrshire Council; Perth & Kinross Council; Rangers Football Club and Charity Foundation; Scottish Engineering; Scottish Power Ltd; Thorntons Law LLP; and Virgin Money.
The presentation was followed by an address from Lt Gen Nugee.
Lowland RFCA REED Colin Vooght masterminded the event with outstanding support from the organisation’s admin officers. 154 Regt RLC provided logistics.
To view a gallery of images from the event, click HERE.