Can you believe this is the final Blog of 2019? The year has flown by, with new faces arriving, old faces saying goodbye and a positive deluge of Armed Forces Covenants, ERS Bronze, Silver and Gold Awards and engagement events. Small wonder the team is almost out on its collective feet (and paws) but we stagger on to the finish line, fortified with the occasional festive mince pie to keep our strength up.
So what’s been occurring recently? Well our fabulous Gold Award winners travelled to London to receive their hard-earned ERS Gold awards for being outstanding advocates for Defence. Congratulations to our six winners: Aberdeenshire Council, IED Training, Knockhill Racing Circuit, Stirling Council, Police Scotland, and West Dunbartonshire Council. They will now go on to form our new Gold Association, helping other organisations to achieve best practice.
Hot on their heels come our equally fabulous Silver Award winners, who picked up their awards at Edinburgh Castle. We were all there to celebrate with Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce, Evi Charge Points, SFB Consulting, Fife Chamber of Commerce, Sport Aberdeen, Highlife Highland and Scottish Water, who all have Gold firmly in their sights for next year.
Sergeant Major George (whose Friday “Bear Facts” tweets generate much discussion) has also been on his travels, but further afield than London or Edinburgh. For the second year running George travelled to Washington with a team of marathon runners from 3 SCOTS and 7 SCOTS, raising funds for our Highland Cadet Forces Trust, to add to that raised by our Head of Comms and then Head of Engagement who took part in the Alloa and Stirling half-marathons earlier in the year. George had a blast and although he came back looking slightly worse for wear, our thanks to Captain Brian Baxter and WO2 Dave Swash for returning him to us in more or less one piece, and for raising £300 for our cadets.
Our final engagement event – a Christmas lunch with Dunbartonshire Chamber of Commerce – took place yesterday (Dec 12) at Boclair House and, as it was held in Bearsden, it seemed only natural that George would attend!
Before we stand down on December 20 it seemed like a good time to reflect on the year gone by, so we asked the team for their high (and low) points of 2019.
Michelle (Head Eng): “The high point was the success of our ChamberFORCE project as it completed its initial 12 month pilot with so much achieved, and seeing the team taking part in the first ever ChamberFORCE Stretch – the bouncy assault course was particularly good fun!
“The low point – saying goodbye to our previous Head Eng, Dai John as he retired. The levels of double entendres in the office just aren’t the same!”
Ally (Head Comms): “The high point was kicking off the fundraising drive for the Highland Cadet Forces Trust in March by taking part in the Alloa Half Marathon. Between myself and then Head of Engagement Dai John we raised almost £500 to allow the young people and adult volunteers of the cadet movement to develop leadership and life/social skills.
“The low point was not being able to complete Alloa alongside Dai as he picked up an injury during training. Happily, he recovered and was able to complete the challenge at the Great Stirling Run the following month.”
Roy (REED2): “The high point was our success in achieving six ERS Gold Awards this year, our highest ever to date. Combined with seven Silvers, it was a very good year for us.
“The lowest point for me was being tricked by my so-called colleagues into eating halloumi, heavily disguised in a tasty looking canape! You can’t trust anyone in here.”
Jim (REED1): “The high point was joining the team at the end of June 2019 and being thrown straight into Armed Forces Week.
“The low point? So far there aren’t any other than Roy’s snoring after he’s had his lunch!”
Sharon (Admin Officer): “The high points were being able to escape my desk at times to meet employers as a host during various events including ship visits and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
“The low point is that now we have a bigger team, the chocolate biscuits and coffee don’t last as long!”
Ellie (Comms Officer): “The high point was spelling “bureaucracy” correctly first time. For a Comms Officer, spelling has not been my greatest strength!
“The low point was my new car breaking down on the way to a Gun Salute and having to get changed at the side of the road while waiting for rescue!”
George (Bear): “Learning to parachute for Armed Forces Week was a high point for me – literally! Some training before being chucked out of the window would have been good, but you can’t have everything.
“The low point was definitely having to travel back from Washington in a suitcase with 7SCOTS’ used running kit! It’s a good job I’m a bear with a strong stomach!”