With Spring firmly here and the trees around HRFCA HQ laden with blossom, the Employer Engagement team has been infused with new energy and been out and about on the patch.
Our first event was an admittedly less than spring-like day at Knockhill Racing Circuit in Fife as part of their annual Armed Forces Support Day. Our employers were treated to a day of racing, a wonderful buffet lunch and the chance to have a spin round the track in a race car. The last activity left a few of us regretting the buffet lunch and made us realise just how skilled these drivers are! Huge thanks to Stuart Gray from Knockhill who was a splendid host and whose organisation does so much to support our ex-forces personnel. During the day, EVi Charge Points Ltd were presented with their ERS Bronze Award and now head onwards in search of their Silver.
From a chilly Fife to a glorious Aberdeen for Exercise Deep Heat; a mini-stretch leadership day for employees of Aberdeenshire Council and Sport Aberdeen, hosted by Lt Col Geraint Davies and officer cadets from the Aberdeen University Officer Training Corps. Much fun was had by all as delegates were put through their paces on the parade square and in series of leadership challenge activities. Lt Col Davies praised those attending for the impressive way they worked collaboratively to solve the challenges, but felt that their drill footwork left a little to be desired. His offer of several more hours of drill under the beady eye of the Regimental Sergeant Major was, unsurprisingly, not taken up!
Our next employer event had a much more melodious tone as employers were invited to MOD Caledonia as guests of the Royal Naval Reserve and the Royal Marines Concert Band. After a presentation and delicious curry supper, guests were taken to Carnegie Concert Hall to enjoy a superb performance taking us back in time to the Big Band Sound of the wartime 40s, followed by some rousing military anthems and marches with the Drum Corps giving their usual dazzling display. Huge thanks to Lt Commander Garth Atkinson for arranging this as part of our Chambers of Commerce programme of engagement events.
To round off a very busy month on the engagement front, Stirling Castle was the venue for a Royal Gun Salute to celebrate the 93rd birthday of Her Majesty the Queen. We were delighted to have The Regimental Band of The Black Watch Battalion, Army Cadet Force performing for our guests, the first time a Cadet band has played at a Royal Gun Salute, along with Air Cadets from 1019 (City of Stirling) Squadron who assisted ably with hosting duties. Our Cadets are always a credit to themselves and their units and embraced a great opportunity to showcase themselves as future employees to our business guests. 212 (Highland) Battery, 105 Regiment Royal Artillery, delivered the salute impeccably and reviewing officer Tim Allan, President of Scottish Chamber of Commerce, thanked everyone for what was a very enjoyable day.
As if all these events hadn’t been enough to keep us busy, our REEDs and employers across the Highland region have submitted 10 ERS Gold Award applications for consideration – a record number which reflects the excellent work being done by businesses and organisations of all shapes, sizes and sectors. Silver applications are going in as we speak, and then a long period of nail biting while we wait to hear from the awarding Board. Fingers crossed for success for all of our applicants.
And finally, a farewell to arms to our Head of Engagement Dai John who is belatedly taking the year out he promised himself 40 years ago and heading off on his travels to seek new adventures. We will miss him and his mastery of the double entendre, and wish him every success wherever his wandering feet take him. Michelle will take over as Head of Engagement from May, and we will welcome Jim Dickie as our new roving REED in June.