All aboard for signing

April 12, 2018
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Lochaber Chamber of Commerce took to the water to sign the UK Armed Forces Covenant. 

The Chamber made its commitment to support the country’s servicemen and women wherever and however it can and to ensure no member of the Armed Forces should suffer any disadvantage as a result of their service, onboard HMS Charger, a Royal Navy P2000 fast patrol boat.

The 12 April signing – by Chamber director Johnny Bell – took place during a trip for employers on the Caledonian Canal from Loch Ness to Corpach. The document was co-signed on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) by the ship’s commander, Lt Paul Harsent RN.

More than 2000 UK organisations have now signed the Armed Forces Covenant.

The event was organised by Highland Reserve Forces’ and Cadets’ Association and attended – along with the signatories and other employers – by Regional Employer Engagement Director Michelle McKearnon.

The P2000 was crewed by young officer cadets from University Royal Naval Units (URNUs) who were literally learning the ropes under the watchful eye of their commanding officer.

The signing was one of the highlights of the trip which also saw the ship take part in training manoeuvres on Loch Ness.

Michelle commented: “The young Officer Cadets were very impressive and had huge responsibility for all sorts of tasks, from providing lunch to managing the locks on the canal and practising rescuing our “man” overboard. As confident and capable young people, they really showcased their skills.”

Vincent Docherty, Head of Education for Aberdeenshire Council, who also joined the ship as a guest of Highland RFCA, said: “This has been a first class experience from an education point of view. Watching the crew work together as a team and seeing all the transferable skills on offer, has been fascinating. I think this is a life-changing experience for these youngsters who are learning and developing in an exciting, but very supportive environment.”

Colleen MacLean from DYW remarked that she was very excited to be taking new ideas back to schools after the trip, and that she had learned a great deal about the many different career options in the Armed Forces.

“It was great to see curriculum subjects and themes such as STEM in action,” she said, adding: “These cadets would be an asset to any employer.”

Click through the gallery below to see more images from the day.

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