Corporal Martha Collier

June 22, 2022

Reservists give up their spare time to serve in the Reserve Forces, balancing their civilian life with a military career to ensure that should their country require them, they would be ready to serve as part of the military.

The Reserve Forces make up approximately one sixth of our Armed Forces personnel and as such are integral to protecting the nation’s security at home and overseas, particularly providing capability in specialist areas such as medical and cyber.

Wednesday June 22, 2022, is Reserves Day – the day Reservists can wear their uniform to work – and we’re paying tribute to their hard work and dedication. After all, it’s not easy holding down two careers.

Martha Collier.

Corporal Martha Collier (27) lives in Dundee with her partner. She is a Reservist with 225 (Scottish) Medical Regiment. She works for NHS Tayside and is a Professional & Practice Development Nurse based at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Tell us about your career as a Reservist, when and where did it all start, what’s your current role, and what made you want to join up?

I have always loved adventure, as the youngest of three girls, my Dad gave up hope for a boy and was delighted when I was willing to go adventuring with him. My mum worked for the NHS and when she saw an advert for an open evening about the Army and the opportunities it can bring she thought of me and from that night, when I was about 16, it was on my mind. I initially tried to join the OTC at university but due to my health at the time was not successful. This did not put me off and I joined the reserves as a healthy, happy qualified nurse six years later. Unfortunately, I passed out from my Basic Training the week before lockdown and so spent the first year getting to know my Sqn over Zoom, but I am enjoying being back in the unit now and getting to know everyone.

What’s the best part of being a Reservist?

The people you meet. I am lucky to have support from some amazing colleagues who are always seeking to enable my development and keep me engaged, even when civilian life is busy!

I have also met an amazing group of friends who inspire me and have been my cheerleaders through the highs and lows. 

Where has your Reservist career taken you?

I attended my Basic Training in Edinburgh, and recently ventured down to York for my ALDP (Army Leadership Development Programme). I am looking at opportunities to deploy abroad early next year and am excited for the future opportunities available to me.

Do you have a favourite moment?

Although I hated it at the time, wading through waist height water in the freezing cold on my ALDP during a section attack is a pretty cool story to tell. And the support and sweets from my peers on the long patrol home was lovely. 

I also remember at my recruitment interview being told to always be myself and not to worry about ‘fitting in to Army stereotypes’. She told me the Army needed every type of person and that my nursing skills in communication and compassion were just as important as learning how to safely use a rifle or other military skills.

Martha is a nurse based at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee.

Tell us about your civilian job.

I am a registered adult nurse, my background is in Women’s Health and I am passionate about reducing health inequalities for women in Scotland and ensuring they are empowered in their care at all stages of their lives.

More recently I have been seconded to the Practice Development Team, working to enable person-centered cultures across Tayside and promote safe and effective nursing by delivering a range of education and training to enable and empower colleagues. This includes Clinical Skills and Leadership.

Being a Reservist requires time off work, how does your employer support those demands?

My employer is very supportive of my Army career and I am always enabled to take my two weeks additional leave for annual training requirements. They respect any requests for weekends off when I have Army training and are usually interested in hearing what I have got up to! I try to make both roles work for each other and take learning from both into each other. 

What skills have you gained as a Reservist that enhance your civilian role?

I have been enabled to reflect on leadership, especially on my ALDP and this started some great conversations in my nursing role around the spectrum of leadership. It has been interesting exploring transformational leadership approaches, which can promote staff wellbeing and improve patient outcomes, and balancing this with the ‘command and control’ approach often associated with the Army. Learning how to utilise the appropriate leadership style for the appropriate situation has enabled my development significantly.

What would you tell a colleague who was interested in becoming a Reservist?

Do it! You don’t know if you will love it or hate it until you try. You are in control of how much or little you put into it and get out of it so if you are thinking about it, just go for it!

● To find out more about the Army Reserve, click HERE.

Martha at the Scottish National War Memorial at Edinburgh Castle.