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 21, 2023, 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.
Air Specialist First Class (AS1) Virginia Ankers is a 32-year-old RAF Reservist from Drumnadrochit.
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 began looking at RAF roles back in 2019, but having decided that joining full-time wasn’t compatible with my lifestyle saw that being a Reservist could be a great add-on to my career. It provides variety and lots of exciting opportunities whilst being a meaningful way for me to invest my spare time. I joined 2622 (Highland) Squadron in 2021 as a Regiment Gunner and haven’t looked back.”
What’s the best part of being a Reservist?
“Getting to do something different at the weekends!”
Where has your Reservist career taken you?
“In September 2022, I was deployed to support the lying-in-state and funeral of HM Queen Elizabeth – a real privilege to be part of such a historic event. This year I have had the opportunity to go to Norway to learn about cold weather survival and Nordic skiing and look forward to visiting the US as part of an exchange programme.”
Do you have a favourite moment?
“When we lined the route for HM Queen Elizabeth’s funeral – saluting as her coffin passed by is a moment I will never forget.”
Tell us about your civilian job.
“In my civilian life, I am an Administrative Officer serving 1 Highlanders Army Cadet Force. I arrange travel, accommodation and logistics to enable cadet training and help to administer all human resources needs for our adult volunteers, including recruitment, training, safeguarding and remuneration.”
Being a Reservist requires time off work, how does your employer support those demands?
“My employer is extremely accommodating and supportive. They give me two weeks of special leave per year to allow me to attend annual training camp and they pay me for my time so I don’t lose out financially.”
What skills have you gained as a Reservist that enhance your civilian role?
“I think being a Reservist has taught me “to grab the bull by the horns” approaching opportunities and challenges with greater confidence. My skills in communication, organisation and problem-solving have improved tangibly too.
“Being a Reservist also provided the opportunity for my current role – I saw the job advertised through my squadron and having a military background formed a good basis for the role. I received lots of support in attending the interview as I was actually away with the RAF on the interview date.”
What would you tell a colleague who was interested in becoming a Reservist?
“I would say, explore your options! There’s definitely something for everyone and it’s worth taking time to look at how a Reservist role could provide you with new skills and relevant qualifications which you can take back into the workplace. In terms of personal benefits, being a Reservist encourages you to stay fit and keep learning and adapting no matter where you are in your career.”