Reservists and Cadets steal NE show

May 13, 2016

HRFCA’s North Eastern Area Committee Meeting was convened by Chair John Lemon at Gordon Barracks on 12 May. 

A strong turnout saw 34 people enjoy an evening of individual insights into life in the Cadets and Reserves, with many amazing stories of challenges overcome and great personal achievements.

The theme throughout the evening was ‘transferrable skills’ and was referred to by all speakers, despite them all being at very different stages in their studies/careers.

Aberdeen UOTC’s Isla Matheson – a postgraduate student – said: “I’m getting loads out of the UOTC as part of my masters studies’, and you can achieve far more than you think you can, even when you’re cold and tired.”

She added that she had attended a ‘Dispel the Myths’ day at RMA Sandhurst.

Her UOTC colleagues echoed her sentiments and spoke about the range of training and social opportunities on offer, including military training, leadership and teamworking, and adventurous training, from hill-walking to canoeing, to a forthcoming climbing expedition in France.  

Marine Will Barratt said he joined the RMR in 2012 having returned from global travels and viewed it as an opportunity to get the ‘best of both worlds’. He spoke eloquently about the exacting standards demanded of Royal Marines, with no distinction made between Regulars and Reservists, so RMR service demands personal commitment. Even when not undertaking formal training the individual must take responsibility for their own progress. In exchange, the Royal Marine Reserve builds leadership and self-confidence and offers the opportunity to work alongside Regulars. He is currently going through the commissioning process.

Marine Lorcan Thame is a police officer and police diver, one of only 20 in Scotland. Lorcan talked about the challenges of reconciling a demanding career as a police officer – constant training, demanding shift pattern – with RMR service, and in return how being a Royal Marine complemented his role in the police.

RMR Sgt Paul ‘Cookie’ Cook explained how as a Regular he enjoyed an incredibly varied and challenging career, with tours in Iraq and Afghanistan including, prior to deploying to the mountains of Afghanistan, being sent on ‘a donkey and mule-packing course in Melton Mowbray’. He left regular service to follow his wife, a geologist in oil and gas, to Aberdeen, where he transitioned seamlessly into the RMR, and now works in security in the industry. For him the change to a civilian job while continuing to serve in the Royal Marines ‘has really paid off and I love it’. He too is going through the commissioning process, and as a Senior NCO is looking forward to ‘seeing how much silver they’ve got in their mess!’.   

ATC Cadet Sgt Eilidh Rattray won her audience and provided a compelling personal insight into her time in the Cadets, speaking with great passion about the confidence and friendship she had gained, and the importance of structure and routine in young people’s lives. Eilidh is keen to give back to the Cadets what they have given to her (she talked about her recent trip to Westminster as ‘like it was Christmas’), and has ambitions to become an adult volunteer and pursue her dream of commissioning as an RAFVR officer.

For more images from the event click HERE.