October 8th 2015

Exercise Helios is a success

A Lincolnshire-based Reservist has taken part in an intensive training programme to learn the shooting and patrolling skills used for force protection operations.

Able Seaman Hannah Crowson, aged 22, from Spilsby, travelled to Cyprus to take part in a two-week package called Exercise Helios as part of her ongoing  training and development at HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit.

During the exercise, Hannah learnt to shoot a SA80 rifle from three to 15 metres on a close combat range, through to 300 metres on a long range. She also took part in a night shooting exercise to develop live firing skills, and practice drills in limited light conditions.

Hannah said: “I had just finished my Phase One RNR training before I travelled to Cyprus so I was kind of thrown in at the deep end with the course and wasn’t sure what to expect. Although, the other Reservists on the programme really took me under their wing and helped me along the way, so I really had nothing to worry about.

“Prior to the course, I had a basic knowledge of shooting a rifle having only done this once about seven-months ago. I found my shooting training as part of Exercise Helios to be intensive but good fun, and I felt much more confident of my abilities by the end of the programme.”

In her civilian life, Hannah works as a Support Worker For a charity called Sense, a role that sees her assist deaf, blind and visually impaired residents with activities and day-to-day living.

Hannah explained that both her colleagues and the residents she supports take an interest in her other part-time career: “The residents I look after always ask what Reserve training I have done at the weekend, and always remember when I’m taking part in an event. I have previously taken my RNR uniform into work for them to see, which prompted a few questions about when this clothing is worn and for what duties. I’ve had lots to update everyone on since I returned from Cyprus, which is great as I enjoy speaking about my role at HMS Sherwood and am proud to be a Reservist.”

Exercise Helios also allowed Hannah to learn to patrol an area and to carry out security checks like vehicle and personnel searches.

Hannah continued: “I completed my Level Two First-Aid training in the second week of the course, which goes more in depth allowing me to understand more about trauma injuries and how these could be addressed in an operational situation.

“I was actually able to put this learning into practice when I got home too as I came across a road traffic accident including four causalities on my way home from work on day. I assessed the injuries on the scene and was able to tell the paramedics when they arrived what I had done so far. Without my recent trauma training I think I may have felt lost, but luckily I was able to make a positive difference.”

The training course, concluded with an exercise to test the abilities of each individual who had taken part in the course. Hannah explained: “The 16 hour exercise included patrolling, battlefield First-Aid and casualty drills, briefing HQ about any unusual occurrences and dealing with an intruder for all of which we had to think on our feet.

“The final exercise was challenging and very realistic.  Dealing with trip wires and threats from armed civilians in very hot conditions definitely sent our pulses racing and tested our new knowledge.”

Exercise Helios was completed in August 2015, and included Royal Naval Reservists from across the UK.


“I had just finished my Phase One RNR training before I travelled to Cyprus so I was kind of thrown in at the deep end with the course and wasn’t sure what to expect."