November 25th 2020

Financial Advisor describes his first year training as an Army Reserve

Gnr Townsend

Gunner (Gnr) Harry Townsend

Gunner (Gnr) Harry Townsend provides a first-person view on his first year with 103 Regiment Royal Artillery, Hucknall, the reasons he chose the Army Reserve, and why he hasn’t looked back since.

“Sometimes in life, an idea you have just seems to fit the situation perfectly. I was back in rural Nottinghamshire for the first time since I had left for University six years before and I was lonely. Returning to my family home after living in the freedom of South Africa for three years meant I felt restricted. I was switching careers from education to personal finance and I felt like I was starting from scratch again.

“Like any proactive individual, I needed to do something. That something was joining the Army Reserve and I would like to tell you why.

“The Army gave me an instantly welcoming group of peers. It gave me structure and focused me on my goals. The Army gave me opportunities to develop and grow.

Phase 1 Alpha training

Phase 1 Alpha training

“My first contact with the Army was in the hallowed museum of the South Notts Hussars in Bulwell. There, a deeply enthusiastic Sergeant Major painted a picture of an ambitious group of Gunners in Nottingham, keen to grow, be recognised as a professional outfit and capable of high quality soldiering. I left feeling motivated – perhaps for the first time since landing back in the UK. And so the journey through 2019 and 2020 started in earnest …”

Structured training regime

“Assessment Centre – The first step. I distinctly remember duck-walking across the floor of a doctor’s consultation room in my underwear. Nothing too challenging but a great first taste of the military.

“Attestation – A slap on the back and a hearty welcome (and a cheque for £300). This is where the sense of belonging, identity, and collective effort started.

“Phase 1 Alpha – Making mistakes, lots of them, but learning the rudiments. Building your confidence to get to grips with the SA80 Weapons System.

“Phase 1 Bravo – The real deal. A challenge and a host of new experiences (and a cheque for £1,000). Physically demanding, mentally fatiguing but an opportunity to form teams with people from many different backgrounds with myriad life experiences.

Phase 1 Bravo

Phase 1 Bravo

Covid-19 – Not on every Army Reserve recruit’s training plan but the circumstances of the time demonstrated to me how quickly a capable team can be formed and deployed when the need arises. This embedded for me the value a soldier can add to society.

“Army Officer Selection Board – The next steps. Embarking on the road to be a Commissioned Officer in the British Army. The culmination of all the effort of the last year and a chapter only just opening for me.

Next steps in Army Reserve

“It’s important to note I’m not writing this from the other end of the story – I’m a year into my shadow career in the Army Reserve and a relative novice still. We are currently preparing to go away for two weeks on Annual Camp. Soon I will be starting my trade-specific training on the L118 Light Gun and later in the year, I will be attending training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. The future has lots in store and I am chomping at the bit to get going.

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst

“Of course, none of this would be possible without the support of my employer. I am a financial advisor with a growing specialism in helping members of the Armed Forces Community with their personal financial planning. Recently my employer, Campbell Cain Wealth Management Ltd has signed the Armed Forces Covenant and achieved Bronze Employer Recognition Status. By helping me to work flexibly they are right behind me every step of the way and it feels good to have a place of work that invests in you as a person, not just as an employee”.

Director of Campbell Cain Wealth Management Ltd, Susan Cain, commented: “I already had a military connection through my membership of the Nottingham & Nottinghamshire United Services Club and therefore a strong appreciation of the role the Armed Forces have had in protecting the modern society that we all benefit from today.

“My brother previously served in the Army and I saw first hand the support he received through his transition from military to civilian life when he left the service. Supporting Harry as he combines his careers as a Financial Advisor and an Army Reservist is actually a privilege and in some small way, Campbell Cain Wealth Management supporting the Armed Forces Covenant, I feel that we are making our own small contribution to society.”

Are you interested in joining the Reserves Forces? Find a Unit near you.

"The Army gave me an instantly welcoming group of peers. The Army gave me structure and focused me on my goals. The Army gave me opportunities to develop and grow." - Gnr Townsend