June 27th 2023

HM Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire unites local businesses and soldiers in Reserves Day celebration

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Businesses discovered the benefits of hiring Reservists at a networking session hosted by HM Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Mr Michael Kapur OBE during Armed Forces Week.

Reservists from HMS Sherwood, 203 Squadron Royal Logistics Corps, the Royal Yeomanry and 3 Royal Anglian were in attendance alongside leaders from local businesses.

Able Rating James Gough, a Royal Naval Reservist with HMS Sherwood, Chilwell, works for aviation services company Swissport out of East Midlands Airport.

He joined the Reserves in 2019 and said his military role complements his civilian role, and vice versa.

“The management team and colleagues at Swissport quickly became interested and very supportive of my role in the Royal Naval Reserves, “ he said. “They were very aware of my improved leadership qualities, decision-making, physical and mental fitness, confidence and overall work ethic.”

In September 2022, Able Rating Gough was deployed on Operation Achillean, conducting forward logistics site operations in the Mediterranean.

He described the opportunity as “a dream come true” and said since the operation he has been shortlisted for a temporary position in Japan, an opportunity which has been possible thanks to his experience in the Reserves.


Mutual benefit

A key theme of the night, which was organised in collaboration with East Midlands RFCA and Leicestershire County Council at County Hall, Glenfield, was not just what you can do for Defence, but what Defence can do for your business. Able Rating Gough’s story helped to highlight this case.

Kevin Buchanan, Group Chief Executive Officer at Pall-Ex Group, continued the theme of business benefit. Pall-Ex is a leader in palletised freight distribution and a Gold holder of the Ministry of Defence’s Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS).

Kevin said: “The sector has been in the midst of a skills shortage for a number of years now which has led us to look at alternative ways we could get the best people into our business and maintain our high standards.

“Our decision to sign the Armed Forces Covenant came when we realised the mutual benefit between Pall-Ex and Armed Forces personnel. Not only were we contributing to our corporate social responsibilities and filling vacancies, but it also enabled us to provide a supportive and welcoming workplace for Reservists, Cadets, veterans and their families.

“We recognised the skills military and ex-military personnel brought to the table were well suited to logistics careers. Working with the Armed Forces community and listening to their needs created an opportunity to bring highly skilled people into the workplace who would help to propel us forward on our journey to excellence.”

Leicestershire County Council resigns the Armed Forces Covenant.

A pledge to the nation

The Armed Forces Covenant (AFC) is built on the principle that service in the Armed Forces does not attract a disadvantage. It is a pledge to the nation, free to sign and an easy way to show support.

Leicestershire County Council, also Gold Award holders of the ERS, led the way on the Reserves Day celebration to not only resign the AFC, but to increase their commitment to giving Reservists additional days of leave from 10 to 12 additional days each year.

Concluding the evening, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, Mr Michael Kapur OBE, who is a passionate supporter of our Armed Forces, added: “Tonight was really an opportunity for people to come along and get to know each other. I was very keen that we try and get out of some of the perceptions of them and us, between civilian and military life.

“It’s about us and us, that’s the best way to drive our local economy together and to make sure we have cohesive local societies.

“I think the unity we can have between civilian life, between business life, and between military life is going to be one of those great assets in which we can build a harmonious and prosperous society.”

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