June 21st 2023

HMS Sherwood: Serving with the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserves Unit

Midshipman Bainbridge

Midshipman Eleanor Bainbridge is the Recruitment Officer for HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserves Unit.

During the day she studies mechanical engineering as part of her PhD at the University of Lincoln. On evenings and weekends she raises awareness of the bounty of opportunities for advancement and adventure in the Royal Naval Reserves.

Her biggest challenge is spreading the word. There’s no need for a hard sell.

“What other part-time job would pay you to travel overseas to ski?,” says Midshipman Bainbridge, 25, Lincoln. “I find the comradery and the sports, travel and adventure training resonate with people – that and the fact you are paid to do it.

“Going into the ship’s company gives me some escape for a couple of hours and helps to clear my mind.”

National security and resilience

The Reserve Forces play a crucial role in national security, from countering security threats, peacekeeping, and humanitarian efforts abroad to supporting communities at home.

On average Royal Naval Reservists make a minimum annual commitment of 24 days, involving regular drill nights at their local centre, training weekends, and an annual camp – all of which Reservists are paid for.

Together, the Royal Naval Reserves, Army Reserves, RAF Reserves, and Royal Marines Reserve make up roughly 18% of Britain’s Armed Forces. Each year their contributions are celebrated on Reserves Day, which this year takes place on 21st June.

Midshipman Bainbridge’s first experience of the Royal Naval Reserves was a far cry away from the hands-on and often adrenaline-filled adventures she speaks about to potential recruits.

In fact, it was an experience we can all relate to: sitting at home gazing at a screen during a video conference call. Nevertheless, even then in the midst of a pandemic with social distancing rules in place, the sense of camaraderie was strong.

“Joining HMS Sherwood during the pandemic was surreal,” says Midshipman Bainbridge, who plans to join the Royal Navy as an engineer after her doctorate.

“My first drill night was virtual so I had a very stripped-back experience without physical training etcetera – something I’m sure we can all relate to.

“I met lots of people online and they were really warm and welcoming. I felt at ease straight away.”

Midshipman Bainbridge at HMS Sherwood, Chilwell.

Proudest moment

Fast forward to May this year and Midshipman Bainbridge passed her phase one training and she will shortly be promoted to Sub-Lieutenant.

“Completing my phase one training has to be my proudest achievement so far. The pride of coming out the other end knowing I have passed it all and that the Navy believes I fit the role and will do them proud is an absolutely amazing achievement.”

As part of her training programme, Midshipman Bainbridge deployed to the Channel for two weeks on an offshore patrol vessel as part of Operation Isotrope.

“There was such a close-knit group on board, everyone from the Able Seaman up to the ship’s Executive Officer were welcoming and friendly.

“They helped to show me around and taught me what I need to know. Being at sea was an absolutely phenomenal experience. For me it really solidified what I wanted to.”

Upon promotion, Bainbridge will join the General Warfare Branch and have the opportunity to support carrier strike and amphibious operations at sea around the world. She is also due to represent HMS Sherwood at an upcoming field gun competition in Portsmouth.

At Foresters House, Chilwell, HMS Sherwood hosts a drill night once a week for two hours where sailors are taken through activities such as indoor climbing, disaster recovery or compartmental clearances looking for hostiles. On top of this Reservists attend training weekends and an annual camp once a year.

With Armed Forces Week taking place between 19-25 June, HMS Sherwood is gearing up for a busy few weeks.

The unit will be attending special Armed Forces day events in Newark on 18th June, Leicester on 24th June, Rushcliffe also on 24th June, and Mansfield on 25th June.

HMS Sherwood is also hosting an open evening at its Foresters House base in Chilwell, next to Chetwynd Barracks, on 3rd July.

“There’s something for everyone in the Reserves,” she adds. “And you can make it what you want – a great social get away with like-minded people or if you want be out there making a difference you can deploy. The Reserves is what you make of it.”

Interested in joining HMS Sherwood? Come along to their open evening at Foresters House, Chilwell, Nottingham, on July 11th. Secure your place on Eventbrite.

Use our Reserve Unit Finder to begin your journey today.