June 22nd 2015

Ilkeston Reservist set to take part in Reserves Day

A Reservist, who works for the NHS in his civilian career, is planning to wear his military uniform in to work this week (24 June) to raise awareness about the Reserve Forces in the local area.

Able Seaman Richard Cooke, aged 28, who lives in Ilkeston, joined HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit in 2009 and has never looked back since.

Richard explained that although he recently moved jobs, his new employer has been very supportive of his RNR commitments to date. He said: “I previously worked as a Primary Teaching Assistant working with children who had special needs, but recently began working at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

“One of the reasons I wanted to take part in Reserves Day this year was to raise awareness about what being a Reservist really means. Generally when a Reservist puts in his or her annual leave card and they are off for a week, not many questions are asked about where you have been or why they were away from the civilian work environment. I’m proud to serve my Country on a part-time basis and would like to embrace the opportunity to tell my colleagues more about my Reserve role as I think a lot of my training and activities often go by unseen as they often happen ‘behind closed doors.’”

Explaining that he feels a sense of purpose being a Reservist, Richard continued: “It is fantastic to think that I am doing something worthwhile in my spare time, and have the opportunity to visit locations around the world in support of our Defence efforts. I was recently deployed to Cadiz in Spain as part of a military exercise in support of an anti-piracy project.

“It was my job to liaise with harbour masters, ships visiting the area and the general shipping community to develop relationships and ensure that the ships got through the area in the most efficient way. This was a busy role that allowed me to further develop my problem solving skills, my leadership abilities and my ability to communicate with a wide range of people. All of which are beneficial to my civilian employer, and help me to complete my day-jobs effectively.”

Richard currently has two part-time jobs at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. He works within the HR team as a Recruiting and Resourcing Administer and also as a Family Support Worker.

He continued: “Some of my other proudest moments at HMS Sherwood include when I took part in the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, helped with security in the London 2012 Olympics and when I took part in Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. My family have always supported me in my Reserve career so I like to be able to repay them by inviting them along, where possible, to prestigious events I am involved in with the RNR.”

Paula Herr, Senior HR Manager at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, is Richard’s manager. She said: “Reservists carry out a highly valuable role for the Country; providing it with the security it needs in keeping its public safe. The Country relies on its Reservists to take an active part in its protection, more heavily than ever before.

“Nottinghamshire Healthcare prides itself on developing leaders and distributed leadership responsibilities. Reservists bring considerable leadership and management skills to the Trust; communication, problem solving and team working. Further, the development of these transferable skills is paid for, not by the Trust, but by the rigorous training Reservists receive.  There are therefore benefits for the individuals in terms of developing their skills and also for the Trust. Supporting Reservists simply make moral and business sense.”

Reserves Day is one of a series of events that will take place in the run up to Armed Forces Day and celebrates all those who volunteer their free time to serve with the military.

“It is fantastic to think that I am doing something worthwhile in my spare time, and have the opportunity to visit locations around the world in support of our Defence efforts."