August 10th 2013

“I’ve gained life skills I wouldn’t have got elsewhere”

Gaining life skills, new friends, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone and experiencing things as a team are all positive aspects of being a Royal Naval Reservist, according to Richard Cooke.

Richard, aged 26, who works as a Teaching Assistant at St John’s Primary School in Ripley in his civilian life, has been a Reservist at the East Midlands only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit, HMS Sherwood in Nottingham, for four years during which time he has successfully climbed Mount Snowdon, participated in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations and been deployed to the Olympics to help with security around the Olympic Park area.

When asked to describe his Reservist experience to date Richard said: “I’ve had the opportunity to gain life skills I wouldn’t have got elsewhere. I’ve improved my communication and leadership skills, my ability to solve problems and deal with a variety of situations in a calm and professional manner. All of which has helped me in my civilian life as a Teaching Assistant where I may be required to resolve potential conflicts, deal with problems and provide behavioural and educational support when required for individuals.
“I’ve been working as a Teaching Assistant in Ripley for three years over which time my employer, Derbyshire County Council, has been really supportive of my military commitments.  I think they are proud to have individuals like me working for the organisation who are linked to the Armed Forces and have a range of transferable skills to benefit the business.
“I’ve always had an interest in joining the Armed Forces but after I finished University I had a desire to work in a care based role. I’ve now got the best of both worlds as my military and civilian careers run nicely alongside each other. The majority of my training happens on an evening or weekend, at which time I wouldn’t be at school anyway. On the rare occasion I need time-out for training purposes, my employer have supported me, which is much appreciated.”
Richard was recently one of ten Reservists from his unit to battle the wind and rain to climb Mount Snowdon. During the team’s descent from the mountain they noticed a fellow walker in another group who had slipped and fallen heavily in the dreadful conditions. Acting quickly, the team made their away towards the injured person moments after he took a tumble to check if he had broken any bones or needed any further help.
Richard continued: “I was really pleased to have climbed Snowdon and the difficult conditions made our ascent even more special. Our training and team spirit certainly paid off and the fact that we were able to provide first aid assistance and re-assurance to a fellow walker was great too.”
HMS Sherwood is currently recruiting and is looking for men and women who have a positive attitude, an interest in the Royal Navy and the desire to learn.
To find out more information contact 0115 929 6373 or email