As an ex-gymnast and cheerleader, Vickie has happily taught PE at a secondary school in Peterborough for the past nine years but longed for a new adrenaline rush.
Having joined many local running clubs and sports groups, last September her mum suggested making contact with the local Army Reserve Centre. With no military background, Vickie decided to give it a go. “I emailed 158 Regiment first and the following Tuesday met with the unit. My advice is simply go for it! Making the initial contact was the hardest step. I kept thinking, do I fit? But I soon realised there is no one type of person. In the past few months, I’ve met so many Reservists from different walks of life with varying skills and fitness levels. The unit support you and help you get to where you want to go.”
“For me, I soon realised it was about gaining leadership skills. That was the new challenge I’d desperately been seeking. I needed an injection of mental stimulation alongside the physical activity. 158 instantly recognised my potential, formulated a development programme and believed in me. Ten months on, I can hardly believe that I’m on track to commission as an officer.”
Captain Chris Hughes, Officer Commanding, 200 Peterborough Squadron, comments, “Private Vickie Bracken has been the model candidate. Flying through both Army selection and Officer Selection, she has an extremely bright future ahead in 158 Regiment.”
“Life as a reservist has also had a positive impact on my teaching,” says Vickie. “I work in a mixed state school where more than 60 languages are spoken. Many of the students have never been exposed to military life and, particularly with the girls, they can see the positive impact it’s having on my life (and their lessons) and are keen to learn more. I have been inspired by many amazing women in the Army, for example Lt Col Lucy Giles; Sandhurst’s first female commander. I hope my journey inspires my students to take a leap into the unknown too. To try something new. To consider a career in the Army as they explore their GSCE, A Level and university options.”
Vickie is one of over 30,000 Reservists committing their spare time, balancing their day jobs and family life with a military career, to be ready to serve should their country need them.
To ensure that Reservists are understood and appreciated, the Ministry of Defence’s annual Reserves Day campaign encourages businesses to highlight the benefits of Reserve service to their workforce. Employers can take part in a number of ways, including inviting their reservist employees to wear their uniform to work on Wednesday 27th June.
Reserves Day 2018 is part of Armed Forces Week, culminating in a national Armed Forces Day event in Llandudno, North Wales on Saturday 30th June.