Kelly Richardson scales new heights as a RAF Reservist

Kelly Richardson reservist scales new heightsKelly Richardson scales new heights as an RAF Reservist with 3 Tactical Police Squadron based at RAF Honington in Suffolk, despite already working for a mountain holidays company. 

Kelly doesn’t have the typical 9 to 5 desk job. Working for Collett’s Mountain Holidays, a Saffron Walden based company specialising in mountain holidays, she spends most of her time managing European resorts and developing new and exciting locations for the business.  “I love my civilian job but I had become quite settled and a bit too comfortable, and really needed a new challenge.”

“I wanted to spend my weekends doing something more meaningful.  I was also craving being surrounded by similar and like-minded people.”

“In the last twelve months, I’ve enjoyed a brilliant work-life balance, which I was really craving. My employer now has an extremely happy and motivated member of staff as a result. I am gaining skills and experience that I am, without doubt, applying and using in my civilian job.”

“I am currently working towards my Mountain Leader qualification, which I am gaining through the RAF.  An incredible opportunity and something that I hope to give back in the form of sharing these skills learned with new members in the future.” Having joined the RAF Mountaineering Association (RAFMA), Kelly has already attended a number of their meetings in parts of the Lake District, Scotland and Wales.

During 2018 the Royal Air Force is celebrating its 100th birthday. A mountaineering expedition to Nepal (Himalayan Venture 2018) is being organised in honour of the RAF celebrations, which will bring all of the RAF family together, with Air Cadets, University Air Squadrons, Regulars and Reserves all heading to the Himalayas for the month of September. “I am thrilled to have made it onto one of the teams. It has been quite an extensive selection process, with superbly organised training along the way. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and I really feel like I am part of something much bigger than myself, and that I would not have gained access to in the civilian world.”

With such a busy lifestyle, the inevitable question looms. How is it possible to balance Reservist life with work and personal commitments? “It’s not always easy but provided you manage your time correctly and communicate well with everyone involved, it is very achievable. The Reservist Phase 1 and 2 training is planned and split so that it is spread out over a number of months, so that you can fit work, life and holiday commitments around it. It feels comprehensive without being overwhelming.

They can also all really complement each other, and there is plenty of opportunity for your family to get involved with events taking place.”

In many ways, the RAF is close to Kelly’s heart. Her father was a long-term RAF Reservist as a gliding instructor and her fiancé is an RAF regular and officer with the Regiment. “My advice to anybody considering becoming a Reservist, is go for it! It can seem like quite an intimidating process at the beginning, with a whole new military language to learn (and a lot of acronyms!).  My biggest fear was not that the training process would be too intense for me, but that I was going to do something wrong or salute the wrong person.  This seems very daft now of course.  Everyone has been through exactly the same process in one way or another and every person I have met in my journey so far has been incredibly approachable, open and encouraging.”

Kelly 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.

Read more Reservists stories