Armed Forces Day started out in 2006 as Veterans Day to ensure the contribution of veterans was never forgotten.
In 2009, the name was changed, to include appreciation for those on active duty. It was always held on a Saturday, and the preceding Sunday was dubbed “Wear your uniform to work Day” so that reservists could also be celebrated. Over the years, the campaign evolved and it has grown to include huge events, with cities competing to host the televised national Armed Forces Day event.
This year again, because physical Armed Forces Day events have been cancelled for the public health, the organisers have expanded the campaign by several days to an Armed Forces Week, so the public can still get involved online.
Each day has been given a theme, reflecting a segment of the Armed Forces community, for the public to celebrate their unique contribution:
Monday 21st June celebrates the launch of Armed Forces Week and Armed Forces around the globe with organisations everywhere raising the Armed Forces Day flag. Tuesday celebrates the Cadet Forces, Wednesday celebrates the Reserve Forces, Thursday celebrates the Armed Forces Covenant, Friday is for veterans and Saturday 26th June is the culmination with Armed Forces Day.
Find out more at armedforcesday.org.uk
The key things to remember about Armed Forces Week are:
Armed Forces Week allows the Armed Forces to inform the public about who they are, what they do, and how they support the nation. You can find out about reservists in East Anglia and their work by reading our case studies.
Armed Forces Week is an occasion for the public to celebrate key aspects of the Armed Forces. The campaign, led by the Ministry of Defence, serves to remind the UK public that the Armed Forces keeps Britain safe and protects our interests both at home and overseas. Armed Forces Week is also an opportunity to celebrate inclusion and diversity in the Armed Forces, amongst service personnel, reserves, veterans, cadets and families.
To get involved in the campaign this year, individuals and organisations can use #ArmedForcesDay, #ArmedForcesWeek and #SaluteOurForces and mention @ArmedForcesDay. For more information, go to the Armed Forces Day website.
What does East Anglia RFCA do in support of Armed Forces Week?
Promoting the Reserves Day campaign for the Ministry of Defence
As well as interviewing real reservists in East Anglia, and giving advice and assistance to organisations on how they can get involved with Reserves Day, we amplify the contribution of our brilliant reservists online on Facebook and Twitter, so that as many people as possible can be inspired to support Reserves Day in the way that's right for them. Last year during Armed Forces week, our posts were seen 30 thousand times online.
Working with our partners
We support local authorities, reserve units and employers to plan their Reserves Day activities.
Last year, we helped organise an event in Hadleigh Suffolk. We highlight the efforts of employers like this small Hertfordshire-based agency and this family-owned transport business that create advocacy for Armed Fores Day. We created a guide for employers with lots of resources to help people take part in Reserves Day. And we shared their posts on social media to our strong network of members and supporters, who help us nurture the positive sentiment for Reserve Fores and Cadet Forces in the region.
Sharing real reservist stories
We introduce you to real people in the Reserve Forces in East Anglia. Last year, we met 5 reservists who each have a story to tell about what being in the Reserve Forces means for them, and you can read the stories of reservists we've met over the years here too. This is our way of showing appreciation for their Service, and it helps to dispel some of the misconceptions around the Reserve Forces.
Reserves Day 2021 is a chance to recognise and appreciate the integral part that Reservists play in the UK’s Defence capability.
32,240 Reservists are 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.
Reserves Day started out as “Wear your uniform to work Day”, so that employers could start to recognise and appreciate the benefits that employing reservists bring to their organisation. In 2015, the campaign evolved into Reserves Day and moved to a different time of year to coincide with Armed Forces Day. Reserves Day is celebrated on the Wednesday before Armed Forces Day. This year, Reserves Day is on Wednesday 23rd June.
What can the public and businesses do in support of Armed Forces Week?
Publish an article about what Reserves Day means to you
You could write about a colleague who is a reservist for an intranet article at work. Perhaps include a feature and image from the Armed Forces Day website in your supplier newsletter. You could email a press release about your support for Reserves Day to your local paper. You could request a post for your company's blog.
Your actions on Reserves Day shows you value the contribution of the Reserve Forces in keeping Britain safe.
Real reservists in East Anglia
Read all past and presents stories about reservists we've met in East Anglia.
Meet Babatunde, a Police Inspector for British Transport Police and an Army reservist with 101 Engineer Regiment.
For over 20 years, Babatunde has served his country as an Army Reservist including two tours of Afghanistan and worked as a Police Officer for 16 years.
He joined the Army Reserves whilst studying at university. Babatunde says, “At the time, it appealed to me as a great opportunity to get fit and do something meaningful at the same time.” That certainly became a reality in 2008 when he was deployed on Op Herrick in Afghanistan and again in 2010. Babatunde is a member of 101 Engineer Regiment, 217 Field Squadron, which is an Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) and Search trained squadron who enable a greater capability for the Regular Army for UK based and foreign taskings.
“I was mobilised on Op Herrick 8 as an EOD operator No. 3 in the summer of 2008. This was a kinetic tour where I was involved in varied roles from EOD, Search, Incident Response Team (IRT), forensic investigation/ recovery with Weapon Intelligence Specialist (WIS) and infantry escort for both road and foot moves. One of the tour highlights included being part of a 2-week road move as the flanking EOD support team escorting hydro turbines, taking off from Lashkar Gah and across the dessert to the Kajaki Dam.
“The great thing about the Reserves is you keep moving forward, gaining more skills. I went on to complete the EOD 804 course and IEDD (Improvised Explosive Device Destruct) training, mobilising again in 2010 for Herrick 12 as an EOD No.2 in an IEDD Team. This tour was a mixture of kinetic ops and the delivery of EOD awareness training to UK and coalition call signs.
“Both of these experiences were incredibly motivating and the momentum continues. Most recently, I was the Squadron Quarter Master for my unit. This is the administrative function which ensures the unit has the required materials and logistics input to function. For my next adventure, I’m about to start as an Instructor at the University of London Officers’ Training Corps.”
Impressively, this Army career has co-existed with Babatunde’s role within the British Transport Police. Recently promoted to Inspector, Babatunde says, “My Reserves training has provided me with exceptional leadership skills, which I believe is beneficial for my role as a Police Officer. The officers under my command and the public which we serve benefit from this ethical leadership.”
At times, it’s challenging to navigate shift patterns and to balance working weekends with training weekends, but the British Transport Police support their Reserves well, permitting an additional 10 days annual leave to fulfil mandatory Army training.
Babatunde certainly has no regrets about becoming a Reservist. “Every experience has been beneficial in moulding my core values. I would say anyone joining the Reserves should do so with an open mind and take learning from the experience. It is an opportunity to instil some discipline in yourself which will radiate to those you come in contact with.”
Meet Gary, owner of Thirteen UK Ltd and an RAF reservist with No3 Tactical Police Squadron.
“It’s never too late!” says 47 year old Gary Forder. “When I was younger I didn’t take an opportunity that was given to me. Instead, life took several different paths until in my mid-30s, I saw a poster for the RAF Reserves and the age limit to join was 55. I thought, it’s now or never, so I made a call and here I am nine years later!”
Usually based at RAF Honington, Gary is with the RAF Police Reserves, No3 Tactical Police Squadron. This particular squadron has numerous capabilities from dog handling to specialist investigations, and as well as being involved with day-to-day general policing duties on the station they deploy personnel across the globe to carry out these tasks.
Gary’s attentions have been much closer to home during the past year. Over the years, he’s served with the unit in various locations across the world carrying out Air Transport Security (ATSy) but he’s currently on an extended mobilisation in response to the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Since April 2020 he’s been posted to various locations as part of Operation Rescript; the British military’s response to help tackle the ongoing Covid-19 crisis. Gary says, “I mobilised in Apr 20 initially for six months in support of operations at RAF Henlow where they were offering front line support to Covid-19 victims. From there, I was re-tasked to operate and help run Mobile Testing Units in the East of England where we carried out Covid-19 tests for the general public. Following that, I moved from RAF Henlow to RAF Brize Norton in response to a need for extra trained personnel to assist with the ever evolving ATSy taskings critical to the supply and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines globally. I was given the opportunity to extend my mobilisation to 12 months and then again to 18 months working at RAF Brize Norton which will see me up until Sept 21.”
Away from his life with the RAF Reserves, Gary runs his own business Thirteen (UK) Ltd. “Being a Reservist has made me focus on my own commitment to my civilian life and business in terms of discipline and self-motivation. It has also made me feel much more responsible and confident in my abilities to make some tougher decisions in life and at work. Without a doubt the planning and execution of certain Reserve tasks has helped me to identify what’s important, what takes priority and what can wait.”
Gary’s also incredibly lucky to have a supportive family behind him. “When I first joined up my wife was quite reluctant about this new life I was entering into. I think she thought it was another of my mad cap ideas and a phase I would grow out of. Fortunately, over the years she has seen how much I enjoy being a Reservist and has seen the benefits it brings to me and to the family. During the past 12 months she has been an absolute rock and I wouldn’t be able to do any of this without her solid support and understanding. That can also be said for my son, who at times finds it difficult when I’m away from home for extended periods but fully understands. I think he quite likes telling his friends at school about my adventures. But without doubt the happiest to see me home is our family dog. It doesn’t matter if I’ve been away 24hrs, a week or a month or come home at 4am, she is so excited when I get home!”
“Finding a balance between my Reservist role, work and personal commitments is a tricky thing to explain. You are always involved with the Reserves whether it be attending a training weekend or being mobilised for 12 months, down to a simple task such as responding to an email or having a conversation with friends. It’s always there and a big part of your life, so it sort of blends into everyday life for me. I can switch between my personal life, work life and military life quite easily. I don’t try to segregate them, I just try to be disciplined. Being a Reservist is much much more than just a weekend hobby. It literally is part of your life.”
“My advice to anybody thinking about joining the Reserves is: you will get out of it what you put in, and don’t expect it to be all glitz and glamour. You’ll have times when you question why you’re doing it. When it’s silly o’clock in the morning and you’re freezing cold, you keep saying to yourself, ‘I volunteered to do this?’ Be patient and persevere. Look out for the opportunities and you will have a fantastic time. You will go places, do things and see things that you just would not have the opportunity to do as a civilian. You will develop and learn new skills and you will grow in confidence and gain qualities you didn’t know you had. You will change as a person and come away feeling like you have done something worthwhile. And the best part is, they will pay you for the pleasure.”
Meet Shaquille, 27, a Suffolk firefighter and an Army reservist with the Royal Logistic Corps.
27 year old, Ipswich-based Shaquille Goldsmith is used to life in uniform. As a teenager, he joined Suffolk Army Cadet Force, working his way up to Cadet Sergeant Major. From there, he spent two years volunteering as an Adult Instructor; inspiring other teens to take advantage of the wonderful opportunities cadet life has to offer.
Supporting others has always been high on Shaquille’s agenda. Whilst working as a Police Community Support Officer, he didn’t want to leave the Police and join the Army full time, so he decided to pursue the perfect balance of exploring his career options alongside becoming an Army Reservist.
As a Cadet with Suffolk ACF, Shaquille witnessed first-hand, at Ipswich Army Reserve Centre, the activities 158 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps were involved in. He was instantly drawn to applying for a role with the transport regiment. At 21 years old, he started his basic training, which he laughingly says, “was short and sweet. I loved every minute of it and it made me hungry for more!”
Private Goldsmith is now and experienced driver with 202 Squadron, having achieved his driver’s licence, Cat C (heavy goods), C+E (heavy goods plus trailer) and Coach license. All of this was funded by the Army and undertaken during Army training hours.
These skills developed in the Army Reserve have benefitted his employer, Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service. In recent months, his watch became short on drivers and Shaquille was able to step in and utilise his Army driving skills. Shaquille feels his approach to work tasks has become increasingly methodical and proactive, allowing him to carry out his Firefighter duties to a high standard.
Dave Collins, Acting Deputy Chief Fire Officer, says “We value our close relationship with MOD colleagues and are keen to continue supporting the Army Reserve wherever we can. There are many transferable skills that create a greater understanding of each other’s roles. It is brilliant to see Shaquille and both Services benefiting from this. Throughout the recruitment process and since Shaquille has been with us, he has demonstrated compassion, sound values, commitment, and a real willingness to develop, including already attending his first course in operational leadership. Going forward we will continue to support Shaquille in both roles, confident he will continue to be a great asset to both SFRS and the Army Reserve."
Suffolk Fire and Rescue are an incredibly supportive employer permitting Reserves to take an additional two weeks annual leave to fulfil their Reservist training. Much is always made of the iron triangle – the regular job, the reserve role and family life but Shaquille’s Watch and Crew Commander helps him to navigate his shift patterns and balance all of his commitments with ease.
As both a Fire Fighter and Soldier, Shaquille’s motivation is to try and be the best; at his career, protecting others and serving his country.
Meet Natasha, an NHS Dietitian who can refuel and rearm Apache helicopters.
For the past 12 years, Natasha has worked as an Advanced Specialist Dietitian, within the haematology department for Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Based at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, she provides nutrition support, via oral intake, feeding tube or feeding into the blood stream for people with blood disorders/cancers, who are undergoing chemotherapy, radiotherapy or stem cell transplant.
Natasha says, “It’s an emotionally demanding role but an incredibly rewarding job. I decided to join the Army Reserve six years ago for a new challenge and to help me develop a new skills set. My additional career within the military has helped me to manage the emotional part of my civilian job. Tough days are easier to get through. It’s also enhanced my leadership skills. As part of my role, I provide training to nursing staff as well as junior doctors and consultants, both in my trust and regionally.”
Weekends look very different for Natasha. She’s a Corporal with 677 Squadron 6 Army Air Corps, working with Apache and support helicopters. “I’m a qualified Arming Loading Point Commander (ALPC). This role enables me to command the team to refuel and rearm the Apache helicopters. We have opportunities to work alongside our regular counterparts on live exercises, both in the UK and abroad.”
A highlight for Natasha was deploying with a regular unit to Arizona to work as an ALPC and support pilots training across different terrains. “It was a bit daunting at first but we developed a good working rapport and performed our refuelling and rearming of the helicopters to allow the pilots to achieve their training objectives. It’s not all work and no play though! We also had some downtime and as an arming team, ventured out to explore the surrounding area; including a Grand Canyon tour and watching an Ice Hockey match.”
Fortunately Natasha’s employer is incredibly supportive. As an Employer Recognition Scheme Silver Award holder, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust offers an additional 10 days leave so she can fulfil mandatory training. “My manager is supportive of my military commitments and allows movement of leave to accomplish courses. They supported me to be able to take six weeks off to complete training in Arizona.”
Natasha’s advice to anyone considering joining the Reserves is, “If it’s something that interests you, visit local units to see what happens and find out the level of commitment you can give. It is an invaluable experience, the camaraderie, the additional skills you gain and qualifications you can use in civilian life are worth the initial training. It can be demanding at times but worth the achievements.”
Key Facts about the Reserve Forces
Who can be in the Reserve Forces?
A reservist is a man or woman who dedicates their spare time to training in the Reserve Forces whilst pursuing a civilian career.
Reservists attend training on a part-time basis, usually during evenings and weekends at a dedicated training centre, and for around two weeks each year at an Annual Camp which runs in another part of the UK or abroad.
Why does the UK Armed Forces need the Reserve Forces?
Reservists play an extremely important role in the Nation’s Defence. Reserves Forces 2030 is an independent review that makes recommendations to the Chief of Defence Staff to maximise the skills of the Reserves Forces to support wider society, and establish better collaboration with businesses, government and the private sector in order to help with cost, skills and expertise sharing.
The intention is still aligned with the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2010, which identified the changes needed to the Armed Forces in order to maintain capacity and specialists while reducing the size of the Regular Forces and help manage spending in the Ministry of Defence.
In 2018 the Defence Secretary launched the Modernising Defence Programme, a spin-off of the Strategic Defence and Security Review of 2015 (SDSR15) in response to evolved international threats. The Cabinet Office released the second SDSR 15 Review with the National Security Capability Review in the same year. The latter included clear targets for the number of Reservists, Cadets and modifications to the Defence Estate, while the former included considerations for attracting Reservists who hold specialist skills developed in the private sector and the corresponding importance of building relationships with business.
The Defence Command Paper 2021 further shapes plans to modernise the Armed Forces and reinforces the plans for Reserve Forces to play an ever-increasing role in UK Defence capability.
How many people are in the Reserve Forces?
At April 2021, there were 32,700 personnel in the Reserve Forces across the three Services, including all those serving on the various commitment types outlined above. Source: Quarterly Service Personnel statistics April 2021 on gov.uk
In East Anglia, there are roughly about 2,500 reservists training on our counties, with some people living in East Anglia but travelling outside the region to train in a unit of their choice (For example, the Military Working Dogs unit in Rutland).
Where are the Reserve Forces in East Anglia?
There are 14 Army Reserve Centres in East Anglia, 1 Royal Naval Reserve unit and 1 Royal Marine Reserve unit, and a few RAF Reserve unit locations. There are 41 different groups (units, squadrons, troops, flights, detachments, companies, platoons) based in East Anglia. See them on our map.