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University flies the flag for Armed Forces on Reserves Day

Professor Catherine Harper with Joe Ayres

RESERVISTS have taken centre stage at the University of Chichester in celebration of their dedication and commitment to the Armed Forces.

The University saluted its service men and women, from its academic and professional service staff to students and volunteers, who balance their careers and studies with military duty. It is part of the national Reserves Day, which was held on Wednesday 27 June, to honour the often-overlooked contributions of the UK’s Armed Forces fighting across the world.

Speaking of the national celebrations, Deputy Vice-Chancellor Professor Catherine Harper, above left, recognised the valuable contribution that the Armed Forces make to the University. She added: “Reservists and veterans bring a variety of transferable skills such as leadership, team working, communication, and organisational ability, developed during military careers."

Naval Reservist Joe Ayres

Several of the University’s Reservists wore their uniform to work to celebrate their commitment to the Forces. Among those was Naval Reservist Joe Ayres, below, a University of Chichester graduate who now manages its student accommodation across both Bishop Otter and Bognor Regis campuses.

Outside of work, however, Able Seaman Ayres is responsible for protecting Her Majesty’s multibillion-pound fleet of warships. He said: “I wanted to do something rewarding with my life but still have the flexibility to continue my professional career. Joining the Reserves give you that opportunity, to develop your job and also push yourself in an entirely different world.”

Joe Ayres

Able Seaman Ayres was inspired to join the Navy after hearing the stories of his late grandfather, a World War Two veteran who protected Allied ships crossing the Artic: a voyage Churchill described as “the worst journey in the world”.Based at HMS King Alfred in Portsmouth, he has steadily progressed in the three years since he joined, benefiting from key skills learnt on duty.

“I feel more self-assured in both my civilian and military careers,” he added. “The whole ethos of military life is leadership and teamwork, skills that are as useful at sea as they are in the halls of residence at the University. Being a reservist gives me the opportunity to get involved in activities that I would only otherwise dream of doing.”

The University's community of Reservists also includes Chaplain Dr Alison Green who, as Chaplain in Sea Cadet Corps, is also a member of the Royal Naval Reserve.

Army Reservist Dr Sarah Needham-Beck

Prior to this year’s Reserves Day celebrations, the University pledged its support to the Armed Forces by signing the official Covenant, which guarantees its commitment to the men and women who have and continue to serve their country. As part of the ceremony the University was also awarded the Employer Recognition Scheme Bronze Award.

Present at the Covenant signing was the University’s Dr Sarah Needham-Beck, above, an Army Reservist with 71 (City of London) Yeomanry Signal Regiment. It is a role that tallies with her work as a Research Fellow in the Institute of Sport’s Occupational Performance Research Group (OPRG) which delivers scientific research and consultancy to enhance the selection, performance, protection and health of personnel working within physically demanding occupations, such as the military, emergency services and industry.

Dr Sarah Needham-Beck

“Being a reservist has certainly helped to build my confidence,” said Dr Needham-Beck, a communications specialist of 71 Signal Regiment. “It instils a mentality that you give your best effort in all that you do and feel self-assured that you are making the correct decision.

“Reservists come from all walks of life, so I have met many, diverse, and interesting people during my service. There’s a specific type of teamwork that the Armed Forces builds: we rely on one another and draw on everyone’s individual strengths.”

Naval Reservist Scott Finch

The Reserve Forces are represented across all three services and make up approximately one sixth of the UK’s Armed Forces personnel. As such they protect the nation’s security at home and overseas, and are currently supporting operations worldwide including in Afghanistan, Northern Iraq, Cyprus, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Naval reservist Scott Finch, above, who has worked at the University for nine years, takes great pride in his role as a reservist of Britain’s oldest military service. Akin to Able Seamen Ayres, he is located at HMS King Alfred at Whale Island in Portsmouth, which has operated since 1869.

“There is a lot of history in the Navy and it’s a great honour to represent your country,” said Scott, a Conference and Accommodation Officer at the University of Chichester. “It’s also not every day that you get to work on a warship.”

Able Seaman Finch joined to the Naval Reserves less than two years ago but is already in line for deployment across the world, having passed his sea-survival training. He has been able to use many of those qualities in his role at Chichester.

Scott Finch

“In the Navy you have to work together as a unit or you won’t succeed and, since I became a Reservist, I’ve learnt a lot about team ethic and leadership. These are key skills that I use day-in, day-out at Chichester, and are particularly important when supporting our students.

“I’ve made a lot of close friends in the short time that I’ve been a Reservist. Most importantly I’ve found something that I love doing in my spare time that not only compliments but is helping to build my full-time career at the University.”

Find out more

To find out more about how the University of Chichester supports its employees who are volunteers, veterans, ex-Armed Forces personnel go to www.chi.ac.uk/about-us. Alternately for more about the University’s commitment to the Armed Forces Covenant go to www.chi.ac.uk/news/armed-forces-honour-university-chichester.