The tough, experienced Bristol-based infantry Reservists of 6 RIFLES are used to being given a hard time by physical training instructor Jessica Pike during their regular fitness sessions.
As the only qualified Physical Training Instructor (PTI) in the A Company detachment, based at HMS Flying Fox, Winterstoke Road, the 25-year-old Private from Long Ashton takes charge of everything from basic gym work to leading an eight-mile yomp carrying full kit.
Many of the Reservists have years of Army service behind them but this has never fazed Jessica. “They’re great,” she said. “They have known me for a while now and give me plenty of respect.”
Jessica was born and brought up in Chipping Sodbury, where she attended the local Secondary School before gaining a Higher National Diploma in outdoor activities at the University of South Wales in Newport.
After enjoying everything the area had to offer from kayaking to caving, Jessica admits she became “bored”.
Even joining Chipping Sodbury Ladies rugby team, where she is now one of the leading try scorers, wasn’t enough. So, four years ago, she joined the Army Reserve (formerly the Territorial Army) and began qualifying as a medic serving with 6 RIFLES.
“I have loved every minute of it,” she continued. “It’s like one big family here. I was actually quite shy at the start but Army service has made all the difference to my confidence.
“My big ambition now is to deploy on operations at some point. There is not a lot of point in committing to Army training if you’re not prepared to do that.”
Meanwhile, all talk at Tuesday evening’s training session at the Flying Fox is about Jessica’s appearance on the Channel 4 game show, Deal or No Deal, due to be screened soon. And her team can’t wait to see how she got on.
In civilian life, Jessica is on the security staff at Bristol University.
A Company, 6 RIFLES, is currently recruiting. For more information call 01452 523132, Extension 8253, or to find out about opportunities as an Army reservist visit www.army.mod.uk/join/20237.aspx.
Under proposals announced in July by The Secretary of State for Defence, the Territorial Army is being renamed the Army Reserve. With £1.8bn investment in better training and better equipment, it is planned to expand to 30,000 trained reservists by 2018.
Enhanced conditions for Reservists include the introduction of paid annual leave and pension entitlements during training and operations, plus better access to defence health services and training. Employers will be given £500 per month per reservist when mobilised, in addition to existing help such as with the cost of advertising for replacements.