The Army needs new recruits – and self-employed Gloucester painter and decorator Matt Gardiner, aged 27, is helping boost numbers on two fronts.
Assisting with recruitment is just one of his roles as a Lance Corporal with the Territorial Army’s Cirencester-based Squadron of the Royal Wessex Yeomanry.
In Gloucester, he is also employed part-time as a Territorial Army Liaison Officer (TALO), which involves talking to potential recruits for the Regular Army and TA.
Matt, a former pupil of Thomas Keble School, Eastcombe, Stroud, joined up in 2003. “Originally, I was going to opt for the Regulars, but my Mum suggested I try the TA first of all to see how I liked it – and I’ve been here ever since!”
His career has featured two deployments to Iraq. The Yeomanry trains replacement crews for the Challenger 2 battle tank and Matt is a qualified gunner, taking part in a recent live-firing exercise in Dorset. He is also a team medic.
The Cirencester Squadron, which proudly carries the historic name of its famous predecessor, the Gloucestershire Royal Hussars, is currently much in demand, with nine personnel on deployment to Afghanistan.
It means that recruitment is a top priority. Captain Tony Smith, the Permanent Staff Administrative Officer, explained: “We are providing support for the King’s Royal Hussars, based in Tidworth, Wiltshire, and expect the demand for our personnel to be ongoing.
“One of the difficulties at the moment is that deployment has taken away quite a core element of our strength. We have 70 on the books but would happily double that number. In addition to training drivers, gunners and loaders for Challenger 2, we need men and women as medics, drivers, clerks and chefs.”
For information about the unit, call 01285 648351 or email RWXY-CSQN-PSAO@mod.uk.
To learn more about reserve service in the South West, contact Wessex Reserve Forces’ & Cadets’ Association on 01823 254571 or log on to www.wessex-rfca.org.uk.