An Ilkeston reservist wore his military uniform to work this week to raise awareness about the reserve forces in the local area.
Able Seaman Richard Cooke, 28, who lives in Ilkeston, joined HMS Sherwood, the East Midlands’ only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit, in 2009 and never looked back.
Richard explained that although he recently moved jobs, his new employer has been very supportive of his RNR commitments to date.
He said: “I previously worked as a primary teaching assistant working with children who had special needs, but recently began working at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.
“One of the reasons I wanted to take part in Reserves Day (June 24) this year was to raise awareness about what being a reservist really means.
“I’m proud to serve my country on a part-time basis and embraced the opportunity to tell my colleagues more about my reserve role. I think a lot of my training and activities often go by unseen as they often happen behind closed doors.”
Explaining that he feels a sense of purpose as a reservist, Richard said: “It is fantastic to think that I am doing something worthwhile in my spare time and have the opportunity to visit locations around the world in support of our defence efforts. I was recently deployed to Cadiz in Spain as part of a military exercise in support of an anti-piracy project.
“It was my job to liaise with harbour masters, ships visiting the area and the general shipping community to develop relationships and ensure that the ships got through the area in the most efficient way.”
Richard currently has two part-time jobs at Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust. He works within the HR team as a recruiting and resourcing administer and also as a family support worker.
He added: “Some of my other proudest moments at HMS Sherwood include when I helped with security in the London 2012 Olympics and when I took part in Her Majesty The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. My family have always supported me so I like to be able to repay them by inviting them along to prestigious events I am involved in with.”
Reserves Day was one of a series of events leading up to Armed Forces Day this Saturday (June 27).