To develop and continue our relationship with the British Army through the Armed Forces Covenant we signed, we were invited to a VIP tour of Catterick Garrison where we were looked after Lt Colonel Andy Black of the Royal Engineers and Laura, one of his Captains.
We firstly visited the 1st ITB and were invited into the DTCC (armoury and firing range) where we shot real weapons in a simulated environment (and yes Nicole has the best shot groupings and is waiting for a certificate from The Army).
We then visited the education training centre where Major Sarah talked us through the simple to complex training they deliver to all ranks in the Army (up to Lt Colonel) around the world. Her and the team were getting ready to deploy into Israel to support the Israeli defence forces to check and develop their training.
We then had lunch and met with the Colonel of the REME who arrived with 4 armed guards in two Land Rovers, as part of an exercise to simulate a high ranking officer being protected in a hostile environment.
After lunch we met the team of 5 Med - the medical corps that provide health support during conflicts and, outside of conflicts, providing relief and support in areas of deprivation. They were just checking and packing all of their equipment in readiness to deploy to Mali next week. Nicole and Skye got to try sitting in an armoured vehicle where they pretended to be the driver and commander. They were in their element. We also saw the kit they use including the ration packs they live on when away.
After that we moved on to resettlement, met with the team and had great discussions about helping service men and women transition from the army into military life and what we can do to support them and their families.
Our final visit was to Phoenix House which is a rehab and recovery centre which left us all speechless. The amazing facilities and the support that is given here is outstanding. There are some very poorly service Men and women that arrive here and leave in a much better place both physically and mentally. They even have a an award winning woodwork shop where things like rocking horses, cups, masks and even a long boat are carved from wood. Bob Marshall showed us the work. This guy could inspire ANYONE.
We are going to do more activities with the Army which will also include the care staff in the future.