Following on from signing an Armed Forces Covenant, we were invited to a tour of Catterick Garrison. Lt Colonel Andy Black, of the Royal Engineers, and Laura, one of his Captains looked after us.
First, we visited the 1st ITB. We 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.
Then, we visited the education training centre. 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.
After this, we had lunch and met with the Colonel of the REME. They arrived with 4 armed guards, in two Land Rovers. This was part of an exercise to simulate a high ranking officer - being protected in a hostile environment.
Following lunch, we met the team of 5 Med. They’re the medial corps that provide health support during conflicts and, outside of conflicts, providing relief and support in areas of deprivation. They were checking and packing their equipment, in readiness to deploy to Mali. We also saw the kit they use, including the ration packs they live on when away.
Nicole and Skye sat in an armoured vehicle – pretending to be the driver and commander. So, they were in their element!
Next, we moved onto resettlement, where we met with the team. We had great discussions about helping service men and women transition from the army into military life, and how we can support them and their families.
Catterick Garrison's Phoenix House
Our final visit was to Phoenix House, a rehab and recovery centre, which left us all speechless. The facilities and support here is outstanding! Many poorly service men and women arrive here, and leave in a much better place – both physically and mentally.
Also, they had award winning woodwork shop there! Rocking horses, cups, masks and even a long boat, were all carved from wood. Bob Marshall showed us the work - he could inspire ANYONE.
We really enjoyed the tour of Catterick Garrison! In the future, we are definitely going to do more activities with The Army. These will also include the care staff in the future.