Army Reserve returns to Romford

Potential new recruits attend the Army Recruiting Centre, London Road, opening day last Tuesday

Potential new recruits attend the Army Recruiting Centre, London Road, opening day last Tuesday - Credit: Archant

The Army Reserve has marched back to Romford after identifying the town as an ideal site for recruitment.

The 68 Signal Squadron, which provides secure communications networks when national disasters occur, is forming a new troop, based at the former reservist site in the Army Recruiting Centre, London Road.

Capt Ted Pryke, of the 71st (City of London) Yeomanry Signal Regiment, overseeing recruitment to the new troop, explained this is part of a nationwide effort – called Operation Fortify – to increase the number of Army reserves to 30,000 by April 2018.

“The Romford site is a good location and right for our recruitment efforts,” he said.

“People here are accepting of the military and soldiers have been recruited from the area previously.”

Capt Pryke went to Romford Market on Saturday with reservists to spread the word about the Armed Forces being back in town.

“A lot of former soldiers came up to us to have a chat – they were happy the Army Reserve is back in Romford,” he said.

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“The public were very supportive.”

On Tuesday, young people from across the borough attended the new troop’s open evening to learn about the opportunities on offer.

Among them were Jack Clarke, 17, of Romford, an Army Cadet studying public services at Havering College, Ardleigh Green.

He said he attended to gain an insight into the life of a reservist.

The newly-appointed troop commander, 2nd Lt Jade Haron, 24, who teaches business and economics at The Warren School, Chadwell Heath, is keen to put it all together.

A former Army Cadet, she joined the University Officer Training Corps (UOTC) and served with a regular Army signal regiment in Germany for a year.

“I bit the ‘green bullet’ as an Army Cadet – I really enjoy the whole experience and family atmosphere,” she said.

“It was amazing and such a great experience.

“I am now teaching and enjoying combining both my full-time career and my role as Royal Signals Officer in the Army Reserve and being the new troop commander here at Romford.”

The troop will be made up of one officer and 30 soldiers and is part of four squadrons, which make up the London-based reserve regiment of 300 soldiers.

An officer and 10 new recruits are already on site, but at least 20 more reservists are needed.

Being a reservist is a part-time paid job and soldiers commit to work at least 27 days in a year – with the possibility of working longer hours.

Applicants need to be between 18 and 50 when in the troop and do not need to have any previous experience in the Armed Forces.

After a successful application, an interview and a medical test, they will receive full military training, which teaches recruits how to march, shoot and operate weapons and communications equipment.

But because of the nature of the work of the 68 Signal Squadron, Capt Pryke said people with IT and communications skills will be welcomed.

He said reservists are from all walks of life – from single parents, to people who are fully employed and students.

“The thing about the reserve is that you can [continue with] your own civilian activities alongside your reserve commitment.”

In the past, soldiers from the 71st Signal Regiment joined operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.

Anyone interested in joining can contact Capt Pryke at 71sig-jobs@mod.uk or by visiting the troop’s headquarters in 312 London Road, Romford.

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