My name is Natalie Cullis, I am an army reservist with 237 squadron 159 RLC Supply regiment, based in West Bromwich. I have been with the regiment since 2014. In my civilian employment I am an Access Liaison Officer for Sandwell MBC based within the Gas Department. In my civilian role I proactively engage and liaise with tenants and support networks so that access is granted into properties in order for the annual gas safety inspection and service to be completed, providing tenants with peace of mind that the gas appliances they are operating are safe to use by themselves and members of their household.
During my time with 159 regiment I have embarked on a variety of different training ranging from overseas adventure training to team leading promotion courses. A few of my achievements consist of; completing my basic soldier training, completing the JNCO CLM promotion course, completing an instructor course in Battlefield Casualty Drills and Basic Life Support, obtaining my CAT C & D (HGV & minibus) driving licences and learning how to ski.
Being a reservist has given me the opportunity to enhance my own personal skill set as well as experience opportunities that I wouldn’t have necessary experienced had I not have been a reservist. The army reserves very much encourage self discipline, working together as part of a team, utilising individual strengths, maintaining endurance and resilience.
They also actively encourage self growth and individual development whereby soldiers are able to complete courses outside military training establishments, for example, last year, I completed a lifeguard course with Sandwell Leisure Trust for my own personal growth as well as obtaining a skill that can be applied within my military career. I chose to enrol on a course using my local community leisure centre within the Sandwell borough.
Being in the army reserves also offers opportunity to attach and work alongside our regular counterparts. I completed my JNCO CLM promotion course back in 2017 with a regular unit – 6 regiment. Some other members of 159 regiment are currently mobilised as a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic whereby some are stationed at testing stations across the country, positioned as marshals allocating vehicles to testing bays and issuing testing kits so that they can administer the COVID-19 test. Before being deployed they received the relevant training and were issued with the necessary PPE. It appears there are a lot more females than males are attending the centres for testing, despite government statistics reflecting that more males than females are losing their lives to COVID19 disease. This is a clear reminder to all of us that this disease does not discriminate and that it’s important that we follow government guidance and get tested if required.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, we are currently unable to travel to the Army Reserve Centre so our military training is being conducted online through the virtual world. We are engaging as a regiment in a variety of training, some of which consist of PTI lead virtual exercise sessions, online presentations on Mental Health and Wellbeing as well as trade specific virtual training lessons. Embracing the virtual training environment allows us all to remain engaged with each other through these unprecedented times as well as still being able to participate in valuable military training.