Why volunteer soldier is proud to be part of the Army Reserve

For volunteer soldier Cpl Matt Henley joining the Army Reserve was one of the best decisions he ever made.

Cpl Matt Henley
Cpl Matt Henley

He was recruited seven years ago and serves alongside his day job as a television researcher.

The country will celebrate his contribution and that of others like him who are balancing their civilian life with a military career tomorrow which is Reserves Day.

Formerly known as ‘Uniform to Work Day’, it also falls during Armed Forces Week.

Cpl Henley, aged 26, joined the Army Reserve in April 2010, originally to a Royal Artillery unit in Wolverhampton where he underwent his basic training and proceeded to qualify in an air defence role.

Seeking a new challenge, in 2015 he transferred to B Squadron of The Royal Yeomanry, based in Dudley, and later became a vehicle commander.

Last year's Armed Forces Day at Himley

During the past seven years, he has carried out many duties including being deployed to Afghanistan for six months where he was employed as an ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) Detachment Commander.

He has also been deployed on overseas training exercises to Slovenia and the Falkland Islands in recent years.

While in his civilian life he works in television production and is employed as a researcher for North One Television in Birmingham.He currently works on Channel 5’s The Gadget Show and has also worked on Speed With Guy Martin and Guy Martin’s Wall of Death Live for Channel 4.

Cpl Henley, who lives in Great Barr, said he had been involved in the army cadets while at secondary school but had decided against a career in the Army.

But a call out of the blue from former instructor led to him attending an open day for the Army Reserve.

"It's the best of both worlds because you can maintain a civilian career while undertaking military training," said Cpl Henley.

Last year's Armed Forces Day at Himley

He added that it teaches many skills that are useful outside of the military such as problem solving, self-confidence and staying calm under pressure.

"At work some people might be struggling under pressure but I am able to keep a cool head and react to things calmly," Cpl Henley said.

All of the Reservists attend a weekly drill night at the base at Vicar Street, Dudley, which cover everything from fitness training to first aid.

The Army Reserve Centre will be throwing open its doors on Reserves Day, which falls during Armed Forces Week.

Between 7pm and 8pm on Wednesday, the squadron will be welcoming anyone who would like to see the vehicles, weapons and equipment as well as meet the Reservists.

Last year's Armed Forces Day at Himley

Cpt Andy Peters from B Squadron, said: “Reserves Day is an extremely important event for us during Armed Forces Week, it’s not only an opportunity for our soldiers to feel very proud of the contribution that they make to the local community and to their country but it’s also a chance to show the general public who we are and what our volunteers can do. If anyone would like to come along then we would be delighted to see them."

Meanwhile Dudley Council’s Armed Forces Day,will be held at Himley Hall and Park on Sunday. Alongside the presentation of badges to veterans, highlights of this year’s event include the Land Girls Victory Show, the Beating Retreat, a youth marching band competition, a display of historic military vehicles and children’s entertainment including a gladiator themed army dual and bungee run.

For more information about the Army Reserve Centre open event call 01384 230166.

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