Spending 24 hours with 306 Hospital Support Regiment in Staffordshire on Saturday was one of the most humbling experiences of my life. The soldiers and officers are all fulltime NHS Consultants and Specialist Nurses who give up great chunks of their precious free time as reservists. They have been to Afghanistan, Iraq, Sierra Leone in the Ebola crisis, and this summer on NATO exercises in Poland.
Why was I there? To hand over the WCIB Leadership Award to Major Jo Horn. Links with the military are part of the history of livery companies and allow both sides a glimpse into the lessons and lives of very different communities.
On a lighter note, spending the night in barracks was an experience. My partner Charles and I chose to do so – to the amazement and amusement of the troops – but a mattress encased in rubber and communal showers are not to be repeated.
Do please welcome Commanding Officer Helen Singh OBE and Major Jo Horn when they come to our Annual Banquet. You will recognise them because their full dress kit is infinitely smarter than anything worn by us civilians!