Businessmen and women take on challenge of being an Army reserve

Managers swap office for great outdoors for military-style challenge in Northumberland

Sgt Paul Morrison Army Photographer Around 56 businessmen and women from all over the North East took their courage in both hands and joined the Reserve Forces for a unique course in leadershi in Otterburn
Around 56 businessmen and women from all over the North East took their courage in both hands and joined the Reserve Forces for a unique course in leadershi in Otterburn

Business people from across the North East rescued a downed pilot, treated casualties and sent signals using flags in a taste of life in the forces.

Men and women swapped the boardroom for the great outdoors and joined the Reserve Forces for a unique course in leadership, management and team building in Otterburn, Northumberland.

Exercise “Executive Stretch” uses a practical, hands on approach to mission analysis, problem-solving and management.

They lived on military 24-hour ration packs, built temporary shelters and slept out under the stars.

Michael Greeves, 31, from Gosforth, Newcastle, was one of those taking part.

“I have really enjoyed the exercise and have done things I didn’t think I could do such as sleeping outside in a basher and living on ration packs,” said Michael, a supplies officer for Gateshead Council. “I have realised that not only can I manage a team for tasks that we haven’t done before but also manage a team of strangers to complete them under pressure.”

Ross Bainbridge, 34, also from Gosforth, is head of IT service management for Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. He said: “I work in a leadership role and Executive Stretch emphasises the leadership skills and the importance of keeping the team working together is what I will take away from the event.”

Michelle Charlton, 34, from Bedlington, Northumberland, a network support officer for Northern Gas Networks, said: “I enjoyed the medical task which was very realistic and made you think about what the military have to go through. “The worst bit was sleeping outside last night in some woods.”

Her colleague Maria Curran, 51, from Hexham, said: “I appreciate more what the Reserves do. It is not just a weekend exercise.

“Training is very serious and the calibre is high.”

The participants from over 19 companies, councils and health trusts were cheered on by their employers who visited the exercise.

Exercise “Executive Stretch” was organised by 5th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers based in Durham, assisted by other units from the region as well as the Royal Naval Reserves and the Royal Air Force Reserve. The whole event was organised by the North of England Reserve Forces and Cadets Association (RFCA)

Colonel Jonny Hackett, chief executive of the North of England RFCA, said: “Exercise Executive Stretch fosters an understanding of reservist training and the skills they acquire which can be transferred to their civilian workplace.”

For more information about the Reserve forces log on to www.rfca-ne.org.uk .

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