Grangemouth’s Angus keeps adventure in reserve

Angus Robertson at the Royal Navy dockyard in Rosyth
Angus Robertson at the Royal Navy dockyard in Rosyth

If you’re looking for some adventure in your spare time the Royal Navy could be the calling you’ve been waiting for.

As you get older it’s easy to feel that youthful exploits are behind you and it’s too late to do anything about it, bogged down with the pressures of work and family and everything else life throws at you.

Angus Robertson, from Grangemouth, has been in the Royal Naval Reserves for 23 years after joining in 1990 when he was 27 and has since gone on to take part in a massive range of historic events and navy operations at home and abroad.

In his day job Angus drives a forklift for a timber firm in his home town, but one night a week he goes to HMS Scotia at the Navy dockyard in Rosyth, a trip that gets his juices flowing.

Angus said: “It certainly keeps you on your toes and is an interesting way of experiencing new things outside of my normal life.

“I’ve served on a few of the Navy’s ships like HMS Penzance and was mobilised in 2011. My usual week at the base depends very much on what’s happening and changes a lot so there’s always something different.

“I always wanted to join the Navy, but I didn’t have the right grades when I left school. I was in the Sea Cadets so the Reserves was the next best thing for me. That meant I could get the best of both worlds.”

Being a Reserve is both physically and mentally challenging with an element of danger involved. You do training in sea survival, fire fighting, damage control, weapons skills, leadership courses and heading into some of the world’s hottest conflict zones.

Angus himself has been involved in sensitive operations in the Gulf of Aden where there is a high level of modern day pirates operating.

Here at home the married father-of-two has done more than a few royal visits and was part of the ceremony when the famous Stone of Destiny came home to Scotland in November 1996.

The stone now resides in Edinburgh Castle along with Scotland’s Crown Jewels.

In recent years Angus and his colleagues have been involved in force protection in the Arabian Gulf, led teams specialising in intelligence and information systems in Afghanistan, as medical officers in Kenya and security personnel at last year’s successful Olympic Games in London.

“I’ve done three guard of honour duties for Prince Michael of Kent in the space of seven years,” said Angus.

“I did the street lining duties for the Stone of Destiny at the gates of Holyrood Palace and was in the Guard of Honour for the Edinburgh Military Tattoo in 2005.

“There’s always other big events you get to take part in every year too. Things like the Stone of Destiny ceremony was a big thing for us. It was a once-in-a-lifetime event you don’t forget. I do get around in the Reserves and it’s a great buzz and feeling doing these types of events.”

Although there is certain amount of commitment needed to be a Reserve, it’s not too taxing. All you need to do is one night every week, one weekend a month and about a fortnight every year on training courses and activity camps.

You don’t even need any military experience, as long as you are aged between 16 and 40, have a basic standard of English and maths and are able to do a one-and-a-half-mile run. So, it’s not an exclusive club accessible to just a select few.

The Navy Reserves can give you a sense of pride at serving your country, especially in troubling times such as we live in today, but it also has many other benefits that can be personally advantageous.

There are financial rewards through a second income on top of your day job salary and it comes with an annual tax-free bonus ranging from £400-£1600 depending on your length of service.

A new campaign is being launched in Rosyth to encourage more people to use their spare time to become Reserves in the Royal Navy as the service needs to recruit 150 new members in the area over the next three years.

More than 2300 men and women currently serve as Reserves in the Royal Navy alongside their normal day job. Most have no previous military experience.

When needed, the Royal Naval Reserve supplements the full-time ranks with extra manpower, and in some cases provides additional specialist civilian skills.

Reserves need to be able to commit the equivalent of 24 days a year for training. The initial training to become a Reserve takes place one night a week or at weekends for the first 20 weeks, followed by a two-week residential course at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall which includes an overnight exercise on Dartmoor.

New recruits will then be given training for a specific role, which range from logistics to submarine operations.

A recruitment day is taking place at Rosyth in October.

Angus, who has earned three medals –one for long service – in his time as a Reserve, added: “I’ve really enjoyed my time doing all this. I like the challenges it gives you and they are quite varied and you get the satisfaction of doing the job you are asked to do. There’s a real sense of achievement and because of the jobs I do it keeps me quite fit as well.

“If you’re looking for a challenging life I would definitely say it’s worth it. If you do the training, it is equivalent to thousands of pounds of transferable skills to normal jobs. You can also bring your skills in, it works both ways.

“You also get paid for it too and as you work your way up the system it gets better like any other job. It’s well worth it for all sorts of reasons.”

For more details, or to register to attend the recruitment day, call 08456 00 32 22, or visit the website below’.