RAF Reservist on juggling work, family and Armed Forces role in Norfolk

Martin Rooney on base at RAF Marham. Picture: RAF Reserves

Martin Rooney on base at RAF Marham. Picture: RAF Reserves - Credit: RAF Reserves

To mark Reserves Day on Wednesday, June 24, Daniel Moxon speaks to Norfolk-based RAF Reservist Martin Rooney about balancing work and family life with his role serving Queen and country in the Armed Forces.

Martin Rooney on base at RAF Marham. Picture: RAF Reserves

Martin Rooney on base at RAF Marham. Picture: RAF Reserves - Credit: RAF Reserves

It can be difficult enough for many people to juggle work and family life when they have one job, but Martin Rooney somehow manages it with two.

By day he works as head of internal operations at construction equipment hire firm RECO Hoist in St Ives, Cambridgeshire, but one night per week and on one weekend per month the 36-year-old serves his country as an RAF Reserve.

Originally from Liverpool, he initially moved to Norfolk around 14 years ago and, after a stint working in Scotland, returned to the east of England in early 2017.

Based at RAF Marham, near King’s Lynn, Mr Rooney holds a Force Protection role as part of the 2620 Squadron Regiment, specialising in ground combat protecting people and equipment on base.

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He leapt at the chance to take on a role in the Armed Forces once again in April last year after an 18-month stint in the Army between 1999 and 2001.

“I was looking for a bit more of a challenge really. I enjoy the outdoors and I just wanted something a bit different. I’ve been in the military before – I left the army when I was young – and I’ve always had a burning desire to get back in, but life took me on a different path. I think the reserves just fits my lifestyle at the moment.

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“It’s never been quite the right time to do it. Now we’ve got the house and the kids, everything is a bit more settled and it felt like the right time to do it.”

RAF Reservists take on a military career in their spare time, alongside their day job and family life, and currently make up around one sixth of all Armed Forces personnel. Their roles can be in areas including media, engineering, administration, medical, combat or trade.

While the role usually fits alongside normal employment, there are times when Reserves can be relocated to other bases across the UK and beyond for up to one year away from their job, working alongside other Reserves and full-time regulars, sometimes overseas.

Their roles are vital to the British military’s work, and Mr Rooney proved himself a valuable asset from the off by winning two of three awards available for new recruits during his Phase One training.

His proficiency on the shooting range saw him named ‘Top Shot’ among his class, while he was also voted as the best in the group overall by his fellow recruits for helping them on the course.

“That was the biggest one for me. With me being in the military before I guess I had a slight advantage over other people who had never done that kind of thing before so I was able to help them, give them a bit more advice, coach them where I could and work as a team with everyone on the course.

“I was chuffed with those – it was really nice to win something like that.”

Mr Rooney agrees that teamwork is a vital part of not only his military role but also in civilian life.

“Teamwork plays a part in every aspect of life. Certainly at work – my civilian job – I’m really trying to emphasise teamwork at the moment as we’re so busy.

“Different groups have to pull together and, if one part of the team is letting the others down, then we can all fail collectively.”

Mr Rooney works hard in his day job and dedicates a good amount of his spare time to the RAF, but still manages to make time for what is most important to him – spending quality time with his wife and children.

Often, this involves outdoor excursions and trips as he looks to make the most of the beautiful scenery that Norfolk and the UK as a whole has to offer.

“On the weekends where I’m not with the RAF we try to get out of the house and walk. We’ve got a dog that we walk, we’ve got a canoe and stuff like that, so we try to switch off from the phone and get away from technology and just get out and about. Any down time I do have that’s what we try to do.

“There are lots of nice rivers you can walk along and stuff like that. We do tend to head for the hills sometimes too – Norfolk can be a bit flat so sometimes we head up to the Peak District or somewhere like that, but we love to get out and about in Norfolk too. It’s good for the kids as well to get away from technology and out into the fresh air.”

For more information about life as an RAF Reserve visit the Royal Air Force website.

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