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Halfords sail ahead for supporting Reserve Forces

Charlotte Kertrestel in her Royal Naval Reserve duties

A Birmingham-based Royal Naval Reservist will be one of many to celebrate Reserves Day with her employers this week.  

Charlotte Kertrestel, 28, works full-time as a Digital Product Owner for the cycling and motoring retailer Halfords.  In her spare time she is a Sub-Lieutenant with HMS Forward which is the only Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) unit in the land-locked West Midlands region.

At HMS Forward Charlotte attends weekly drill nights as well as a number of training weekends throughout the year.  She also signed up to complete the Accelerated Officer Programme, an 8-week training course which fast-tracked the first phase of her training.

Speaking about her role as a Reservist, Charlotte said: ‘I joined in January 2016 because I wanted a new challenge.  I was content in my work life and wanted something out of the ordinary to do in my spare time.”

As well as gaining military training, Charlotte attributes the leadership and management skills developed from her Officer training to having a positive impact on her civilian role at Halfords.

“There are so many reasons why the Reserve Forces are beneficial; for me, it’s been the confidence that I’ve developed by being thrown into new situations and unusual environments.  I feel like that has developed me as a person, and has definitely helped me in my day job.  Aside from that, you will meet lifelong friends from all ages and all walks of life.”

Being a Reservist has also opened up unique and exciting opportunities.  Last year Charlotte was selected to represent the Royal Naval Reserve at the Royal British Legion’s televised Festival of Remembrance, and she also learnt to ski through the Royal Navy Ski Championships.

This year’s Reserves Day will be a special occasion for Halfords as they recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant, pledging to support members of the Armed Forces community within their organisation.

Andy McBride, Halfords Group Head of Resourcing and People Shared Services, commented: “Halfords Group is proud to support our brave servicemen and women in both the regular or reserve services, who put their lives on the line to protect this country.

“We have found that those with a forces background have some great attributes such as discipline, teamwork, problem solving and dedication.  We are very pleased to have added a further 13 Reservists to our ranks, who have been recruited through our Guaranteed Interview Scheme.”

Reserves Day has been an encouraging experience for Charlotte when she has worn her military uniform to work in her previous roles.  She added: “A lot of civilians rarely see servicemen or women in uniform (especially not Naval uniform in the Midlands!) so I get asked a lot of questions, which is great.”

To find out more about the joining the Royal Naval Reserve or how your business or organisation can work to support members of the Armed Forces in your workplace or local community, please visit the West Midland Reserve Forces & Cadets Association website at: www.wmrfca.org or call 0121 427 5221.