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Armed Forces

Swansea military teenager stars on national charity podcast about Armed Forces life 

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A teenager from Swansea has been picked by a national military children’s charity to star on a new podcast about Armed Forces life. 

Megan Pope (18), whose Dad serves in the Royal Air Force, is one of 15 teenagers who will appear on SQUAD, a podcast by Little Troopers – the UK’s only charity to supports all children who have parents serving in the British Armed Forces.  

Presented by TV & radio broadcast and mental health ambassador, Katie Thistleton, and Leicester Tigers rugby player, Thom Smith – who also grew up in a military family, the eight-episode podcast sees Megan and the other guests share their personal experiences of being a service child and their views on some of the unique challenges that service children face including deployment and separation, schooling, moving home and forming new friendships.  

Megan comments: “I’ve been a military child my whole life. We’ve lived in six different houses and my Dad has been deployed numerous times overseas, so it’s been brilliant to be involved in the Little Troopers podcast, sharing my experiences and the lessons I’ve learned with other military teens.

“It was so much fun chatting to the other guests and hearing their stories. Some of our stories were really similar and some really different but we all have that shared connected of having a parent serving in the Armed Forces. I hope other military teens really enjoy listening in – I would’ve certainly loved to listen to something like this when I was younger.” 

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Funded by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust as part of the ‘Little Troopers at School’ project, the aim of SQUAD is to help military teenagers across the British Armed Forces community feel recognised and understood by hearing from other children who live in similar circumstances and share similar life experiences. 

Louise Fetigan, Founder of Little Troopers, explains: “It’s so important to our charity that people don’t forget about military teenagers and that they are given the chance to have a voice and hear from each other about their experiences of military life. We hope that lots of military teens will listen to SQUAD at home and that secondary schools will also find value in bringing their military children together to listen in class and use it to spark further conversation about military life in school.” 

Presenter, Katie Thistleton, whose credits include BBC Radio 1 and CBBC amongst others, added: “I’ve loved hosting the SQUAD podcast. It’s been fantastic to meet so many inspiring young people who have grown-up in an Armed Forces family and to give them a platform where they can share their stories and chat about what life is like from their point of view. Thom and I have been the presenters, but SQUAD is all about military teens; it’s their podcast and they have led the conversation in a really fun, honest and relatable way that will resonate with the thousands of other teenagers across the British Armed Forces community who share similar experiences. I hope everyone enjoys listening to it as much as we have enjoyed recording it and that it helps other military teens realise they are part of an amazing community of young people just like them.”  

The first episode of SQUAD is now available to follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. For more information visit www.littletroopers.net  

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Armed Forces

Military to support Welsh Ambulance Service from today

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The Armed Forces will begin to support the Welsh Ambulance Service from today.

Fifty troops from 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corp will drive ambulances across Wales from Tuesday having undergone training at Newport’s Raglan Barracks on the weekend.

They will be joined in the next week by a further 50 personnel from the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force.

A 29-strong team of supporting personnel will make a total of 129 soldiers, sailors and airmen supporting the Trust until the end of November.

Lee Brooks, the Trust’s Director of Operations, said: “We’re proud and grateful to have the military working alongside us once again, who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously last year.

“Having our Armed Forces colleagues back on board will help us put more ambulances on duty so we can get to more patients, more quickly, while the extreme pressure continues.

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“Essentially, they’ll work with one of our clinicians on an emergency ambulance responding to the full range of emergency calls.

“The winter period is our busiest time, and having military support will bolster our capacity and put us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.”

Major Alex Wilson, Officer Commanding 60 Close Support Squadron, Queen’s Own Gurkha Logistic Regiment, 4 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, said: “Over the weekend we spent time training with the paramedics and emergency medical technicians to familiarise ourselves with the ambulances, equipment and processes to make sure we can assist in the best way we can.

“The soldiers are ready to begin the task we have been deployed to do in Wales.

“It’s a privilege to be working with our Welsh Ambulance Service colleagues in supporting the NHS in Wales to ease the pressures that currently exist.”

It is the third time that the military have supported the service through the pandemic as part of the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) arrangement.

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More than 200 British Army soldiers have already assisted the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.

Among them were 90 soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who were enlisted on Christmas Eve at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

More broadly, more than 20,000 military personnel have been supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of a ‘COVID Support Force.’

(All images: Welsh Ambulance Service Trust)

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Armed Forces to work as ambulance drivers to support Welsh Ambulance Service

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110 Defence personnel will deploy to support the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust (WAST) from 14th October, working as non-emergency drivers. The task is expected to last until the end of November.

he support from the UK Government is being provided through a Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) request. The task will help to ease pressures resulting from the pandemic and ensure the ambulance trust can continue to provide their essential service, including attending life-threatening calls quickly.

Defence personnel will augment the ambulance service with non-emergency drivers who will not operate under blue light conditions. They will attend lower priority calls to help to free up WAST resources for emergency calls where there is an immediate risk to life, such as cardiac arrests.

Personnel are deploying to regions across Wales and are from across the three services.

UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said: “I am proud of the tireless work of all our service personnel during this pandemic. They continue to provide important support, working alongside our dedicated emergency services across the UK.

“The deployment of 110 personnel to support the ambulance service will ensure WAST can continue to deliver their life-saving services.”

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Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said: “Once again the UK’s armed forces are playing a key role in the fight against Covid-19 by supporting the critical work of the Welsh Ambulance Service. I am hugely grateful for their commitment and expertise.

“I would like to extend my gratitude to all those who have worked incredibly hard to ensure our public services deliver for the people of Wales throughout the pandemic.”

Chief Executive of the Welsh Ambulance Service Jason Killens said: “We’re proud and grateful to be working alongside the military once again, who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously last year.

“The pandemic has presented a challenge like no other, but the last couple of months in particular have meant significant and sustained pressures on our ambulance service, including high levels of demand and an increase in Covid-19 related activity.

“Winter is our busiest time, and having military colleagues on board once more will bolster our capacity and put us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.”

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In addition to drivers, Defence will provide 3 personnel to support planning at NHS Wales. This is the third deployment of the Armed Forces to support WAST since the pandemic began in March 2020. 68 personnel deployed in April 2020 and 120 personnel augmented dedicated Welsh Ambulance Service staff in December 2020, including Defence medics.

Defence also supported the vaccine rollout in Wales earlier this year and previously deployed during the pandemic to provide specialist planning advice, deliver PPE and support the community testing programme in Merthyr Tydfil.

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Welsh Ambulance Service seeks to re-enlist military support

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THE Welsh Ambulance Service is seeking to re-enlist military support to assist with its Covid-19 effort.

The Trust has submitted a request for additional support to Welsh Government under the Military Aid to the Civil Authorities (MACA) arrangement.

If approved, it will be the third time that soldiers have supported the service through the pandemic.

Chief Executive Jason Killens said: “Covid-19 has presented a challenge like no other, but the last couple of months in particular have meant significant and sustained pressures on our ambulance service.

“The Trust is starting to return to some of the arrangements we had in place at the height of the pandemic to better manage the increase in Covid-19 related activity that we’re feeling the impact of once again.

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“As part of this, we’re seeking to re-enlist the military, who did a superb job of assisting us on two occasions previously last year.

“Winter is our busiest time, and this will enable us to get a head start on what we foresee will be a tough period, especially when you couple Covid-19 demand with seasonal flu and our usual winter pressures.

“This is about bolstering our capacity as far we can and putting us in the best possible position to provide a safe service to the people of Wales.”

More than 200 British Army soldiers have already assisted the Trust’s Covid-19 effort by driving and decontaminating ambulance vehicles as part of Operation Rescript.

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Among them were 90 soldiers from 9 Regiment Royal Logistic Corps, who were enlisted on Christmas Eve at the height of the second wave of the pandemic.

More broadly, more than 20,000 military personnel have been supporting public services across the UK during the pandemic as part of a ‘COVID Support Force’.

A spokesperson for Joint Military Command Wales said: “Defence remains ready to offer support to civil authorities in the UK and we will work with the Welsh Government and the Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust to understand their requirements and offer assistance where appropriate.

“Since March 2020, Defence has supported more than 450 Military Aid to Civilian Authority (MACA) requests as part of the Covid Response Force.”

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