Top Reservists named in inaugural awards

Part-time sailor Ryan Scott has been named the Navy’s ‘reservist of the year’ for his dedication in Gibraltar and UK waters.

And acting Corporal Ed Norman from London is the No.1 Royal Marines Reservist of 2020 for his efforts to help comrades maintain fitness under lockdown.

They are just two members of the Maritime Reserves singled out by their commander Commodore Mel Robinson in first annual awards honouring the men and women Churchill once dubbed ‘twice a citizen’ for devoting their free time to serving their country – alongside demanding day jobs.

Leading Seaman Ryan, who volunteers with HMS Wildfire based in Northwood, Hertfordshire, has been instrumental in helping fellow members of the Royal Navy Reserve seamlessly slip into life with the Gibraltar Squadron and, most recently, with patrol ship HMS Tyne which has been keeping an eye on fishermen and Russian warships operating around the UK.

A former full-time member of the Royal Navy, he’s the first recipient of the Commodore Muriel Hocking Trophy, named in honour of the late commodore, who is remembered for her example of service, compassion, hard work and determination in the face of adversity.

Ryan has been mobilised twice in 2020, firstly to the Gibraltar Squadron, more recently to the Offshore Patrol Squadron and HMS Tyne, which has been heavily in demand in monitoring Russian activity in UK waters this autumn.

Quickly gaining the trust and respect of his regular counterparts, Ryan created a training package for reservists and established himself as a natural mentor and leader for new joiners, helping them to settle into life at sea and quickly familiarise themselves with their roles onboard.

“I’m delighted to be recognised for the contribution I’ve made to the Royal Naval Reserve and to the Offshore Patrol Squadron,” Ryan said.

“It’s true what they say, though. I’ve only been able to make the difference I have because the Commanding Officer and the whole ship’s company, both in Wildfire and here in HMS Tyne, have been onside and supported me. It’s a team effort.

“I accept my trophy on behalf of all those who have mobilised into the squadron to do what we joined the Royal Naval Reserve for – supporting the Royal Navy at sea.”

I accept my trophy on behalf of all those who have mobilised into the squadron to do what we joined the Royal Naval Reserve for – supporting the Royal Navy at sea

Leading Seaman Ryan Scott, HMS Wildfire

Ed Norman from RMR London received the Commando Dagger Award, which is given to the Reservist who epitomises the Corps’ ethos, values and spirit – and contributes most to operational output.

Ed, a former regular Royal Marine who now works in the fitness industry, is one of just two physical training instructors in the Wandsworth-based unit.

He quickly realised the impact lockdown would have on his fellow green berets – particularly new recruits – so he devised a virtual training regime which was adopted across the Royal Marines Reserve, providing advice on avoiding injuries, dealing with mental health issues, and generally maintaining a positive outlook while restrictions made it impossible to attend a gym. 

“I was really surprised to receive the Commando Dagger Award,” Ed said. “The medical and fitness standards for the Royal Marines are demanding and exactly the same in the Reserves as in the Regulars – you have to hit the same standards. All I did was make sure that we could get as many new Recruits through the challenging recruitment process as possible so we could continue to generate Reservists to support Commando units around the world.”

The Philip Dark Trophy was awarded to HMS Hibernia in Lisburn for achieving the highest recruiting numbers over the course of the year, while the Richards Trophy was awarded to the Maritime Reserves Media Communications and Engagement Team in recognition of the team’s exceptional contribution to the front line.

A series of commendations have also been presented to reservists who’ve stood out from their peers these past 12 months, such as Leading Seaman Kim MacDonald from HMS Scotia in Rosyth, recognised for delivering online fitness sessions during lockdown.

“It is great to have my hard work recognised, especially as it has been a challenging time, balancing developing my own business during lockdown with family commitments and, of course, my commitment to the Royal Naval Reserve,” Kim said. “I love what I do and it has been so satisfying to see shipmates from across the Royal Naval Reserve benefit from the online physically training sessions I run.”

Also commended were Sub Lieutenant Charlotte Kertrestel from HMS Forward (Birmingham) for commitment to building and maintaining positive relationships with employers in the West Midlands; Colour Sergeant James Lynskey from RMR Merseyside, unit media officer in addition to his full-time role as chief instructor, telling the Royal Marines Reserve story across Merseyside; Lieutenant Carlo Contaldi RMR London, who commissioned as a junior officer from the ranks this year and was immediately mobilised in support of Covid operations;  Chief Petty Officer Tim Nichols from HMS Vivid (Plymouth), who was recognised for his support to British Overseas Territories during the pandemic; and Able Seaman Steven Court, who is also mobilised along with Ryan in HMS Tyne.

Commodore Robinson said, “I promised when I assumed command of the Maritime Reserves that I would instil a culture which recognises exceptional performance and publicly thanks those who go above and beyond their duties. 

“I am so proud of this first batch of winners and I offer them my wholehearted congratulations.”