Equestrian joins the Royal Naval Reserve to become a stay-at-home dad

Topic: PeopleReserves Storyline: Air Branch

After 16 years’ full-time service, Chief Petty Officer Keith Reynolds joined the Royal Naval Reserve to become a stay-at-home dad… and pursue his horse-riding passion.

Keith left the Royal Navy in 2017 so that he could spend more time with his family and pursue the family’s interest in horse riding.

He did not want to lose touch with the Royal Navy and so joined the Royal Naval Reserve (RNR) Air Branch based at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton in Somerset.

Keith said, “When I left the military to become a stay-at-home dad it was really important to me that I did not let go of my military identity as it had been such an important thing in my life for so long.”

Keith spent time on busy Merlin helicopter squadrons (814 and 824 at Culdrose) and also worked extensively on Non-Destructive Testing and Crash Investigation at Culdrose and Yeovilton.

When Keith was in 1710 NAS in HM Naval Base Portsmouth, he worked in NDT development and was also in charge of the Steam Waggon Club – and was in his element, as steam engines are one of his hobbies.

Before he left the regular Royal Navy, Keith and his partner discussed what they would do if he joined the RNR and was activated back into full time service and both agreed that they would be able to make it work.

Initially spending five weeks a year with the RNR Air Branch, this enabled him to plan his free time.

Keith said, “Should I ever wish to join back up this should be a relatively simple move as I will still be current and ready to go.”

Keith took the post of the RNR Air Branch Unit Chief in July 2022 and helped to organise the commissioning of the RNR Air Branch as HMS Pegasus in October 2022. HMS Pegasus was the first Ship, albeit shore based, to be commissioned under a King since 1948.

As Unit Chief for HMS Pegasus, Keith works one day a week which allows him to be the ‘household parent’. The working day can be spread across the week and even mixed with working from home if necessary, allowing him to work flexibly, providing childcare and serving the needs of HMS Pegasus, whilst enabling his partner to work full time.

Keith’s family have a passion for horse riding and being in the Reserves gives him time to look after his children’s ponies as well as his own horses.

It has been a great year for ‘Team Reynolds’ with his children competing at the National Schools Jumping Championship finals at Hickstead.

“The particular highlight was my six-year-old putting in a top performance and beating me!”

Keith hopes to continue in HMS Pegasus, providing support to the fleet. Excited for what the reserves hold for him in the future, perhaps a deployment on board ship, a job in the Maritime Reserves or returning as a regular.

At present Keith is happy to be at home to look after his children, act as chair of governors for their school, carry out Health and Safety for their Pony Club, ride his horses and spend time in the shed to restore his steam engine.

Keith said, “Name me another job with this flexibility.”