Members of different military units are up in Stornoway right now – both Regular and Reserve, male and female – and they will soon be joined by a Shetland pony with the rank of Lance-Corporal and a key role as their regimental mascot.
This display is to try to show the wide variety of skills, jobs and trades available to those interested – both as a Regular soldier or as a paid part-time volunteer Reservist.
The teams are up until Saturday, mainly in and around Stornoway with the main effort being in Perceval Square although they will also be appearing in Tesco, the Co-op, Lews Castle College UHI and the sports centre.
They say: “The average person spends 15 days a year surfing the web in their spare time. You can join the Army Reserve and get to do something different with your time - most roles ask for just 27 days a year. You'll get to learn new skills, make friends and get paid too.”
The Royal Regiment of Scotland is the country’s Infantry Regiment forming a core part of the British Army's combat capability. The Regiment is comprised of Regular infantry soldiers ¬ organised in four battalions and an independent rifle company – and Reservists in two Army Reserve battalions.
In Perceval Square there is also an indoor air-soft gun range and a Foxhound reconnaissance vehicle.
Coming up later on this week (Thursday May 23) is the Regimental mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland – Lance Corporal Cruachan IV a Shetland pony. His handler, Pony Major Mark Wilkinson has been with the pony since it came to the Regiment four years ago. The small pony has its home in Redford Barracks, where he has stabling and a large field to run about in, which he shares with his friend and (retired) predecessor, Cruachan III.
As the Mascot of the Royal Regiment of Scotland, Cruachan is allowed to wear any medal that the Regiment has earned, so this little fellow wears The Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan, The Common Security and Defence Policy Service Medal (EUFOR Althea), The UN UNFICYP (Cyprus) medal, The Ebola Medal for service in West Africa and the Queens Diamond Jubilee Medal!
Cruachan is normally based in Edinburgh so it's a rare treat for him to visit up here. Plans are for him to visit Stornoway Primary on Thursday Morning, and Sgoil an Rubha in the afternoon.
Friday will see the whole display moving to Lionel for the day working out the School/Sports centre car park. On Saturday Cruachan IV will be down at the Harris Distillery but only for an hour 10:30-11:30am. In the afternoon – but not confirmed yet – you may see him at the official unveiling of the new War Memorial at Barvas. If not, he will be back down in Perceval Square.
For those interested in the Army Reserve, one of the main pledges been given right now is anyone who enlists as a volunteer Reservist will get paid to sit their Category B driving licence.
The organisers point out that – except in a national emergency - no Reservist will be forced to serve overseas - they must volunteer to do an overseas operation.
In recent years 7 Scots (the local Reserve for the Highlands and Islands) have done overseas exercises in Spain, Cyprus and Croatia. Right now members of the battalion are in Sweden with the pipes and drums. Later on this year members will go to Hong Kong and Italy. Sailing and skiing activities are taken very seriously within the Battalion and in the next few weeks members will be sailing in and around the Western Isles – at the same time getting paid as part of their duties and the same for skiing later on this year.