Craig is an Army Reservist and was mobilised earlier this year to help with the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic. Craig tells us what his role involves and some of the experiences he has gained
As well as being part of Brodies’ litigation team, you are also an Army Reservist. What does your Army Reserve job involve?
I am the Commanding Officer of 71 Engineer Regiment, part of the Corps of Royal Engineers. My headquarters is in Leuchars, near St Andrews, although the Regiment is spread across Scotland, the north east of England and Northern Ireland. We have two main roles: theatre enabling and air support. Theatre enabling might involve developing sea, air and rail ports to enable the arrival of troops, equipment and material or it could require us to build accommodation and provide water and electrical power for a camp. Camp Bastion in Afghanistan is a good example of theatre enabling in action. In our air support role, we provide engineering and technical support to both the British Army and Royal Air Force, providing military engineering for the air components of the Armed Forces.
One of the attractions of the Armed Forces is the opportunities for travel. Where have you served during your career?
I’ve been very lucky to visit Germany, Poland, Florida and South Dakota to take part in exercises with Canadian, Danish and US engineers. I was also mobilised in 2012 and spent six months in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, building a camp which is now being used by British mentors supporting the Afghan National Army Officer Academy. It’s not all been hard work and, as well as rock climbing, kayaking and canoeing in the UK, I have also been skiing in Norway, rock-climbing in the French Alps and on a battlefield study trip to Italy.
What have you been doing since the outbreak of coronavirus and the start of lockdown?
As part of my Army Reserve job, I am the military liaison officer to the Fife Local Resilience Partnership. In April I was mobilised so that I could focus on that role full time. I acted as a conduit for information and requests for support. I also led a small team that worked closely with NHS Fife and the other partnership agencies as they faced the unique challenges posed by COVID-19. The support we provided changed over time. Initially it was focussed on developing supply routes for personal protective equipment (PPE) to get it into the hands of all healthcare staff that needed it most, reducing the spread of the virus amongst staff and patients. We then moved on to supporting the planning to remobilise health and social care, identifying where to locate the mobile testing unit allocated to Fife, and increasing NHS Fife’s storage capacity for PPE.
How did you find the experience?
It was a great privilege to support the NHS and people of Fife in the fight against coronavirus. I found it very satisfying to be able to use the skills and experience which I have developed during my Army Reserve service as part of the national response to an unprecedented situation. Like many people, I also spent a large proportion of my time working from home. Although I am now an expert in Zoom and Skype calls, with three children under 5, I also found it a real challenge separating “office” and home life and preventing small heads bobbing into view on video calls!
How have you found the return to Brodies?
I have been immensely grateful to my colleagues who took over my files, allowing me to focus on my Army job whilst I was mobilised. Since my return, I have been adjusting to the new ways of working which the courts have developed over the last 10 months. The amount of change that has taken place has been phenomenal. It is good to see that many of the practices court users have wanted, such as greater use of conference calls and electronic submission of documents, have been implemented. I am missing the catch ups and chats with people over a cup of coffee!