This week marked the 75th anniversary of the formal end of World War Two.
To coincide with the landmark anniversary Britain’s largest gas distribution network, Cadent, has officially launched the Cadent Military Community with members attending a special launch ceremony at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire.
Aimed at employees who are either Armed Forces Veterans, serving Reservists or both, its hoped the new group will help bridge the gap between the military and civilian life.
The launch coincided with the 75th anniversary of the end of the Second World War, when the Japanese signed formal surrender documents aboard the USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay on September 2 1945.
Among the members of the new group is Leigh Corke, whose day job is working as a a compliance officer for Britain’s largest gas distribution network Cadent.
Leigh is based at Cadent’s Rayleigh depot but as its his job to audit the activities of colleagues who operate and maintain the gas network across the region, his job takes him around East Anglia.
Leigh, who lives in Essex, also makes time in his busy schedule for a part-time role as an RAF Policeman serving with 3 Tactical Police Squadron at RAF Honington in Suffolk.
His role involves carrying out the same duties as civilian police, though his beat is restricted to policing military bases and service personnel.
Ordinarily Leigh’s Reservist commitments consist of a minimum of 27 days a year of duty. These are ordinarily fulfilled by attending monthly weekend exercises and a two-week annual training camp, with scope to do more if desired with training opportunities, literally around the world.
However, when the 2020 coronavirus emergency erupted earlier this year Leigh was called up for full-time service with the RAF to assist with Operation Rescript, the UK military operation to support the civil authorities in the national coronavirus effort.
Leigh explained: “We were on standby for Covid-19 related operations and in the interim I carried out all the duties of a regular RAF Policeman at RAF Honington’s Police Station.”
Initially mobilised for six months Leigh served a three month tour, after manning requirements for Operation Rescript were curtailed and employers given the option of requesting their employees return to work early.
Cadent requested Leigh back from mid-July 2020 and he subsequently returned to his regular job.
Leigh’s 2020 tour of duty is the latest episode in a career with the RAF which first began when he signed up as a regular in the 1980s. He served six years as a firefighter and after completing his service he joined Essex County Fire and Rescue Service.
He has worked for Cadent since the company was formed in 2017, having previously worked for predecessor company National Grid, which he joined in 2015 after retiring as firefighter.
He decided to sign up for the RAF Reserve five years ago to support his son who at that time was considering a career with the RAF.
Leigh explained: “I wanted to show him that ‘if your dad can do it you can!’ but if I’m totally honest I didn’t anticipate getting through the selection and training at the then age of 50!
“However, I did and five years later I am still in and my son went onto join the RAF and he is now a qualified aircraft technician working on Chinooks and Puma helicopters with a tour of Iraq under his belt.”
Leigh, who’d recommend service in the Reserves to colleagues considering it, reflected: “My experience as a Reservist and a Veteran within Cadent is only positive and when being mobilised after the initial ‘What does that mean?’ question from Cadent I found it was quite a smooth transition.
“My line manager was also very supportive keeping regular contact.”
He added: “I think the Cadent Military Group is a great network where likeminded people can keep in touch.”
“At times you realise that being military or ex-military not everybody may think quite the same as you.”
Lee’s 2020 tour of duty is just one example of the operations which today’s reservists may be called upon to support. Members of his squadron also having served alongside their fulltime colleagues in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Falkland Islands, in recent years.