As part of the Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme I’ve spent time over the last year working alongside the Army, seeing first-hand how they operate.
So at the start of Parliament’s summer recess I took the opportunity to head out to the British Forces’ Cyprus base to work with the personnel there for a few days.
I undertook training exercises with a range of military equipment and exercises, and met with both British armed forces and UN personnel to gain an insight into how our army operates abroad as part of international security efforts.
I was also put through my paces in the army’s new physical fitness tests, which set the current physical requirements for those serving in the army.
These tests are now gender-free, and set a uniform standard for anybody hoping to serve.
Alongside the usual tests of covering various distances weighed down with heavy equipment, the new drills seek to mirror real-world requirements like casualty extraction.
I think it’s safe to say that – even despite my recent training to complete the London marathon – I was some way off!
Whilst I was out there it was great to meet Corporal Robert Lee, who serves as an engineer with No 1 Air Control Centre, RAF.
Robert actually grew up on the same street in Darfield that I live on, and I think our whole community can be proud of the work he and others like him from across Barnsley and throughout our armed forces are doing to keep us safe.
The Armed Forces Parliamentary Scheme has given me the chance to work closely with our army this year and has provided an invaluable insight into the work they do.
I look forward to continuing my support for our incredible armed forces in the future.