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Peterborough soldiers deliver coronavirus testing to support NHS

Peterborough soldiers are amongst around 2,700 Armed Forces personnel who have been helping with the government's national testing programme, delivering Covid-19 testing.
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2,700 Armed Forces personnel have been helping with the governments national Covid-19 testing programme (Photo: Supplied)

Soldiers from 158 Regiment RLC completed their training package at Prince William of Gloucester Barracks in Grantham just days after being mobilised in May, and were ready to deploy with Rutland based 7 Regiment RLC to man the mobile coronavirus testing sites.

Some soldiers delivered Covid-19 testing across the East Midlands and East Anglia, while fellow reservists were also mobilised to work as military liaison officers to Local Resilience Forums and the Department of Health and Social Housing. 

From across the Regiment, 50 soldiers were mobilised, including soldiers from their Peterborough HQ and its Squadrons in Lincoln, Ipswich and Bedford. 

Throughout June, Captain Ben Parker, who is a solicitor at Metcalfe Copeman and Pettefar Solicitors, has been leading a 12-man team at Covid-19 testing sites in Essex, Nottingham and Leicester. 

He said: "It feels good to be a part of something that is assisting the wider community. Like many people I have family members who are shielding so I’m pleased and proud to play my part. 

"I feel that the more we do to support the efforts of the NHS to test and trace, the better the chance we have to eradicate the virus and the sooner family and friends can feel safe again." 
He continued: "I was in the regular Army so working with 7 Regt RLC brought back memories and confirmed to me that the regular and reserves connection does work. We all happily stepped out the door to serve and I think that sums up the commitment of the Army Reserve."

Lance Corporal Kevin Smith, who has been a reservist for over 15 years, was also deployed to work at the mobile testing sites. When he’s not in uniform he runs his own business; Focus Rides, a mountain biking school based in Louth, Lincolnshire. 

Both Captain Parker and LCpl Smith left their families at home and moved into accommodation at Chetwynd Barracks, Chilwell, Nottingham, whilst deployed. 

Lance Corporal Smith, who also deployed to Afghanistan said: "I’m married with three children: Harry (7), Arthur (3) and eight week-old George. Two days after George was born, I deployed.  It’s been hard obviously. Speaking on Face Time is not the same so I’m looking forward to getting home and spending time with them. Arthur, I know, is really missing me at the minute." 

The Commanding Officer of 158 Regiment RLC, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Futter, said: "The response from both the regular and reserve soldiers of 158 Regt has been fantastic. 50 of our soldiers mobilized at short notice and leaned into the national effort to halt the spread of this grim disease.  I sincerely hope that they are as proud of themselves and their families as I am."